Sustaining an environmentally friendly life

Here’s a quick how-to guide

Often, high schoolers hear about how the Earth is in danger and humans have to change their habits before it is too late. For teenagers, this can be tricky. Complete sustainability is a daunting task, but with a few small lifestyle changes, a more sustainable lifestyle is achievable, even for high schoolers.

Reassessing your unsustainable habits begins by making simple changes that will soon become a natural habit, according to Healthline.

“On average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic,” Healthline stated in an article.

Many Oak Park High School students are regulars at Starbucks. From their plastic cups, to their straws, the Starbucks packaging is not sustainable, to say the least. An easy solution is to grab a metal straw and reusable Starbucks cup for all Starbucks visits. If Starbucks drinkers switched to an alternative, the number of single-use products consumed per person daily would decrease significantly. 

According to Fast Company reporter Adele Peters, “The nonprofit behind the shareholder resolution, As You Sow, says that Starbucks uses 2 billion plastic straws each year. The nonprofit cites an estimate that Starbucks uses around 4 billion cups annually; a Starbucks release pegs the number even higher, at 6 billion.”

In general, having a metal straw and reusable cup on hand is useful for whenever you decide to go out.

Another option is to refuse plastic in small ways when going about your day. When you go on your Target runs, you might want to reconsider paying those extra ten cents for a plastic bag and instead opt to carry the products out to the car.

The daily food choices of families and individuals significantly increase the carbon footprint per person. Animal-based food products often leave a significant carbon footprint on the planet; perhaps consider reducing meat consumption to once a week or once every two weeks.

Additionally, cutting out dairy can have numerous positive effects on both one’s health and carbon footprint. Coconut milk, almond milk and oat milk are all viable alternatives that do not use a lot of water for production or have a major negative environmental impact.

“Producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires 650 square meters (7,000 square feet) of land, the equivalent of two tennis courts and more than 10 times as much as the same amount of oat milk, according to [a University of Oxford] study,” writers Clara Guibourg and Helen Briggs concluded in a BBC article.

Another big change that you can make is avoiding fast fashion. Clothes that are worn for a year and then dumped in the trash or donated then get replaced by another item that is trendy by teenagers. This doubles the amount of plastic and unsustainable materials as there are now two items in circulation. 

“Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. What’s more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean,” Business Insider writer Morgan McFall-Johnsen wrote.

Teenagers should look into purchasing pieces of clothing that they love and will wear for a long period of time. Invest in long-lasting clothing and fashion instead of following the trend.

Clothing is not the only thing that teenagers follow trends for, but also, electronics. When a new phone comes out, many consumers trade-in for the latest edition to be more hip. However, that is contributing to waste. By waiting a couple of years after the contract to get a new phone, the number of phones Apple and other companies produces would decrease.  Consider repairing before upgrading.

These are just a couple of lifestyle changes out of countless others to help save the earth. There is fear that the world may be heading to a place in which climate change effects are irreversible, and to combat this we must start changing our actions before it is too late.

“Doing your part to take care of the environment helps you protect yourself and others from the climate’s effects on health,” the CDC wrote.