How to be sustainable on any budget – The Rider News

By Bailey Adams

Activities such as shopping for clothes and choosing what to eat are necessities in our lives, even though they often represent some of our most wasteful habits. Buying in bulk to save money, but having to throw it all away when it goes bad contributes to one of the biggest methane producers: food waste. Our clothes go out of style so quickly that it’s easier and more affordable to buy fast fashion and always have a closet of the latest trends on hand. So do we really have a choice to be more sustainable?

As college students, the majority of us actively try to monitor how much money we spend and optimize our dollars. Sometimes items in stores that are marketed as durable cost a little more than what you would traditionally buy, and you need to figure out where that extra money is coming from. Maybe the company charges more because it uses biodegradable materials, or it pays fair wages and uses only ethical labor practices. But perhaps the added cost comes from “greenwashing,” a term that describes tricking consumers into thinking they’re choosing a more sustainable option when the product is really just average.

One way to check a company’s status is to find out if it is B Corporation certified. B Lab is an organization that compiles data from companies in all areas concerning the environment and ethics and assigns them a score for each category. To become a Certified B Corporation, a business must “meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.”

It can seem daunting to do research before purchasing a product, and in some cases if you want to choose a more durable product, it may be more expensive in the short term, but last longer as these are usually products better quality reusables. Often you can get around this cost by buying used. Local thrift stores have a wide variety of kitchen appliances, home decor, and even electronics such as televisions in great condition.

Savings has become very fashionable in recent years with students, especially around clothing. Asked about his thoughts on saving, Andrew Dysart, a senior finance and data analyst, said: “Saving is something I do more when buying clothes. It’s cheaper and it helps the environment. I think more people in general should save up for clothes.

Create your own style with second-hand clothes from all decades or search for designer brands at discount prices. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s always fun to find! Maybe you have your eye on something specific: in that case, try an online savings platform like Depop, Poshmark or Helpsy. When shopping on Helpsy, be sure to use the Rider link or enter the code “RIDERHELPSY” at checkout to support our sustainability office!

Sometimes the most durable options are even the easiest and cheapest. The most sustainable practice in consumption is reduction, which means buying less to waste less. Think about an item before you buy it and how it impacts your overall sustainability. Do you need it? Is there an option that is better or will last longer? It will also help keep costs down, making sustainability the easier choice from a consumer perspective.

Choosing the most durable option can sometimes seem like more work. Xander Praski, actuarial scientist, said: “Convenience is often prioritized over durability. Luckily for us, our Rider location offers easy, local, eco-friendly options. Staying local by shopping at farmers’ markets and picking seasonal produce are great ways to cut down on the fuel-guzzling commuting miles associated with your food.

Terhune Orchards is local to Lawrenceville and has implemented several sustainable practices on their farm such as solar power, crop rotation and technologies for optimal irrigation. They even have pick-your-own days where you can select your own produce straight from the factory! The Trenton Farmers Market has a refill where you can purchase items such as grains and spices with your own containers and avoid the cost of packaging. Not only does this help your pocket, but it also helps keep unnecessary plastic wrappers out of landfills.

What if we continue on our current path of consumption without worrying too much about the environment? Businesses and consumer businesses will thrive and maybe individual buyers might save a little money in the short term, but the real cost will be paid by the land. Extensive climate research has pointed to the fact that if global temperatures exceed 1.5℃ by 2100, impacts such as sea level rise, storm frequency and intensity, and loss of biodiversity will be exacerbated. With our current actions, the predicted global temperature rise by 2100 will exceed 2℃. We must act quickly and take our future into our own hands. Make an investment in the future of your planet by choosing to be a more sustainable consumer with better research and adding fun alternatives like thrift and local farmers markets into your shopping habits.

Earnest L. Veasey