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It's overemphasized, but saving our climate involves our habits

It's no secret that climate change is one of the most pressing issues today. With a problem this large, it's hard to imagine how big of a difference a single person can make in their everyday lives to help stave off the disastrous effects of climate change.

For me, I've been trying my best to limit the amount of waste I produce by making small changes in my everyday life.

Beauty is a large industry that generates billions of revenue each year, but the industry can be wasteful and produce tons of trash. People can be picky when it comes to their face wash and shower routines, some of which include exfoliants. 

Many exfoliants in the U.S. are now microbead-free, but not entirely environmentally friendly. Waste is generated through the packaging. What I’ve tried is either using a glass jar or an old container and creating my own exfoliant from all-natural recipes online. 

Not only is this cost-effective, but also it’s a fun way to get creative with your self-care routine and cut down on potential waste.

When I go shopping, I try to bring my own bag. Sometimes stores offer reusable bags you can buy at checkout while others give them to you for free. By bringing my own bag or reusing the plastic ones, I’m reducing the amount of plastic bags in my house and the number that I end up putting out into the world after I’m done with them. 

An unexpected way to help reduce the amount of waste you’re producing is through thrift shopping. I actually learned about this from a friend of mine. In 2015, textiles made up 7.6% of all municipal solid waste totaling to 10.5 million tons, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

It takes a large amount of resources to produce the clothes you see in stores with the excess fabric being dumped and occasionally used for something else. Through thrift shopping, you embody the idea of reusing and repurposing items that would otherwise be discarded in landfills.

I’ve also tried cutting down on my plastic straw use. Recently I purchased four metal straws online to travel with, but before I got them, I would cut up the plastic straws I used before throwing them in the trash.

Using public transportation and riding your bike are two ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Of course, driving your car to go to the store down the block is a nice luxury, but sometimes it’s better to walk or take your bike – that way you get exercise and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you produce.

Another way that I feel like I’m helping the environment is by growing my own plants (mostly succulents). In reality, doing that won’t make much of a difference, but it’s rewarding and they’re great room decorations. 

All of these are small ways someone can try to lessen their impact on the environment that I’ve been able to, more or less, successfully employ in my life. I still shop at department stores but while I’m there, I’m more aware of the impact that it could have on the environment. 

Trying to be more eco-friendly has been rewarding. It makes me feel like I’m making a difference, even if it’s small and it’s made me more aware of how my actions affect the environment.

There are other steps someone can take like installing solar panels, using wind turbines, buying an electric car and revamping your lifestyle and eating habits (cutting down on meat, fish and dairy), but these are luxuries that a lowly college student like me cannot afford.

Let’s be real. I’m not sure how much of an impact the small changes will make in the long run. I don’t have the power or influence governments and large conglomerates have to make a real difference. 

There’s always going to be someone out there who will use the plastic bag or straw that you didn’t use or who swears by a certain beauty product. Even with this harsh reality, I still try to stay optimistic that my actions won’t be for naught.

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