It feels as if it was just yesterday that we were aggravated by the John J. Hemmingson Starbucks’ controversial decision to halt its “for here” mug system. At this point last semester COVID-19 was just a minor thought in the back our heads.

None of us would believe that within a month we would be experiencing a world of change, let alone that we wouldn’t be able to use reusable mugs while studying for the rest of 2020. Yet, here we are in the middle of a global pandemic sipping our coffee out of disposable cups like in the olden, less sustainable days.

COVID-19 has been a major set-back for sustainability in so many ways. What was once a nice meal out with your family at the token family favorite restaurant, evolved into a movie night in complemented by a takeout meal and disposable cutlery. We have seen such changes in our very own COG and Cataldo. Meal after meal tossing out disposable plates, bowls, cups, cutlery and condiment packets.

So many minor, mindless acts of sustainability have been taken away from us. Being from California, lugging around reusable bags has been such a routine part of my everyday life that its impact on the environment never fazed me until disposable bags were the only option.

Here I am in November, squealing in excitement to finally see the sign displayed outside Trader Joe’s—beautifully hand-painted in the font us fanatics all know too well—saying reusable bags are allowed again. No longer is my massive collection of paper bags looming inside my coat closet—rest peacefully. 

With the current election being such a pivotal, uncertain time for climate change action, it is clear that now, not later or sometime soon, is the time to make change for the future of our planet.  It is profoundly urgent for us to research and allocate time to making sustainable choices that we typically wouldn’t pursue in the past. 

I have always been fascinated by the quaint, adorable compost bins that friends of mine maintain and I finally made the Amazon purchase, did some research and embarked on my own composting journey this semester.  As it turns out, composting isn’t as complex and laborious as it seems.

Dumping fruit and veggie remains into my compost bin after cooking myself a meal wouldn’t have sparked such joy in me months ago but being able to nurture our planet in this new way has felt profoundly empowering. 

There are so many ways to make simple, sustainable changes. You can use more Tupperware and reusable food storage bags in the kitchen, cut your time in the shower and purchase reusable fabric masks. Take yourself back to the basics and master the ins and outs of recycling that far too many of us overlook, and if you feel inspired start that compost bin. 

No matter how intense or minute your new sustainable acts are, just think of the change we will be able to make in our world when we finally move past COVID-19. Those dwindled daily sustainable tasks will eventually make their way back into our lives, on top of the new lifestyle changes we have given time and energy to introduce.

These are significant changes that I believe will leave an alluring smile on Mother Nature’s face. Now, go tackle a new sustainable endeavor and make her proud.

Natalie Rieth is an arts & entertainment editor. Follow her on Twitter: @natalie_rieth.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.