Even in a pandemic, Gen Z is concerned about the environment. Even though some products that are sustainable are more expensive, there are many changes you can make in your day that will benefit the environment.
“The only way we can preserve the earth’s beauty and its beauty is to reduce our consumption, reuse the materialistic goods that we already have and recycle our unwanted goods,” stated Jeremy Lewan, a Rutgers University meteorology student.
Rutgers University student Jeremy Lewan created a 100% reusable, compostable straw from plants.
Source: Jeremy Lewan
We’ve all seen metal s straws become a popular trend on social media. Even influencers have taken to selling them as part their merchandise. Plastic straws play an important role in marine life’s pollution. It’s also the plastic bottles, single-use plastic bag and utensils that you get at restaurants.
According to Jenna Jambeck, a team of researchers at the University of Georgia, plastic waste is generated by single-use behaviors and amounts to approximately 275 million metric tonnes per year. Most of this ends up in a landfill. An estimated 8 million tons of this plastic waste end up in the oceanAccording to the research published in Science, every year.
Plastic ends up in giant floating garbage piles and in the stomachss of birds, fish, and other marine life. Plastic fragments break down into small pieces that our friends under the water make mistaken for food.
This rate will lead to a shortage of workers by 2050. There is more plastic in the sea than there are fishAccording to the World Economic Forum, it is a staggering 9%.
What can we do to reduce waste and save money?
1. Reduce single-use plastics.
First, you can choose not to use utensils at campus dining halls or when ordering takeout or takeout. You can bring your own silverware or buy reusable bamboo utensils that you can toss in your bag. Or, you can invest in a few metal straws for as low as 6$ (for a 4 pack on Amazon).
This won’t save you a lot of money, but it will save restaurants money. And they will pass those savings on to their customers. Restaurants in the U.S. spend approximately $2.5 trillion $19 billion per annum on take-out foodswareAccording to research by the Overbrook Foundation, these include utensils and cups as well as bowls and cups.
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Refilling your own water bottle at home and bringing your own grocery bag to the store will help you save money. You will save a few dollars per water bottle, as well as any surcharges the store may charge for plastic or paper bags.
Lewan stated, “I am a big proponent of reducing single use plastic waste.” “I don’t take plastic utensils nor plastic bags from campus cafes.”
Lewan was even the leader of a social innovation project at school that designed a 100% reusable and compostable straw from plants. (And came in second place in the competition!)
2. There are other ways you can get around.
You can also save money by getting rid of your car.
Even if you don’t have your bike, bike-sharing programs have become more popular on college campuses.
Even if you don’t have the option to completely abandon your car, it is worth reducing the amount you use. A bike can help reduce carbon emissions, and it keeps you in better shape. You can also save money on gas, parking passes as well as insurance and oil changes.
Erica Solis, a Stony Brook University linguistics student, said that she decided to commute and live car-free in order to save money. Solis believes that she is saving at most a few thousand dollars each month by not driving to her university.
Erica Solis is a student at Stonybrook University and walks around her university trying to reduce carbon emissions.
Source: Raymond Torres
Another option: Consider carpooling together.
Solis and other members on campus of the environmental club carpool to reduce carbon emissions.
Maria Rodriguez, outreach coordinator for Stony Brook’s environmental club, said, “Most of our transportation is provided to events out of campus by members of Eboard, who usually carpool 3-8 other members of club.”
Solis said, “This way of living is better for the planet”
3. Thrift stores are a great place to find clothing and other items.
Gen Z has made second-hand shopping one of the most important ways to help the environment and look cool. You can save money on back-to school shopping by purchasing items for your dorms like backpacks, storage units and lamps.
The cost of clothing purchased at thrift stores is usually around 50% to 80% less than buying it new in a store. This is good news for a student who is budget conscious. These clothes are also kept out of landfills.
Lewan stated, “Giving old clothes new life is a simple joy.”
Students are encouraged to participate in such activities by the environmental club at Stony Brook.
Rodriguez stated that Rodriguez recently organized a trip to a thrift shop near campus. This allowed us to offer affordable alternatives to fast fashion and encouraged members to take part in sustainable fashion beyond club activities.
