What is sustainability? The definition of sustainability is “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” This means trying to not contribute to anything that harms the environment. In this series, we will talk about energy efficiency, zero waste and buying second hand.
This month is about setting yourself up to succeed in the challenge of becoming more environmentally friendly. Feel free to change around the weeks, and possibly even months you take each step, or just use this article as a guide.
Week 1: Ready…Set…Start!
To start off this challenge, get inspired. Watch a documentary about human impacts to the climate, listen to a podcast about plastic in oceans, take a walk outside, or find something else that inspires you to take action. After that, talk to your parents. This is the only step that is not optional. Talking to your family about being more sustainable will help everyone be on the same page and it will make them more able to help you. You never know, maybe they want to go green also!
Week 2: Bike and Water Bottle
Biking can help reduce your carbon footprint, so for this week, think about the places you usually go. School? Sports? A friend’s house? If you have a bike, roller blades, or skateboard, are any of those places close enough to get there without a car? Maybe you can walk or ride there. Write a plan of all the places you go, if you can bike or walk there great! Keep this list somewhere you will see before you leave, like by your backpack or shoes.
The next thing you can do is use a reusable water bottle if you don’t already. If you don’t have one, you can buy one from your local grocery store or online. Stainless steel and glass are the most environmentally friendly, but a plastic one works too. You could even hand wash and reuse a non-reusable bottle until it breaks.
Week 3: Buy Second Hand and Recycle
Make a trip to a local thrift store. Even if you don’t buy anything the first time, the second time around you might! Make note of what they have: clothes, furniture, books? If you can’t go to a store because of COVID-19, check out thredUP online. They have a large collection of used clothes that you can get delivered to your door.
Since that should only take one day out of your week, you can also learn to recycle this week. Even though creating less trash is much better than recycling, not everything that goes in the recycle bin actually gets recycled. Recycling correctly will help more of your waste actually get recycled. Ecoscraps.com is a good resource for recycling. Print out or copy down this list somewhere you can see it, like taped to the side of the recycling bin. Another tip to help you recycle more is to put a recycling can in your room, but not a trash can. I use an old tissue box as a bin, and it goes in one of the drawers in my desk.
Week 4: Make a Kit of Reusable Items
Making a small kit with reusable items will help you avoid waste when you are not home. Fill a tote bag with a small water bottle, a small food storage container and a fork, spoon and dinner knife. (Don’t bring a knife if you are at school.) The silverware can go in the food container to save space. Roll up the tote bag to be as small as possible and bring it with you wherever you go. You can put it in your backpack, sports bag, purse, or car.
The Next Step
After you’ve read all of these tips, you may be asking, now what? Save the poster below to your computer or phone using a snipping tool or a screenshot and then get started on week 1! February’s article will be about conserving water and zero waste in the bathroom.
Simple List of What Can and Cannot Be Recycled
I Want You to Stop Recycling (and start Reducing) – video
10 Questions with a Zero Waste Expert
Does Bike Commuting Affect Your Carbon Footprint and How Much?