With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent announcement to ban single use plastics in the next couple years, it is clear that being environmentally friendly is of utmost importance these days. I know that we all want to help the environment, but sometimes we are unsure as to how. What can a student do to help?

It may not feel like a lot, but there are a few small things that you can do to help. If everyone participates, we really can make a difference. There are more options than just eliminating straws! (though that is a good start).

Use reusable shopping bags. This seems like an obvious one, but I know that I can be guilty of forgetting them from time to time. If you ever do use the plastic ones, try to reuse them too! You can also try to use reusable produce and bulk bags or containers. Most stores are pretty flexible!

Buy a reusable water bottle. If you drink a lot of water, buying single use plastic water bottles is extremely unsustainable. If you don’t like tap water, try using a water cooler or a Brita Filter to refill your reusable bottle.

Bring a travel mug to your favourite coffee shop. Chain cafes like Tim Hortons and Starbucks often let you fill your own cup! Some places even have options available for purchase at checkout! If you are an avid coffee fan, purchasing a reusable mug is not only economic in the long run, but also will help you make a decent dent in your carbon footprint.

Try to walk or bike. It isn’t always possible, but if you are travelling a short distance, biking and walking may be an option for you. It can be a great way to reduce emissions and also get some exercise. If you need to travel a distance, see if public transit is an option. Or, try carpooling! Also, make sure you avoid idling.

Support companies that practice good corporate social responsibility. When you purchase from a company, look up their CSR reports. Try to purchase from companies that make environmentally conscious decisions. Many companies have upfront sustainability missions like Patagonia, Lush, Beyond Meat, Tentree, and many others! Do some research to figure out which companies you should support and those you should avoid. Check out their policies on other activities too, such as where and by whom their products are made, their beliefs on animal testing and how they treat their lowest ranking employees.

I encourage you to try these things, but also remember that this is by no means an exhaustive list! Try to do some research to figure out other ways that you can make a difference, even just as a student. You can make more of an impact than you’d think!

What is your favourite way to practice sustainability? Reply or tell us in the comments!

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