Easy switches to be more sustainable

These tips take minimal effort and can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s all about the little things.

Last month, as NYHS prepped for Reverse Tashlich, I noticed that many of my peers were expressing that they weren’t sure how to start being more environmentally friendly. Here is a list of tips for anyone wanting to start living a more sustainable life.


Metal Straws

(Amazon, $3.99)

Plastic straws are problematic because since they are plastic they stay in landfills for hundreds of years. In addition, their small size and bright colors make them look appealing to wildlife. Purchase a set of metal straws and keep, in your purse, backpack, or car. That way, when you’re out to purchase a drink, you can use your own instead of a plastic one. 



Containers and Compostable Snack Bags 

(Amazon, $6.85)

Switch packing lunch and snacks in wasteful single-use bags to reusable containers. If you don’t want to take the time to wash all the containers, use compostable sandwich bags. They are made out of biodegradable material and come in snack, sandwich, quart and gallon sizes. Throw them in your compost bin after each use. 



Reusable Cotton Rounds

(Amazon, $9.99)

If you use cotton rounds for toner, makeup, nail polish removal, or anything else, I recommend purchasing a set of reusable cotton rounds. These are soft cloth rounds that come with a bag to put them in when they get dirty. When the bag is full,throw it in the washing machine with your laundry and they’ll be good as new.



Bring Your Own Utensils

(Amazon, $8.49)

Whether it’s for school lunches or from takeout restaurants, plastic silverware is often used and then thrown out. However, if you bring your own set of silverware, take it home and wash it after each use instead. According to Forbes, 40 billion plastic utensils are wasted each year in the United states alone.



Amazon Day Delivery

If you frequently shop on Amazon, try to use the Amazon Day Delivery feature. When you check out, choose to schedule your delivery for the same day every week. This way, all your items come in one box, even if they are from separate orders, which saves packing materials. Sustainability doesn’t have to mean you abstain from things completely. It’s all about making small but impactful choices to help the planet. 



Eat Less Meat

According to the New York Times, cows produce vast quantities of methane. They’re responsible for almost 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This doesn’t mean that you need to never eat meat again, but cutting and saving meat only for special occasions can help immensely. 



Recycling Programs 

Check the recycling programs in your area, and find out whether  products you use have a recycling program as well like Ridwell. Ridwell is a great and very simple service. They give you bags for hard-to-recycle items like batteries. Then you fill the bags and leave them at your front door to be picked up every two weeks.



Thrift, or Purchase Second Hand Clothes 

According to Boren Magazine fast fashion makes up 10 percent of worldwide carbon emissions,  the second biggest contributor to pollution. Aside from the fact that it’s usually cheaper, buying second-hand is an amazing way to reduce clothing waste. 




When you and your friends are going to the same place, try to carpool to use less gas. You have the added benefit of being able to catch up with friends and peers (in person!).



Learn What Goes in Each Bin

Make sure you’re well educated on what goes where. For example, a plastic Starbucks cup can be washed and recycled instead of being thrown in trash. Seattle Public Utilities has helpful posters to hang above your trash can at home.



Repurpose Something Instead of Throwing it Out

Find uses for old things. If you don’t like the color of something, paint it instead of getting a new one. If you can find no use for it, always donate it or give it away. A great way to get rid of things is to sell/donate them on OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace.