This year’s Earth Day celebration from The City Voice is a week long event featuring student editorials submitted by the City High Middle community, including City Voice writers, E-Club members, and ESS students, all explaining what sustainable living means to them. New posts will be published daily from now until Friday, culminating in a special live Q&A panel with City High Middle science teachers and student environmental activists. Tune in with YouTube live on Friday at 2:00 PM to get your questions answered on air!

All editorials reflect the writing of students and do not necessarily represent the views of The City Voice or City High Middle School. Submit your own editorials at https://forms.gle/sxREkfgfupiY4U1j7

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The biggest thing that readers can do to help the environment is to turn off lights when they’re not being used, turn off running water when it’s not being used, recycle when needed, and not litter. It’s the most basic things that I and others do in our daily lives to live more sustainably. (“Approaching Jamaica” by somegeekintn is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
A big thing that many people actually do incorrectly without knowing it is recycling. It is very important to recycle correctly. This includes knowing what can and can’t be recycled and making sure the items you put in the recycling bin are rinsed or washed clean. Our recycling systems need a lot of work, but it comes down to the commitment of the people who put the items in the recycling. If items are placed in the bin that are dirty or don’t belong there, they can contaminate that entire bin which then has to be thrown out, can cause complications for workers at recycling plants, and can break the machinery at the recycling plant which takes time and tax money to repair. If you live in Grand Rapids, take a look at the top of your recycling bin or go to reimaginetrash.org to find guidelines for what belongs in your recycling bin, and share what you learn with your family and friends! If you live outside of Grand Rapids, you can figure out what service picks up your recycling and look up your local guidelines. Recycling correctly is so simple, and can make a huge difference! – Ella Postuma (“Redwood Starburst” by CraigGoodwin2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Gardens. Loads and loads of gardens, or like a mini-farm in your backyard. – Sparsh (“Redwoods star” by wolf4max is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Educate yourself on items that your recycling company accepts and thoroughly clean out containers before recycling. To me, living sustainably at it’s core is simply being aware of the impact your actions can have on the environment, and taking the initiative to reduce that impact. Everything helps. (“Monarch Migration” by nhanusek is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Living sustainably is essential to ensure the future of humanity on Earth. While drastic changes are often hard to make, there are many small adjustments you could make to your daily routines which can have a large impact on the environment. Plastic is only becoming an increasingly common item in our everyday lives. From bottles to electronics, plastics are becoming a cornerstone of consumer products, which is extremely dangerous to the environment. Whenever possible, try to use reusable bags for groceries. Bringing your own bag eliminates the need to use a plastic one. Similarly, using reusable bottles and straws for drinks can make a large impact. Turning off the lights when you leave a room is also a simple adjustment you can make to reduce the use of non-renewable resources that are harmful to the environment. On the topic of lighting, replacing your incandescent light bulbs with LEDs can help reduce the energy being consumed. I hope these tips can help you live more sustainably! – Vishnu Mano (“Makua Cave” by Marvin Chandra is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Try to save energy wherever you can. Turn off the lights and let some sunlight into your room for a change (“Nature” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Food is a big factor in sustainability. Eating less meat and getting organic foods helps the environment a lot. (“Dandelion wind” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Personally, living sustainably means choosing alternatives that are reusable and create the least waste possible. However, disposing of our waste is just as important as well. One fun and interesting way to make your daily routine more sustainable is by compacting your garbage into eco bricks. An eco brick is a plastic water bottle packed tightly with plastic waste, and it can be used to build furniture, gardens, buildings, and more. If you are interested in creating eco bricks and learning more about how they are used, visit this website https://www.ecobricks.org/ (“Echo Canyon” by ZionNPS is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
Be conscious of your global footprint and become educated on environmental health and sustainability. Find what aspects you find most interesting and advocate for the preservation of life on our planet. Recognize your waste and how to properly sort it and try and establish a compost bin for your own home. Reduce the amount of water waste and minimize support for industries such as dairy milk and meat especially those who practice unethical standards. (“Ice nature” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Be conscious of your global footprint and become educated on environmental health and sustainability. Find what aspects you find most interesting and advocate for the preservation of life on our planet. Recognize your waste and how to properly sort it and try and establish a compost bin for your own home. Reduce the amount of water waste and minimize support for industries such as dairy milk and meat especially those who practice unethical standards. (“You Can Help Conserve Coral Reefs” by NOAA’s National Ocean Service is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
