Gardening here at my home in Washington made me think about sustainability, a word that means so much to me now, but had very different meanings when I started at Dartmouth. Growing up in Hawai'i, I would like to think that I always had the best interest of the environment at hand just because of how close I was to the natural world and how directly I could see the impact of human actions. When I went to Dartmouth, I learned that the word "sustainability" is loaded with so many different definitions and practices under its broad meaning. I wanted to share some ways that I learned to be a little bit more sustainable while at the Big Green, and maybe inspire you to make some changes!
The first and easiest step I made to being more sustainable was reusables! Use reusables for anything that you can, containers for eating, forks, cups, packaging, whatever you want to! I started carrying around a reusable mug and a spork in my backpack sophomore year, and it really changed the way I thought about plastic utensils and cups. I mean, I went to KAF every single day for at least one or two coffees my freshman year, and I just thought about how many plastic cups I was responsible for contributing to Dartmouth's waste stream! It's so easy to carry a spork around too, just to use instead of a plastic utensil whenever I got food to go at Collis or the Hop Grill. Both of those locations now use reusable food containers as well, so it's hard not to feel inspired to make changes.
The second thing I did is reconsider my food intake. Now I am not advocating that everyone become a vegetarian or a vegan, I am not one myself, but I do think it's important to understand the impact that food has on our climate. Just this winter I learned that it takes 10 times the amount of grain to raise one pound of beef for human consumption compared to chicken. That has a huge impact on the way crops are grown and making simple choices like eating a little bit less red meat or trying to eat mostly plants with smaller meat portions can have significant effects! Plus, Dartmouth Dining has tons of different options to eat sustainably AND locally in Foco, my favorite being the local (farm-raised) grilled salmon on a bed of fresh salad greens.
Being able to make these changes can depend on tons of different factors, and its totally fine to take small steps towards being more sustainable. I learned these very minimal changes throughout 4 years, and am still learning more every day. The hardest step is starting, and tons of little steps add up to big changes. Have a good week and stay safe you guys!