Sustainability in the Time of Coronavirus

By: Elizabeth Weber

With many traveling home due to the unexpected close of the semester, the investigative committee decided to change its course towards something more applicable to current events. With so many current stressors, sustainability and recycling might not be the first thing on your mind; however, I hope to provide you with some tips on how to achieve sustainability at home and what to do with your free time. Hopefully, we can all reemerge as more sustainable if we take this time to reflect on our day-to-day actions. It is important to note that your health and safety do come first, and you should not compromise your health for sustainability. 

 

Bring Awareness

One impact that the coronavirus has already brought is the cancelation or postponement of many events. For example, the European Union postponed their climate law debates; however, this has not stopped people from promoting sustainability in the world. Like Greenhawks Media, who will continue posting throughout the semester, other events have transferred online in hopes to spread the word. In order to avoid crowds taking to the streets, Greta Thunburg proposed bringing the Climate Strike to  tweets, an idea that allowed people from all over the world to  connect over the goal to improve our Earth. 

Despite the coronavirus being a scary thing, we can take this time to connect in a new way and still spread awareness about sustainability. When we do come back to Miami in the fall, we can take what we have learned and apply that to our classes, the dining halls, the University and our day-to-day lives. Until then, we can educate ourselves and others about what is going on in the world and think further about why we are striking for the climate. Take the time you have and learn something new about what you can do for the planet and share it with someone else (in a safe manner)! 

 

Continue to Recycle! 

Get updated on what your recycling center does and does not recycle. Recycling is an easy step to help conserve resources, save energy and reduce the stuff that gets thrown away into the landfill. An important idea that a past teacher taught me was that “there is no away.” When we throw away our trash, we often forget about it as soon as it leaves our hand; however, many of these various items will persist in our landfills for longer than our lifetimes. An easy thing to recycle is a water bottle; however, when they end up in a landfill, they can take up to 450 years to recycle! That being said, it is sometimes difficult to know what is or not recyclable. Luckily, Miami’s EcoReps organization has created a visual chart to help you with just that! 

Chart by EcoReps

To describe recyclables even further:

Plastics Plastic water Bottles, milk jugs, etc.
Metals  Aluminum cans, pop cans, soup cans, etc.
Cardboard Tops of pizza boxes (not greasy), cereal boxes, granola bar boxes, and almost all other boxes 
Glass Bottles, jars, etc.
Cartons Milk cartons, juice cartons, etc. 

 

In the dorms at Miami, EcoReps offers specialty recycling, like Brita filters, batteries, and plastic bags: now that many are off-campus, make sure to get in touch with your local recycling centers to see what they offer! By doing these different recycling practices and teaching your friends and family, they can also be better applied when you come back here at Miami. 

Another signature initiative that EcoReps executes is its Trash Audits. Looking at the data they collected from earlier this semester, EcoReps found that 34.6 percent of the weight of their trash could have been recycled! This very large proportion can be reduced by every single one of us learning what is recyclable and doing our part. When we return to Miami, make sure to get involved in recycling and share this knowledge with others. It is difficult now because we see different restaurants  refusing to fill personal/reusable cups; however, we can come back stronger than ever. 

 

Start Using Eco-Friendly Alternatives! 

Being at home for so long might get repetitive, so you can try to initiate some eco-friendly alternatives to single-use products at home. First, you can survey the single-use items in your home. One example of a product that we all use is paper towels: these can easily be switched for cotton dish towels. These reusable dish towels can be used, washed and reused. If you are using them for washing your hands, just stick the towel in your back pocket and use it multiple times (specifically if you are cooking). Another usual switch is bringing reusable bags to the stores; however, many stores are asking to leave them at home. This is just one example of how we sometimes have to choose the less sustainable route for our health and safety; however, make sure to use a reusable bag in the future for your carrying needs! (You can get one from GreenHawks!) With toilet paper, try reconsidering how much you are using. No toilet paper is recycled, and using less will help with the possible rationing and the environment.  Overall, these are both great ways to make sustainable choices at home and can be applied to Miami when we return! 

 

Give Old Clothing a Second Life 

At Miami, we have a multitude of events that allow us to give our old clothing a second chance of life, such as the MUFD Clothing Swap or the Zero Waste Oxford Pop-Up Thrift Shop. At home, we are more limited in these activities so find a way to give your old clothing a redesign through cropping or tie-dying.  Arts and crafts will allow you to relax in these stressful times and give an old favorite shirt a new spot in your closet! 

 

Carry Love and Honor in your Life! 

Despite most of us not being at Miami right now, we can still carry Love and Honor with us wherever we go. Care for the people around you and the Earth that we live on, and when we finally return, we will truly be stronger than ever. It will take strength to get through the next few months, but we will get through it! Hopefully, we can take this time to reflect on ourselves and make sustainable choices that can be applied at school. I hope everyone remains safe and learns something new every single day!  

 

Cover Photo by Elizabeth Weber 

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