A new year has rolled around, and with it, people are making resolutions to try and improve their well-being and quality of life. For students at Southern Utah University, those resolutions may be to improve class attendance, get better grades or spend more time outdoors.
However, as the climate crisis continues to surge with record-setting wildfires and hurricanes during 2020, according to Time, New Year’s resolutions to increase sustainability can be a great way to learn more about environmental issues and reduce individual impact.
Here are six resolutions SUU students can make to reduce their carbon footprint and be more eco-friendly during 2021:
- Ditch plastic water bottles once and for all.
The market for reusable water bottles has continued to rise steadily over the last five years, and students across campus carry them to and from classes daily. SUU has water-filling stations located across campus to make using a reusable water bottle even easier.
With accessibility across campus and the relatively inexpensive one-time purchase of a reusable water bottle, ditching single-use plastic water bottles for good is an easy way to reduce waste.
- Shop second-hand.
Buying clothes and other items second-hand is not only a growing trend among college students, but it is also a way to promote sustainability while saving money.
Every year, over 10 million tons of clothing and fabric end up in landfills in just the United States alone. Buying second-hand keeps clothes out of the dump, and it also helps to reduce the demand for fashion companies to continuously produce more products.
Cedar City is home to numerous thrift stores, such as Deseret Industries and Ye Olde Catholic Thrift Shoppe, and neighboring St. George has even more. Online companies such as ThredUp and Poshmark allow people to also thrift clothes but from the comfort of their homes.
- Eat more plant-based meals.
National environmental organization the Sierra Club asserted that eating a vegan diet is the single best change a person can make to lower their carbon footprint because of the harmful environmental impacts of the animal industry.
However, a completely plant-based diet may not be an attainable option for everyone; goals such as eating meatless on Mondays, cutting out red meat, or simply eating more plant-based meals are strong steps in the right direction of developing more sustainable eating habits.
- Compost food scraps.
When food scraps end up in landfills, they cannot decompose properly and release methane gas, an especially harmful greenhouse gas, into the environment. Composting food scraps is an effective way to combat this because it allows food to decompose into fertile soil properly.
There are many different ways to create a compost, but for students who don’t have room for their own or find the task too daunting, local farmers such as Red Acre Farm have large composts they often allow Cedar City residents to dump their food scraps in. The SUU Community Garden also has a compost bin at their garden location near campus that members of their club can contribute to.
- Walk or bike to school.
With so many housing complexes close to campus, walking or biking to school is a great way to cut down on carbon emissions. SUU even has a program called T-Bird Bikes where students can rent bikes for free. Walking or biking also alleviates the stress of trying to find a parking place.
For those who live farther away from campus or maybe sleep in a little too late before class, carpooling with friends or roommates also helps to cut down on the harmful emissions that come from driving.
- Join clubs that teach about and promote sustainability.
A great way to become more eco-friendly is to learn from others, and SUU has two clubs on campus that help do just that.
The Sustainability Club teaches members simple practices to live more sustainably while also organizing larger events like protests to raise awareness about environmental issues. The SUU Community Garden allows students to learn more about gardening and composting by giving members hands-on experience doing both.
Both clubs can be contacted on T-Bird Connection and Instagram.
Story and Photo by: Lainey Cartwright