Earth Day 2018: Seven steps toward a more sustainable future

Sabrina Martinez

We watch videos of stingrays and dolphins dodging milk gallons, plastic bags and litter. We even tweet about how sad it is and swear we recycle.

But we hardly take steps needed toward sustainability. Our globe is polluted with smog in our air and trash in our oceans. Humans are natural consumers and everything that we eat, drink and buy are eventually discarded and end up in landfills, oceans or along our streets.

Your impact can start small by recycling and reusing packages, water bottles or anything paper. This Earth Day, take a pledge to take an active role in trying to save the planet one day at a time with these seven easy tips.


1. Withdraw from the straw  

Plastic straws may seem like a small inconvenience but the presence of straws in the ocean are actually a pretty big deal. According to the National Park Service, Americans use 500 million straws a day. Those small plastic tubes then make their way into our oceans and because of their transparency, are usually swallowed by fish and even get stuck in the noses of sea turtles, as seen in this viral video. Pledging to refrain from using straws at restaurants, fast food places or even at home could help our oceans.


2. Pass on plastic

Plastic is everywhere and it’s unavoidable. It packages our goods, holds our morning coffee and provides drinking water for on-the-go people. If you aren’t constantly recycling then you are committing to the plastic waste issue that our world is facing. According to a report by The New Plastics Economy, by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. To do your part, use reusable cups and refillable water bottles for your favorite drinks. (Using your own cup at Starbucks even gives you a discount.) Using a water filter on your sink is also a good investment and you will have unlimited drinking water and no plastic waste. You can also opt-out for packages of water bottles and opt-in for water gallons to refill every week at water stations or fountains.


3. Repurpose

Most everything that you throw away can be repurposed. Instead of throwing away old clothes or junk you find, see if they can be donated for reuse. Austin Creative Reuse is a creative reuse center that takes donations and sell materials of all kinds like lightbulbs, CDs, glass, tile, magazines, posters, fabric and anything else you can imagine. The items you buy can then be used to make art, projects, crafts or anything you can invision to create.


4. Safe shopping

Try to ditch the plastic bags and use canvas bags. They are sturdy and can be reused over and over. While Amazon is convenient for two day purchases, the plastic inserts and the cardboard boxes are always tossed in the trash rather than the recycling bin. By doing your shopping at actual stores can help reduce cardboard in our landfills. If you must make your purchases online, be sure to recycle its package or reuse and repurpose your boxes.


5. Eco-friendly home

Even in a dorm room or apartment complex you can live more eco friendly. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and take advantage of natural daylight instead of electrical light. Use less water when showering and limit frequent dishwasher use. When you wash your clothes, consider air drying and unplug all chargers and turn off surge protectors when they aren’t in use. Turn off your AC when you leave even choose to open windows to get fresh air.


6. Get out and about

Spend some time soaking up vitamin D, being active and being sustainable. UT students get a free membership to B-Cycle bicycles so you can ditch the Uber and ride for free. Spend time volunteering at local plantings, park and creek clean ups or recycling efforts. Even do your part by throwing away trash if you see it wherever you are.  


7. Be aware

Be aware of your impact and find out where you stand on the road to sustainability. Find out your ecological footstep for free at and make the changes you can to help our planet. Spread the word to friends and family to make sure they also try to make the changes to save our planet.