With recent reports of climate change attributed to human actions, it's simple and easy to change your college eating habits to be more eco-friendly this year! Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help you live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.

1) Bring a reusable water bottle

water bottle, Health, fitness
Carolyne Su

Using your own water bottle for water is a must! With fun brands like Hydro Flask or Nalgene, you can make your water bottle a part of your style. Pick your favorite color, add stickers and enjoy. The environment will enjoy less plastic too! Most on-campus dining venues will let you use your reusable water bottle when you buy drinks from the soda fountain too. If you don't know, just ask! Implement this easy tip for soft drink purchases and water needs. 

2) Meatless Monday 

vegetable, pepper, courgette, tomato, meat, ratatouille
Christin Urso

The idea of Meatless Mondays began during World War I to reduce meat consumption and help to conserve food during wartime. Refusing or reducing meat consumption one day a week can significantly lower your carbon footprint. Practice consciously avoiding meat one day a week and try out some veggie options that your campus offers. If you are a Cal Poly student, make Red Radish salads and wraps your go-to Monday meals. 

3) Grab one less napkin

Paper napkins go right to the landfill, so do your part and grab one less paper napkin the next time you eat in the dining hall or try a reusable cloth napkin. With all the saucy and messy food you get, you may not realize how many paper napkins you go through until you throw out that gross pile of used napkins. Thinking through how many napkins you take and use will help the environment tremendously. 

4) No receipt

Kathryn Stouffer

"Would you like a receipt?"

"No thank you!"

It's as easy as that! This simple tip can reduce paper waste and lower your exposure to the harmful chemical BPA.

5) Bring your own container

vegetable, meat, chicken
Jocelyn Hsu

Styrofoam, plastic and paper containers are some of the worst offenders for the environment. Not only are most of these non-recyclable because of waterproof coatings or insulation, but they are one-use products. Instead, buy a reusable container and bring it with you when you know you are taking food to go. Reusable containers have a great seal so you won't need to worry about food spilling in your backpack. 

6) No Straw

Healthy, sweet, Liquid, berry, straw, Drink, Cold, Red, Pink, outside, hand, cup, banana, Fruit, smoothie, strawberry
Katie Kasperson

Grabbing a drink before class? Say no to the straw. Or, treat yourself to a fun reusable straw. Reusable straws are portable and convenient for any drink you crave. If carrying a reusable straw around isn't your thing, then go old school and sip from the side of the cup. Either way, you are reducing plastic waste and drinking in a more eco-friendly manner. 

7) Up-cycle Packaging 

herb, vegetable, Greenhouse, Garden, Earth, Green, Eco, compost, Plant
Alex Frank

Most packaging can be washed out and reused. If you're not using it for your left-over food, up-cycle. Up-cycle means repurposing the packaging for a new use. My favorite is making any plastic tub a gardening container. Plant flowers, succulents or whatever you like to spruce up your dorm! 

8) Recycle

milk, yogurt, soda, water, ice, cream, juice
Kristine Mahan

We have been taught this simple method of giving back to our Earth since kindergarten, so don't forget about it. It's an oldie but a goodie. Remember: paper, plastics and glass can most likely be recycled. Check out what you can toss in the recycling bin. 

9) Bring your own bag (or backpack)

supermarket, Grocery, Market, Trader Joe's, checkout, shopping, Shopping bag
Caroline Ingalls

Taking a to-go meal from the cafeteria to class can make life a lot easier. It's simple to just stuff your meal or snack into your own bag or backpack. You can even get a reusable lunchbox to keep your meal warm or cold. These lunchboxes are college campus chic and are good for the environment too! 

10) Fill your plate with more fruit and veggies and less meat

salad, vegetable, pepper, onion, tomato, spinach, lettuce, oil
Jennifer Cao

You know what your parents would say: "eat your vegetables!". And yes, they were right! Approximately one pound of meat uses thousands of gallons of water to be produced so eating less meat saves water and reduces greenhouse gasses. If the vegetarian diet is not for you, help the environment by making your meat portion sizes smaller. The United States Department of Agriculture suggests that half of your plate should be fruits and veggies, and meat should be less than one-fourth of the plate. So next time you hit the buffet line, load up on that salad and fruit medley. 

So what should you do?

Although all these tips are easy to implement into your daily life, don't feel the pressure to follow every single one. By just being conscious of what you are currently doing that is not eco-friendly as well as what you can possibly do to be more eco-friendly, you are already one step towards making a change for the betterment of the planet. Pick what is easy at first and slowly add in more changes as it works for your current lifestyle. We all can't be perfect in our actions to be more eco-friendly, but we can all work towards making better choices for our environment.