One easy way that my family and I make our daily routines more sustainable is by composting. Composting helps to make nutrient rich soil while reducing landfill waste. It’s wonderful for the environment, and it’s super easy! What I like to do is keep a bowl in the kitchen to put leftover meal scraps or vegetable stems into, then when that gets full, dump it into a large bucket in the garage. Once that bucket gets full, I can use the compost in potted plant soil, or just toss it in the woods to help fertilize other soil. Composting is a great, easy way to live sustainably and benefit the environment. – Berit Doublestein (“nature” by barnyz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Make a compost. Stop using one use plastics. Recycle. Shop locally, not brands like Nike or Adidas, thrifting works too. Switch your mindset to stop being so consumerist, buy less in general. (“Nature” by ForestWander.com is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
It’s the little things. Save energy by turning off the lights after leaving the room. Being sustainable is eating less meat. It’s reusing. It’s using less paper. It’s donating. There are two main themes here: using less and upcycling more. These two can make a huge difference in not only your life, but the lives of future generations. – Romy (“Flower nature” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Some easy ways to help the environment are to pick up any litter you see in public (be careful of glass, wear gloves!), or to make an effort to recycle things instead of dumping them straight in the trash. Bringing a single reusable water bottle rather than using a bunch of plastic ones also is a great help in helping our environment! (“nature” by barnyz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
They can do their best to choose organic and compostable items. Do research about what brands are ethical, and if they’re able, choose to only shop at ethical shops. They can do their best to reduce waste and find more opportunities to recycle or compost. (“nature” by barnyz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
I believe that reduction is the most impactful method to make people’s daily routines more sustainable because our American lifestyle consists of an overwhelming amount of intaking our Earth’s resources. The more we reduce in our daily lives the less negative impact we have on our environment and the closer we come to living sustainably. Impactful reduction methods are cutting meat out of your diet, driving less, limiting the amount of goods you buy and using less electricity and water. In our society of comfort we have taken advantage of the access we have to resources and now we must be mindful of what we are using to determine whether the things we use are necessary or are for leisure alone. – Tessa Scully (“Nature” by joaoloureiro is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The implementation of sustainable living will become more and more imperative as our society continues to move into the future. This is apparent as our resources deplete; we destroy swathes of native forests to plant rows of uniform palm oil trees, we destroy the habitat of native species to farm with pesticides and farming practices that wreck the soil, and single use plastics line our oceans. How can we turn back the clock on our harmful environmental practices? The key to sustainable living can be derived from two concepts: the letting go of consumption under capitalism and a deep emphasis on community living and self government. First, the capitalist ideology spares no room for focus on the environment as its only aim is to put money in the pockets of private business. This does not encourage green practices, as they are not as profitable as the exploitation of our planet might be. Even if a person living under capitalism desperately wishes to save the Earth and use sustainable practices, the crushing weight of a capitalist society still falls upon their shoulders. Perhaps their own practices are sustainable, but the practices of the international corporation they work for to put food on the table may not be. This is where the idea of community living intersects with that of the amendment or even complete abolition of capitalism as an economic system for the greater good of the environment. Healthy relationships between members of a community are not encouraged by capitalism. Long hours and the commodification of being alone has isolated individuals living under capitalism. As our technology evolves alongside us, isolation only becomes greater as we cease to rely on real human interaction and instead move to screens as a source of information and stimulation. Breaking the chains of isolation, becoming involved with grassroots movements and communal spaces, is direct action against those who divide us and force capitalist conformity. Power comes from numbers; a community’s voice can be heard. If not anything else, I leave you with this. Grow your own basil. Go to the park. Drop off some art at a neighbor’s house. Become intimately involved with the people you meet. Our future lies in community gardens and in hand painted signs at protests. You are the change you want to see in the world, so go out and be great. (“Tree” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Obviously they can do the little things like shutting off lights or driving less and walking/biking more. I think all that is helpful, but to live sustainably you have to go a little further. You could give up beef, start a compost, get solar panels for your roof. There’s so many different things you could do. – Freja Clauson (“Nature” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
I think researching the little things is the best way to start. For example, switching toothbrushes and switching up your routine. (“Nature bird” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Readers can try and limit the amount of meat they buy from large farm practices and instead buy meat from local sustainable vendors. Sustainably living looks like reducing the amount of packaged products I buy in order to help lower the waste produced by the products. – Minna Abdel-Moemen (“nature” by Blueocean64 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)