In the world of fast paced living and college budgets, it is so hard to stay environmentally friendly. Everyday someone new is saying that the world is going to end because of (insert literally anything here). But actually, it is kind of true. The environment is deteriorating fast. If you are reading this and don't know what I'm talking about, I recommend watching the documentary Before The Flood. It is an amazing documentary exploring many issues involving climate change. Best of all, the main character is Leonardo DiCaprio, so who wouldn't want to see that? If not for the environment, watch it for Leo. To make your life easier, I have nailed down 5 easy ways to become environmentally friendly.

Start reading labels

This is the most important and easy thing to do to reduce your environmental footprint. You can do this by simply start paying attention to the labels on the foods you buy. Not only will this help you be healthier, but it will make you more aware of what you are supporting and consuming. If you see the ingredients list is a short novel, then maybe a similar product with a shorter ingredients list would be better. Ingredients like Palm Oil and soy are common in many foods, but have a huge environmental impact. Palm oil is something that is in almost every product, even if it isn't listed. The production of palm oil burns a ton of CO2 into the air, and is causing mass amounts of deforestation. Organic palm oil is definitely better and you can find it on many organic products. 

If you find yourself wandering around the grocery store checking out all the new things you can snack on, take a peek at the label. A quick Google search on certain ingredients will help you make easier decisions on what to buy, and what not to buy. 

Ask for no straws

Straws are being ridiculed for their non-recyclability, despite their fun shapes and colors. Yes, even though it's sad you can no longer use the twisty straws, it will benefit you in the end. Every restaurant and every fast food chain gives you straw after straw. The straws end up pilling up, and ultimately landing in a landfill, or stuck in a sea creatures mouth. 

So the next time you are at a restaurant or a fast food joint, just ask for an iced tea, hold the straw. 

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Bring reusable/paper bags when grocery shopping

If you are like me and just love wandering around Hyvee, Walmart, or any grocery store really, you end up leaving the store with all of your groceries in 10 separate plastic bags. These bags end up pilling up, and trust me, I know. Instead of having to carry all the separate bags, or having to double bag, so groceries don't fall through, start bringing either paper (recyclable) bags, or reusable bags. Trader Joes sells reusable grocery bags in their store for around $1.00 (they are more expensive on Amazon) and they are well worth it. They are bigger and much more sturdy.

Another way to do this without spending more money, is start collecting bags from places you shop, like Urban Outfitters, Lunds & Byerlys, Lulu Lemon and all sorts of places. You can take these bags grocery shopping and continue to use them for years to come. Having these bags will allow you to be much more environmentally friendly. 

Always turn off the lights

This is something easy to add to your list of habits. Whether you bite your nails, eat McDonalds everyday, or like to drink... often, turning off lights around your house is one healthy habit to counter the rest. Turning off lights when you leave a room in your house saves a ton of energy, and not to mention lightens up your energy bill. Save money, and the earth, now thats just common sense. 

So even if you aren't a die hard environmentalist, who travels the world to hug trees, turning off the lights can decrease your environmental footprint and increase the dollars in your wallet.

Reusable water bottles

I know that sometimes tap water may not taste the best and the classic excuse to buy cases on cases of water bottles is that they taste better. I am here to tell you that I can solve your problems. If you hate tap water, I suggest you buy a Brita Filter, which gets rid of that gross iron taste of tap water. 

Now that you have great tasting water, you can buy a sick water bottle that you can deck out in your coolest stickers. I recommend buying either a hydroflask (a water bottle that is stainless steal and stays cold or hot for up to 24 hours), or a Nalegene. Both bottles are BPA free and customizable. I have a beautiful pinkish red Nalgene that has been the love of my life for quite some time now. Buying a Nalgene is less expensive, but both are great options in terms of durability. 

The simple action of buying a reusable water bottle will cut the amount of plastic you use, which usually ends up in a landfill, ocean, or around a penguins neck, will cut your spending in half and contribute to a environmentally friendly lifestyle. Plastic water bottles also take an obscene amount of water to produce, worsening the worlds water contamination and usage. So save the oceans and your wallet. 

Assorted Plastic Bottles · Free Stock Photo

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