Purchasing Power as a Sustainability Tool

I walk toward the trashcan to dispose of the remnants of my dinner and find myself deeply contemplating where to place each item. Does this belong in the compost, the recycling, or just the trash? I think most Colorado College students are environmentally conscious in this manner. We recycle. We use disposable cups, usually. We are cognizant of the existence of our carbon footprint. However, on an individual level, there are so many ways students, including myself, can improve their lifestyles in an environmentally friendly manner.

The simplest ways to do so are pretty evident in day-to-day life at CC. Bring a reusable cup around to get coffee or tea, instead of using a paper one. Carry a reusable water bottle. Don’t buy items with those plastic rings around them. Try to stay away from individually packaged food, as they use excess amounts of packaging. Bring a plate to the Preserve. And, turn off the lights and other electronics when they are not in use.

Since all of the ways listed above will likely make only a minuscule improvement to our environment, there are ways we can think larger. As consumers, we buy and we buy and we buy. We spend money, likely multiple times a day, and we give tons of our money to large corporations and companies. Still, it is rare that we contemplate each large company or corporation to which we give our money.

Recently, Fortune 500 news published an article explaining that only 100 corporations are responsible for 70 percent of global carbon emissions. These companies include Saudi Aramco, Russian gas giant Gazprom, and Exxon Mobil. While it is an individual’s responsibility to help lessen the harsh impacts humans cause on the environment, we can do so in ways that may impact corporations with monumental effects on the environment. I suggest considering where you spend your money.

Furthermore, “sustainable brands and thrifting is basically a trend right now,” said Paige Shetty ’20. She continued to say that while that is great, it should not simply be a trend. Students who are environmentally aware, as the majority of CC students would like to be, should make a habit of purchasing from second-hand shops or stores that make an effort to sustainably source their materials. There are so many brands and restaurants that are environmentally conscious, and students are aware of that. However, as Shetty explained, it seems like we almost see this type of consumerism as a trend rather than a necessity. It is actually a very beneficial way to better our world.

While I am no environmental expert, nor am I by any means a perfect consumer, I think that there are ways in which CC students can truly help the environment. I often find myself joking about not seeing my future because the world will end soon due to how poorly we treat this earth. And, however depressing it is that the majority of our carbon emissions come from just 100 corporations, I see that as somewhat hopeful, too. It is really in the hands of consumers. If people buy into a product that causes harm, the company has no reason to stop it; they are making money. Nevertheless, if consumers consider where they place their money in order to prove they care, perhaps corporations will stop causing so much harm.

Caroline Williams

Caroline Williams

Caroline Williams

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