Five sustainable switches to save the environment and money

Chloe Williams, Web and Social Editor

1. Reusable water bottle

A reusable water bottle and a water filter will save money and the environment. Making the switch from single-use plastic to reusable bottles will save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually. Generation Z saves over $800 a year on plastic water bottles; the average across generations is $684. A Brita or other water filter is a college staple. These filters are convenient and are 1/10 the cost of water bottles. 

2. Thrifting clothes

While thrifting can take a lot of patience, it pays off in the long run. The cost of a blouse at Goodwill comes in around $4.79, while the average retail price for a shirt in the United States ranges from $24.99 to $29.99. Thrift stores are great for clothing and any household items you might need. Pretty much all of my room decorations, cups and lamps are from thrift stores. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, after the oil industry. Thrifting apparel and items help to combat climate change and your fashion spending. 

3. Meatless days

Incorporating one meatless day into your weekly meals does more for the environment than you would think. Participating in meatless Monday each week for a year saves the equivalent emissions of driving 348 miles in a car. Eating meatless is not the hard or expensive task it is wrapped up to be. Taking on a fully vegan diet reduces food costs by up to one-third. While this is not possible for some, even just taking on a flexitarian diet can reduce food costs by 14%. My favorite meat-free takeout meals are Chipotle’s Sofritas bowl, Cava’s sweet potato and falafel bowl and, for a cheap option, Taco Bell’s spicy potato soft tacos from the dollar menu. 

4. Products with less plastic

My favorite plastic-free switch I have made has been with body wash. One container of body wash is around $10, whereas one box of barred soap is the same price but comes with eight bars, each lasting around 3-4 weeks. Another deserving investment is to switch to reusable bags for your vegetables, snacks and anything else you can think of. While the initial purchase of reusable Ziploc bags can be more expensive, they will certainly pay off when you no longer run out or have to purchase disposable ones continually. Walmart sells a pack of eight reusable sandwich bags for $7.44. Other options to reduce plastic consumption include swapping to bamboo toothbrushes, minimizing straw usage or buying reusable straws and shopping at local farmer’s markets when possible. 

5. Bring your own bag

Some of my favorite purchases ever have been my tote and grocery bags. My favorites are from Ikea, but there are plenty of other options out there. Eliminating plastic bag consumption can save 100 to 700 bags each year. If you are like me and hoard every plastic bag you get, this will help eliminate the problem as well. 

Establishing a more sustainable lifestyle is not as hard or expensive as you might think. Any switch or effort can help.