Ah, Earth Day. The one day a year (except for the Arbor Day fans out there) when we are reminded that we all could show a little more love to the big sphere we call home.
Today more than ever, we are inundated with images of beaches covered in plastic and icebergs half their previous size. Seeing these images, it’s often overwhelming to wonder if our individual choices can make even a small dent in these global-scale problems. It’s easy to think that our individual actions can’t make a difference, but if we think about our vast sisterhood and the impact 250,000 members could make, suddenly 250,000 individual actions become a powerful force for good.
This Earth Day let’s think about a few simple ways Delta Gammas can make sustainable choices that show some love to our planet. Isn’t it time that we see Mother Earth as a sister, too?
It's electric (boogie woogie, woogie!)
You’ve heard this before: turn the lights off and unplug what you aren’t using. It’s a simple enough idea, but sometimes difficult to remember – especially in a university setting and in chapter houses. In spaces of communal living like these, lights are left on 24 hours a day, chargers are continuously plugged in at each bedside and the occasional TV left on (with Netflix inquiring if you’re still watching). It’s easy to evade the personal accountability of lowering electricity usage in communal spaces, especially in those where we aren’t seeing each month’s electricity bill. Make it part of your routine to unplug chargers in the morning and take a lap through your house, apartment or residence hall to shut off lights. Soon enough the habit will stick, and you’ll do it without even thinking about it.
Let’s get to the bottom of this
Beyond the resources like electricity and water that we use, the materials we use each day have a large, visible effect on the planet. Think about the trash can in your bathroom filled with nearly-empty aerosol cans, plastic makeup packaging and *shudder* partially full bottles of nail polish. Most municipalities have community recycling centers and household hazardous waste disposal services (looking at you, nail polish), where you can take these items. Sustainable practices in beauty are trendy, too. Many beauty bloggers are taking on “project pan” to use up every last bit of a makeup product (or, “hit pan”) before recycling it and before they allow themselves to buy another product in that category. Many also keep an “empties” drawer to track what products they are using up and make it easier to take a single trip to a recycling center. If you find yourself wanting to toss out partially used but not-quite-right skincare and beauty products, find a women’s shelter or organization like Project Beauty Share who will accept gently-used products.
Sorry for what I did when I was hungry
In the kitchen, we encounter even more opportunities for sustainable choices. Are you constantly going through rolls of paper towels, when a kitchen towel could do the trick? Are you tempted to buy single serving plastic containers of juice, oatmeal or other foods at the grocery store instead of choosing the bulk option? It happens to the best of us, but luckily there are simple changes that can help us be a little more environmentally conscious in the kitchen, like choosing local, seasonal produce and avoiding wrapping them in those staticky, green-tinted plastic bags provided. Check out this article from Bustle for more sustainable grocery shopping hacks and this state-by-state guide to zero-waste grocery stores from Litterless. Our chapter facilities have many opportunities to be more sustainable in the kitchen as well, such as replacing styrofoam cups and to-go boxes with reusable dishes or versions made of recyclable or compostable material, like bamboo fiber.
It’s my party I can [recycle] if I want to
Our activities also play a large part in our environmental impact. The fraternity and sorority community is a frequent abuser of the fast fashion industry, with inexpensive T-shirts, costumes and props that are worn once then thrown away in the rush to pack up and move out at the end of the year. Our event decor is often treated the same way. Think of all the single-use plastic, balloons and painted banners that are discarded after each event or recruitment season and you can imagine the mountain of waste that must be sitting in landfills. The next time you host an event, find ways to invest in quality supplies that you could store and use again, and if your décor includes glitter or confetti, biodegradable is the way to go.
Earth Day is a holiday that puts a spotlight on sustainability, but our actions year-round are how we celebrate it. Small changes to our daily routine will become habits, and eventually the easy choice will be the sustainable choice. As an organization that strives to always “Do Good”, let’s make it a priority to do some good for the planet. Happy Earth Day, sisters!