Five ways to live more sustainably

World Environment Day is quickly approaching on June 5, and this year it’s hosted by Canada! This occasion marks the largest celebration of the environment; created for the purposes of worldwide environmental awareness and reminding us why it’s so important to mobilize into action and protect the natural world we live in.

This year’s theme is “Connecting People to Nature.” In light of this, we have come up with five simple and effortless ways for you to reduce your carbon footprint and live more sustainably.

1. Conserve energy

"Please turn off the light when leaving" sign.Limiting your energy use is one of the easiest things you can do to be eco-friendly. After all, it’s the little things that add up. By turning the lights off when you leave a room, turning off your desktop when it’s not in use, or replacing your light fixture with compact fluorescent light bulbs, you can help the environment immensely.

2. Ride your bike, use the bus and carpool

Gas emissions and fossil fuels leave a huge carbon footprint on this planet, severely degrading the air we breathe and significantly contributing to climate. UWaterloo students are fortunate enough to have the bus pass included in their student fees - so use it! There is also a Facebook group called the “University of Waterloo Carpool” where you can find fellow UWaterloo students to carpool with. If you’re a cyclist, the Sustainable Campus Initiative has marked June as Bike Month, and they are holding some awesome events with great incentives (including free tune-ups) to get students out on their bikes. By riding your bike, using the bus, or utilizing carpooling services, you are taking one more car off the road.

3. Lose those plastic water bottles

Plastic water bottles littering the ocean.Water bottles serve as a huge contributor to climate change. Not only does the transportation of water bottles produce high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, but water bottle production also requires millions of crude oil each year. Live more sustainably and with more convenience by buying yourself a reusable water bottle! You can find one at virtually any retail service on campus, including the UWaterloo Store and there are water bottle refilling stations located all over campus.

4. Eat locally

St. Jacob's Farmers' Market.Did you know that the average food item in our dinner travels about 1,500 miles to get on our plates? By eating locally, you can reduce the need for the long transportation routes that continue to pollute the air. Waterloo has an amazing market nearby called St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market that that offers local, healthy and fresh food and the Kitchener Market hosts a Farmers’ Market every Saturday year-round.

5. Recycle and compost your waste

Recycling symbol.Waste has a huge impact on the environment. The larger landfills become, the more harmful chemicals and emissions are emitted. Reduce, reuse and recycle should be your life motto if you want to live sustainably! Before you throw something out, ask yourself: Is it recyclable? Can I compost this? Keeping these questions in mind will help you reduce your carbon footprint tremendously and summer is the biggest season for composting. Campus Compost is even giving theirs away for free! If you’re looking for fertilizer to grow your plants, shoot them a message to collect some free compost.

Although World Environment Day is an occasion specifically designated for celebrating nature, the fact of the matter is that the environment ought to be celebrated and cherished every day. Living sustainably is a personal choice, and though we can’t force everyone to live with nature in mind, we can make our own choice to live by the environment. After all, a drop in a bucket may seem miniscule, but let’s remember that in the middle of a drought every drop counts.

Good luck and happy composting, Warriors!

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