College students can practice daily sustainability for a greater change in the environment

Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

Being environmentally conscious and sustainable isn’t just the responsibility of large corporations. Living sustainably is a choice every individual person has to make. Even college students have the opportunity to make small changes in their day to day lives, and contribute to a healthier planet. 

One advocate for sustainability in Boise’s community is Alex Brooks, the executive director and education manager of the Boise Urban Garden School.

The Boise Urban Garden School is an environmental education center in West Boise that teaches community members about nutrition and gardening, as well as how they can incorporate those ideas into their lives to become more sustainable. 

Brooks shared ways she practices sustainability in her own life that she believes are feasible for others to follow.

“I try to eat as locally as possible. I grow a lot of food in my backyard and my husband is a hunter, which I think some people think isn’t very sustainable, but we view it as a sustainable practice,” Brooks said. “I think food is a big thing for me when it comes to living sustainably.”

Brooks also practices sustainability through her transportation and shopping habits. 

“I’ve always strived to be a bike commuter, but I don’t know if Boise is set up super well for that,” Brooks said. “I try to consolidate my driving. If I know I’m gonna be in one part of town, I’ll run my errands in that part of town, and I try to conserve gas that way.”

To better practice sustainability when shopping, Brooks suggests buying from local small businesses, such as at the farmer’s market. She also eats out as little as possible and utilizes community-supported agriculture shares. 

“I think everyone knows the basic ones of recycling and walking when you can, instead of driving. The one thought that prevailed through all my thoughts is driving with your dollar, so making your decisions on what you’re buying with a sustainable mindset,” Brooks said. “Whether that’s buying local food, knowing where your food comes from or buying things that are sustainably made or will last a long time. We’ve gotten away from the mindset of buying things that will last even if they’re a little bit more expensive.”

[A student shops at a thrift store.]
Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

A few options for sustainable shopping include thrifting, shopping at consignment stores, buying from small businesses and going to flea markets and farmers markets.

Many local businesses in Boise are dedicated to practicing sustainability, such as the Boise Co-op, Uptown Cheapskate, Roots Zero Waste Market, The Outdoor Exchange and ReStyle. 

These businesses, and many more in the Treasure Valley, work to reduce waste and sell more sustainable products, making them great options for mindful purchases. 

“That would be my best advice, be mindful of how you spend your money, because your decisions do have an impact,” Brooks said. “We can do things like recycling and encouraging others to make really good environmental decisions, but we live in a society that’s driven by money, and I think that’s the really impactful way to make a difference.”

Brooks emphasized the need to take the time to research businesses you are buying from and look into how employees are treated, as well as whether sustainable materials are being used. 

Taking steps toward sustainability in your day to day life doesn’t need to involve huge amounts of time or money.

Making small changes like eating locally, growing food, driving less or shopping locally can add up to a far greater change for the environment and can be achieved by nearly anyone. 

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