New year, new you

As the new year has come at us full throttle, remember your goals that you set at the end of last year: exercising four days a week, eating clean or only buying sustainably sourced clothing. Studies show that it takes an average of 21 days to break a bad habit and form a new one. This year, consider setting a sustainability goal.

I pledge to use less single-use plastics in my daily life. I try to bring my reusable straw and cup with me. If I forget them – I just say “no.” The 1,000+ years that plastic will remain on the Earth is not worth the 15 minutes I take to drink it.Yes, plastic in a landfill is estimated to take 1,000 years to decompose (although plastic hasn’t been around for 1,000 years, so that estimate reflects scientists best guess).

I used to think it was ok to get a single-use plastic cup because I would recycle it. However, recycling is not a “get-out-of-jail-free card.” If you put your iced latte or mocha frappuccino into the recycling, and there is still liquid in it, you contaminate the whole batch. This all seemed so complicated that the easiest solution is to just bring my own or go without.

I spoke with our Sustainability Director, Lacey Raak, and her sustainability goal this year is to not purchase clothing containing microplastics (polyester, nylon, acrylic, lycra or spandex) with the intention of reducing the amount of harmful microplastic in the ocean, as well as buying second-hand whenever possible. Eliminating these purchases has an added social justice benefit.

As Raak stated, “Companies that care about the earth often care more about people as well, so I know that the people making my clothes are being paid a fair wage and are working in good conditions.” The great thing about goals or resolutions is that they don’t have to be the same, nor are they achieved the same way. The important thing is to do something.

To lead the campus, members of the President’s Sustainability Committee set their sustainability goals this month. We challenge you to make your own sustainable pledge and share it with the world – keep a lookout for our display in the student center to join the President’s Sustainability Committee and share your sustainability resolution with your fellow otters!

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