Ali: Five Ways to Practice Sustainability at BU

With climate change looming large in the public’s mind, many people are making the switch to more sustainable practices to make a difference in the environmental impact they have. But what can you do as a college student to increase your sustainability? Here are six easy ways to practice sustainability at BU.

  • Buy pre-owned clothing and donate your unwanted items

There are a ton of fantastic thrift stores in Boston – go to them! If you want to be close to campus, Buffalo Exchange in Allston (180 Harvard Ave) is a great place to find nice clothes to update your wardrobe. The Garment District in Cambridge (200 Broadway) sells a variety of vintage clothing, as well as their infamous pile of clothing you pay for by weight, rather than item. If you’re planning to declutter your wardrobe this semester, consider donating your items (that are in good shape) to a local charity or thrift store. Goodwill in west campus (965 Commonwealth Ave) takes donations and is a short walk from central campus. Buffalo Exchange also buys used clothing for cash or trade. 

  • Invest in a reusable water bottle

Single-use plastic is one of the most common things that ends up in landfills, but it is also one of the easiest things to replace! Invest in a reusable water bottle to carry around throughout the day. Brands like Nalgene, HydroFlask, and Camelbak are popular choices, and you can find many options in most department stores. Consider buying an insulated bottle to keep your water cold all day! BU has a ton of water bottle filling stations throughout campus, so you can stay hydrated all day without using single-use plastic. Thirsty while you’re in your room? Get a brita pitcher to leave in your fridge for when you need it.

  • Turn off the lights when you leave your room, and unplug your chargers when not in use

One of the easiest ways to be sustainable while you’re in college is to unplug your appliances when not in use. According to Sustainability@BU, 10% of the energy used in the average American household can be attributed to items that are constantly plugged in. Not only does this waste money (assuming you’re paying for your own utilities), it’s also a big waste of electricity. Unplug things like phone chargers and lamps when not in use, or get a power strip with an on/off switch that you can turn off when not in use.

  • Take shorter, cooler showers

An easy way to save on water waste is to take shorter, cooler showers. While taking a long, hot shower may be tempting on a cold day, it can have a huge impact on the environment. According to the United States Geological Survey, showers can use 2-5 gallons of water per minute on average. By cutting your shower down by even a few minutes, you can make a big dent in your water usage. Taking cooler showers not only saves electricity, but it’s also better for your hair and skin than scalding hot water.

  • Buy reusable bags for shopping

As of December 2018, retailers in Boston are no longer permitted to distribute single-use plastic bags with handles. Bags must be recyclable, compostable, or reusable, cutting down on single-use plastic use throughout the city. However, paper and compostable bags now cost 5 cents per bag, which can add up if you find yourself shopping often. Some stores, like the aforementioned Buffalo Exchange, do not give out bags at all, and instead rely on patrons to bring their own. Buy a few reusable bags (you can get them for as little as 99 cents) and bring them with you on shopping trips. Not only are you saving money, but you’re saving the planet too!

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