Sustainability tips to help celebrate Earth Day all year round

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — To celebrate Earth Week, Penn State’s Sustainability Institute (SI) staff and interns are sharing their favorite sustainability tips with the wider Penn State community. The suggestions below are simple ways for everyone to integrate the principles of sustainability into their lives and become better stewards of our planet’s resources.

Prior to Earth Day, short videos explaining these tips were featured on the SI’s Instagram page during the week. A full compilation of the videos can be viewed under the “Earth Week Tips” highlight reel. Here are some tips from the SI team:

– Let yourself be nourished by nature! Bella Briseno, employee engagement intern at SI, advises people to get outside and enjoy the sun and nature around them. Open the blinds and let the sun in to reduce the need for electric lighting and heating in your home or go out for a walk in the morning and let the sun wake you up instead of a cup of coffee.

Many researches illustrate the cognitive and behavioral benefits that exposure to fresh air and sunlight has on our bodies. Take care of your health and well-being by taking in vitamin D, which has been shown to improve your mood and leave you feeling ready to face the day. The sun is an excellent natural resource that can be harnessed in a variety of ways, not only with solar energy, but also by allowing it to boost your spirits.

– Eat vegetable! SI Communications Writing Intern Halina Dingo encourages people to eat more plant-based meals. Changing completely to becoming a vegetarian can be daunting and, for some people, impossible. However, even simply replacing a few meat-based meals a week with something plant-based can make a huge difference to your overall carbon emissions.

There are delicious vegetarian recipes out there, and you can even use these meals as a time to experiment with different cuisines. Indian cuisine offers some of the tastiest vegetarian recipes, and Middle Eastern restaurants also offer delicious vegan options. Whether you’re replacing some of your staples with plant-based protein, like making lentil bolognese instead of beef bolognese, or simply choosing a delicious vegetarian restaurant meal, these little choices add up over time. time to help you reduce your carbon footprint. Be sure to check out SI’s social media to see some of SI’s staff’s favorite plant-based recipes.

— Love your leftovers! Ilona Ballreich, program manager for the Sustainable Communities Collaborative at SI, shared her advice on using all your scraps and waste. Be sure to find creative ways to use your leftovers so they don’t go to waste. This not only saves you money, but also reduces food waste.

If you’re bored with your leftovers, think about how you can possibly turn them into another meal. Could they become a soup or a Buddha bowl? Could that leftover pasta be turned into a pasta salad or could that spare spaghetti sauce be used to top a meatball sub? Your kitchen scraps can also be used in many ways. Just searching “how to use kitchen scraps” online will bring up hundreds of ideas.

— Get involved in local politics! Peter Buck, Academic Programs Manager at SI, reminds the Penn State community that your voice and your vote matter. Keep up to date with local elections, talk to your elected officials and cast informed votes.

Often candidates for local offices will organize forums, events or walks in your community. Attending some of these events to learn more about the candidate and their policies is one of the best ways to ensure your vote is informed. These local elections are just as important as the federal elections. You can promote change directly in your community by engaging in local politics and learning about the sustainability policies and initiatives each candidate brings to the table.

If you don’t know where to start, start with make sure you are registered to vote. Next, find your local election office, where you can learn more about preparing for your next local election. To find national election information hereand meinformation about the local elections office here.

— Do your laundry sustainably! Michele Halsell, Assistant Manager at SI, shares her advice on sustainable laundry swaps. Doing laundry is a process that often uses between 14 and 20 gallons of water and 250 to 400 watts of energy per load. By making a few small trades, you can help reduce the carbon footprint of this chore.

Try switching to laundry sheets instead of using detergent pods or liquid. These come in a small cardboard container which can be recycled instead of a large bulky plastic container which is harder to recycle and often contributes to plastic waste.

Plus, save energy by drying your clothes on a clothesline, another way to harness the sun’s energy for good!

— Travel by bike! SI Sustainable Campus Strategist Krista Bailey advises people to get out and travel by bike. Not only is it good for the planet, but also for your wallet and your health. Promote health and well-being by getting up, going out and moving around. Take care of your finances by saving money on fuel and taking advantage of free parking.

For resources on bike paths across campus and Center County, as well as information on bike repair stations, registration, and parking, visit Penn State Transportation Service Bike Page.

— Reduce fuel consumption! Lydia Vandenbergh, associate director of employee engagement and education at SI, reminds people to do everything they can to reduce fuel consumption. Whether on foot or by bike, reducing your fuel consumption can help you save money and reduce emissions.

So ease off the throttle as much as possible, drive a little slower, or give up your daily commute in favor of walking to help protect the environment and your wallet.

– Compost! SI Director of Communications Sierra Keller reminds people to compost whenever they can. Penn State has a number of compost bins on campus and in the dining halls to help students reduce waste and choose to compost.

For more information on what can be composted, see Penn State’s recycling and composting page here. It is also possible to start your own composting at home, even if you live in an apartment! State College Borough offers curbside compost collection, and small compost bins or patio vermiculture kits are surprisingly easy to start yourself or inexpensively purchase. Here’s an article from Penn State Extension on how to start composting at home. and use it for home gardens.

— Eat local! Meghan Hoskins, COO of SI, advises people to eat locally and support their local farmers market or community supported agriculture (CSA).

Supporting these food outlets not only provides healthy seasonal food to fuel your body, but also shortens the supply chain between producer and consumer, saving gas and reducing production and distribution costs. The State College area is home to a plethora of different farmers markets and ASCs, including the student farm, where a variety of membership options provide fresh produce between the months of May and November.

Even incorporating a few of these sustainability tips into your daily life can help you sustain Earth Day celebrations throughout the year. Choose the tips and strategies that you can adapt to your lifestyle and start taking small steps to becoming a more sustainable citizen. Happy Earth Day from SI!

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