Keeping the world a beautiful and enjoyable place is important to me. I have begun to change my lifestyle in small ways that will hopefully help all living beings have the same chance for positive life experiences. With that in mind, I offer some of the top five everyday choices you can make to help promote sustainability at a time when it is crucial.
1) Bring your own bottle/cup. We’ve all seen the floating sea of plastic water bottles and bags in the oceans around the world. Gross! And think how many ecosystems that really affects. A reusable cup or bottle is not that hard to keep up with and almost all restaurants and coffee shops will oblige you. You will likely even get a “thank you” now and again for being so eco-friendly.
2) Pick up trash and don’t litter. You’d think this would be pretty much eradicated by now but everywhere we go, there it is all along the roads, paths, rivers, etc. It’s not that hard to find a trash can, pack it out, etc.. If you see something on the sidewalk on your way to class, pick it up and throw it away (or recycle it!). Don’t be too scared of germs to make a difference -that’s what soap is for. Setting the example can really have an effect on others. I know I have started doing this more as a result of seeing it happen.
3) Kick it to the Curb – Recycle! Especially here in Athens, recycling has gotten so easy it’s practically no effort at all. ACC now utilizes single-stream recycling, which means that all acceptable recyclable materials (check website for complete list) can be put into the same containers and will be sorted out later by a fancy-schmancy machine. You (or your landlord) is paying for it as a part of trash collection anyways so just do it! Bonus: The new yellow and green roll carts are pretty cool looking and have nice handles/wheels for easy transport to the curb.
4) Veg Out. Eat a meatless meal once or twice a week. Meat production is one of the least sustainable systems in place on the planet today. Veggie eating is not as hard as you think and you may not even miss meat as much as you suspect. Imagine a giant, yummy salad with lots of toppings, veggie lasagna (DePalmas has an excellent one), or veggie fajitas sizzling right out of the kitchen. There are lots of choices in Athens for vegetarian eats and a good many for vegans as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for a meatless recommendation either – restaurant staffs have normally tried everything on the menu.
5) Think Compassionately. It probably seems like thinking isn’t a sustainable choice but it is. Think about the effect that your actions and choices have on other people, animals, ecosystems, habitats, environments, and everything around you. Taking the time to slow down and examine what actually happens when you eat this food, use that body product, or clean with those detergents, can help you think more big-picture about small decisions. Think globally, act compassionately. Everyone and everything deserves the chance to live a healthy and happy life on this planet.
-Rose Tahash is an Academic Advisor in the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Georgia