Fast fashion was once a popular choice for college students and twenty-somethings because it was affordable and fashionable. You could still get the latest trends without spending a lot. The problem is that garments made cheaply and worn only a few times can create a lot of bulk in our landfills. Just to give you some context, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that 10% of global carbon emissions are caused by the fashion industry every year.
4. Change how you wash your clothes.
You can also save money and be environmentally conscious at school by changing your laundry routine. Reusable dryer sheets and cold water are good choices to save money and the environment.
Bailey Campbell, a biology student at Stony Brook University with a genetics focus, said that changing her clothing routine helped her get through college.
“I have purchased reusable dryer balls. They’ve been with me for two years and cost about $10 for six. It’s much cheaper than buying dryer sheets and re-buying dryer sheets every month. It’s much simpler to just throw the ball into the dryer.” she stated.
Bailey Campbell, a Stony Brook University student, uses reusable dryer sheet to help save the planet and her wallet.
Source: Christopher Palmeri
Campbell also noted that thick clothing, such as jeans, don’t have to be washed every time as the label suggests.
“I wash my clothes every two weeks, which saves a lot water, which obviously saves detergents and dryer balls usage,” she said.
You can also use zero-waste laundry detergent pods in recyclable packaging to replace liquid detergent in large plastic containers. These reduce plastic waste and the weight of heavy liquid containers, which means fewer carbon emissions.
5. Reduce your meat intake.
We are not requiring you to become vegan. It is possible to save money and reduce carbon emission by skipping meat even if it’s only once or twice per week.
Meat is often the most expensive portion of a meal when it comes down to budget. You can save as much as $300 per year by including a few vegetarian options in your weekly meals. Consider the average cost of a boneless chicken breast at about $38. $3.27Tofu costs about $2.50 to $2.50 a pound in the US, while dried beans cost $1.39 a pound. You can save $6 per week or more than $20 per month by substituting any of these items in your weekly meal plan.
The environmental impact of meat preparation is between Greenhouse gas emissions are 10-40 times higherAccording to the Environmental Working Group, it is not possible to grow and harvest vegetables and grains.
6. Join the sharing economy.
Do you want to move into a dorm or hostel? Or off-campus? Or what if your dream job is post-graduation?
Facebook Marketplace is a great resource for furnishing your living space. If you’re lucky enough, your local town might have a marketplace. Massapequa Marketplace, a Facebook group, is where I’m from. People sell or give away all sorts of household goods, including couches and paintings, chairs, coffee pots and tables, as well a variety of other items.
My mom sold my brother’s stuff last year from his old apartment. When she found a buyer for the mattress she accepted whatever they offered. You can save a lot of cash.
Campbell lives in Albany and has “Habitat for Humanity,” a huge warehouse that she uses to shop for furniture. She and her boyfriend bought all the thrifted furniture while they were moving into another apartment.
Many schools, such as Cornell University, have “Academic” programs.Dump and Run” sales. Students can “dumpstamp”, furniture, household items, and other stuff when moving out in May. It is then resold cheaply to students when they move back in August. We are talking about how cheap it is. Last sale Mini-fridges on sale at $40Microwaves cost $20, most clothing was $2, coats were $5, shoes were $4, and microwaves cost $20. Cornell’s prevents these items from ending up in landfills and raises money for charity. Win-win!
This can save you a lot of money, but it also reduces the environmental impact. You don’t have to buy a new item that was manufactured in a factory, then shipped to a warehouse and finally to your apartment or dorm. All these things would have created a lot more carbon emissions. You are giving someone’s old stuff new life and keeping them out of the landfill.
7. Turn off the lights
This may seem obvious, but it could be a great way to save money. Did you know that turning off lights can save you a few dollars per hour? Although it may not seem like much, it can add up over the course a year.
Automated light switches are now standard at most universities. However, it’s important that you remember to turn them off if you leave a space that doesn’t have automatic lights, such as an apartment off-campus. You will want to save as much money as possible when you buy your apartment after graduation.
Start these good habits today. The sooner you get started, you’ll save money. By doing so, you will leave the environment a little better for the next generation.
CNBC’s “College VoicesThis series is written by CNBC interns at universities across the country and covers how they got their college education, managed their money, and launched their careers in these extraordinary times.Jessica CoacciShe is a Stony Brook University student pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. She is a CNBC intern for the breaking news desk. The series is edited in part byCindy Perman.