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Waste not, want not

As college students, we often feel the need to get involved in social movements to try to make a change in the world. However, it can be tricky with time and financial restraints. But there are plenty of options that could actually save you money in the long run.

Many large companies and even governments are making a call to action to lower the amount of waste that casually gets thrown into minefields and oceans. On average, a person will produce 4.4 pounds a trash per day, equaling up to 1,600 in just one year.

“We’re facing an ocean Armageddon: Every year, we’re dumping at least 8 million tons of plastics into our oceans,” said U.N. Environment Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Erik Solheim to CBS News 2017. “At the current rate, we’ll end up with more plastic in the oceans than fish by the middle of the century, and ultimately that comes back to our own food chain. We need to understand that if we kill our oceans, we also kill ourselves.”

We may look at this plastic epidemic and feel overwhelmed and unsure of how we can help, but there are small steps we can take to make a big impact.

First, look at the plastic products you use in your daily routine and find practical replacements. Replacing your toothbrush with one made from bamboo is a cheap way to start. On Amazon, you can buy a box of four bamboo toothbrushes for only $10. The plastic we use daily can take anywhere between 450-1,000 years to biodegrade and continue to leave a chemical residue for even longer. Bamboo is one of the most natural elements and is environmentally friendly, decomposing naturally into the environment.

Second, switching over to bar soap can decrease the amount of hair and body wash bottles that pile up in garbage dumps. Lush Cosmetics offers a variety of products to choose from for any hair type.

Third, you can make a big difference by purchasing a reusable water bottle and coffee mug. In 2016, more than 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were sold. The Euromonitor International’s global packaging trends show that the number will rise to 583.3 billion by 2021. If all the water bottles in the world were stacked on top of each other, they would reach more than halfway to the sun.

Finally a small solution something that doesn’t cost a penny is to simply not use straws when eating out. California has become the first state to ban straws in public restaurants and many are hoping that other states will follow suit.

Choosing to live a low waste life doesn’t have to become a radical, overnight change, but picking the non-plastic choice will begin a change reaction and make a significant difference.