Sustainability Saves: How to Make Your Life More Eco-Friendly


Photo by Sylvie Tittel on Unsplash

Ella Schuellerman, Arts and Life Editor

Over the past decade, there has been a swarm of brands and companies vetting themselves as natural, organic, eco-friendly and sustainable. Brands making sustainability initiatives and cities, counties and states are following. Still, it feels like it’s too little too late. Could we be doing better? For the sake of the space we occupy, should we be treating it differently? 

While it is unknown what eco-friendly laws will be put into place, we can start to make changes in our own lives to become more sustainable and kind to our planet. It takes just one little change to effectively begin making a difference. Here are some ways you can individually start your own sustainability initiative:

Reduce Your Food Waste

More often than not, we end up buying more produce or meat than we need and have to throw it away before it has been eaten. Start writing down what is in your fridge before you leave for the store so you do not over-buy. If you are nervous that your fruits and veggies are about to hit their “expiration date,” cut them up and freeze them until you are ready to eat them.

Avoid Single Use Plastic

While this may someday become an actual law like many European cities have implemented, invest in some reusable bags to keep in your car. That way, when you head off to the grocery store or to shop, you can use your bags. Grocers such as Trader Joe’s and Giant Eagle sell reusable bags for less than five dollars a pop. Invest in a reusable water bottle rather than buying an entire case of plastic water bottles weekly. Don’t use straws when at a restaurant. Use a reusable stainless steel straw instead; the Inn Between sells reusable straws for a mere three dollars.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Shop Local

Head to your local farmers markets to buy your produce and products. Even in the winter, there are markets around Cleveland you can attend, such as the Saturday morning indoor market at Van Aken District. Cleveland thrives on local businesses, many of which carry sustainably grown or produced food items. Local coffee chain Phoenix Coffee, for example, buys its milk from local dairy farmers.

Shop Second hand and Small 

Twenty years ago, moms would take their kids out to get two back-to-school outfits and that was it. Now, we are in an era where fast fashion is bigger than ever. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American throws out approximately 81 pounds of clothing per year. The many statistics on how harmful fashion is to our planet are astonishing, but one way individuals can start to help the environment is by shopping second hand. Local stores such as Avalon Exchange or Whiskey Grade pride themselves on shopping small and reinventing fashion trends. 

It is important to be sustainable because we owe it to our environment. We want communities to be healthier. We want our cities to be less polluted. College students can start this effort by changing little things. If we can do that for the Earth, we could spark a chain reaction.