If you weren’t aware, every April 22nd, Earth Day is celebrated, and serves as a vital reminder for everyone to be more climate conscious. This year’s theme is ‘Invest In Our Planet’, with a goal to act boldly, innovate broadly, and implement equitably. Earth Day’s mission is to “diversify, educate, and activate the environmental movement worldwide.”
We use the term ‘celebrate’ loosely when it comes to Earth Day because there’s not much to be thrilled about when our planet is being put through the absolute most, at the hands of those who are meant to protect and preserve it. As much as we could go on and on about how bad our situation is or how much big organizations are largely at fault, now is definitely not the time to abandon ship. While we can acknowledge that the Earth is not in a favorable state, we also understand that we can all do our bit to ensure it doesn’t stay that way.
Considering that there have been many studies claiming that the climate crisis disproportionately affects women, more particularly women of color, it is a matter that’s even closer to home. We know that women are not a homogenous group because intersectionality with class, race, religion, age, etc. affect access to resources, rights and responsibilities that any woman has. As such, women’s experience of the climate crisis is not homogenous and their experience of this is fundamentally affected by class and racial inequalities.
Environmental racism is one of these examples where people of colour (specifically women) are disproportionately victimised by environmental hazards and are far more likely to live in areas with heavy pollution. This often contributes to the cause of death and disease within these communities. The climate crisis also exacerbates other forms of existing social injustice, which exacerbates the negative experiences of discrimination and a lack of access to resources that already disproportionately affect women of colour.
That’s why, reflecting on Earth Day, we wish to inspire action amongst our Belles and encourage them to learn more about sustainability in all aspects of their lives.
Here are 10 simple tips for being more sustainable around campus and in everyday life:
- Host clothing swaps
Now more than ever, the repercussions of fast fashion, and the dire need for more sustainable options are being highlighted. Shopping slow and sustainable doesn’t always have to break the bank. In fact, let’s take cash out of the equation entirely — clothing swapping! The garments you’re so over might just be the next person’s favourite item, so look out for opportunities to swap with your friends or try hosting a clothing swapping event.
- Avoid using disposable items as far as you can
Yes, we know switching out a plastic straw for a paper one every now and then isn’t going to save the planet, but it’s not going to make it any worse, either. What we’re saying is, things add up. If every person has the mentality that their little actions won’t amount to anything, that amounts to a whole lot of waste. Do your bit where you can. It’s as simple as carrying reusable items with you whenever you leave your home.
- Become a digital queen
As charmingly old-school as putting pen to paper may be, taking digital notes is a great way to cut down on your paper usage. It therefore cuts down on waste, as many notes get dumped once they’re no longer of purpose. Digital note taking is also a great way to ensure your work is backed-up. A win-win, really! Beyond note-taking, there are also many great apps like Notion, Google Keep & To-doist that you can use to plan your life instead of using a hardcopy calendar or notebook.
On the note of taking notes, passing down written/ hardcopy notes is a great way to promote sustainability and help your fellow students by essentially recycling your notes.
Which brings us to our next point…
We’re certain recycling isn’t a new concept to anyone here. Recycling can look different to everyone, however, some things we can all do is recycle paper, plastic, and glass within our spaces accordingly. Establishing a system for recycling within our homes encourages family members and visitors to adopt the same practices.
If your local refuse collectors do not recycle then find a recycling plant near you, it’s probably just a Google search away!
- Carpooling is key
With gas prices on the rise, carpooling is both an environmentally and financially friendly alternative. If you’re driving to campus or campus-related activities alone, put out feelers around campus, there’s bound to be someone who wants to hitch a ride or who can give you a ride!
- Start composting
Another nifty technique for sustainably managing waste is composting. This is one of the simplest, yet overlooked recycling practices. You can do this by simply transferring food scraps into a bag or container and then transferring the decomposing remains into your garden to promote healthy fruits and vegetables.
- Public Transport
Aside from carpooling, making use of public transport is a good way to minimize our carbon footprint. Sometimes taking the bus instead of driving somewhere also frees up our time so that we get to do more like a read or catch up on coursework or with friends. One thing’s for sure, the commute definitely has its perks.
- Book swaps & eBook alternatives
There’s always that one book that we’re all dying to read. Creating a space where we can circulate books instead of each of us purchasing a copy is a great way to promote sustainability, especially when all it does is sit on a shelf after we’ve read it. eBooks are also a great way to go paperless and between reading on your Smartphone, iPad, or Kindle, the transition is more seamless than you think.
- Donating and thrifting
Donating clothing to thrift stores and buying clothing (in moderation) from thrift stores around campus is also a great way to practice sustainability. If you don’t know of people to do clothing swaps with, or if you have leftover clothing after a swap, this is a great alternative that doesn’t break the bank either.
- Meatless Mondays
If you’re on social media, you’ve probably heard all about veganism and going meat-free. What we’re proposing is not that drastic, but taking one day out of the week where you minimize your meat intake would contribute positively to the climate as meat production is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and pollution of landscapes and waterways. By consuming a little less meat, we can help reduce this impact.
What are some of the ways you practice sustainability? Are there any tips you think we missed? Drop a comment here.