8 Simple Ways to Go Green
The myOptions Team
All of nature’s most beautiful and essential landscapes need our help in preservation. Here are some small, simple steps that will reduce your carbon footprint on campus!
1. Put the plastic water bottles DOWN and go invest in a reusable one!
This is the single most basic way to start your journey. Sure, plastic water bottles are convenient, but there is nothing quick and easy about disposing of them. As you probably know, plastic is not biodegradable, meaning that it doesn’t break down by bacteria or other living organisms. To destroy plastic, it needs to be incinerated which adds to the air pollution that is causing climate change. And if you need yet another reason, think about all the harmful chemicals you are ingesting. BPA and phthalates are only a few that could interfere with your hormones and negatively affect your health.
2. Go electronic.
For your classes, type your notes on your computer to save paper! And when you do choose to print, try out eco-friendly fonts that save ink. This includes Century Gothic, Brush Script, Courier, Ecofont Sans, Ryman Eco, and smaller fonts such as Garamond. It’s a double whammy; you’re saving the planet AND sparing your wallet at the same time! Side note: it’s also imperative to hold onto your electronics until you can donate or dispose of them properly. If not, throwing away electronic products puts people at risk for exposure to damaging toxins such as Mercury, Lead, and Cadmium. (Yikes). Companies such as Staples, Best Buy, and Salvation Army have electronic recycling programs that make it easy to discard your tech gadgets.
3. Choose reusable bags!
Next time you are at the grocery store, pharmacy, or even the shopping mall, bring your own bags instead of opting for paper or plastic. The cost of recycling disposable bags exceeds their value, so facilities typically won’t even take the time to recover them. Eventually, the bags end up in the landfill with everything else. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you will also be saving countless birds, turtles, and other adorable sea creatures that die from consuming plastic. Reducing your waste, in general, will have a considerable impact on preserving the environment. So, brainstorm beyond reusable bags! Here’s another idea: bring your own mug to your favorite coffee shop to avoid superfluous cups!
4. Conserve energy.
Preparing to move into a dorm requires organization. Luckily, starting habits that support our planet don’t take a whole lot of planning! Here are some ideal places to start: try switching to energy efficient light bulbs, unplugging adapters when they are not in use, turning off the lights when you leave the room, and taking shorter showers. Conserving this energy is not only cost-effective, but you are helping to diminish greenhouse gas emissions and lessen pollution.
5. Go thrifting and support better brands.
Purchasing second-hand clothing is beneficial for various reasons. First, used clothing is less likely to occupy space in a landfill. This is because the garment has to be reasonably durable to end up in your hands after surviving the first wearer. Second, you aren’t supporting the production and distribution of new clothes, which requires A LOT of energy. Just think about the distance new clothes travel and all the pollution the transportation alone would cause. Also, constructing synthetic materials results in toxic gases and chemicals. It’s a huge recipe for disaster. And third, you are putting your money towards a greater cause. Many organizations such as Goodwill and Salvation Army provide support to those that are unemployed, homeless, or disabled. You will sleep better at night knowing that you are indirectly aiding people in need rather than obliquely reinforcing Third World child labor and sweatshops.
6. Recycle what you can.
In order to minimize waste that has detrimental effects on the environment, recycling is a necessity. When trash lays untouched in a landfill, it creates chemicals and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Recycling also assists in decreasing the need for raw materials; thus, protecting our Earth from deforestation. Not to mention, we save energy when making products from recycled materials as opposed to raw materials. By preserving natural resources, we will be on our way to preserving our planet as we know it.
7. If possible, walk or bike.
By walking and biking, you reduce air pollution. To be more specific, carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) comes from the exhaust emitted by trucks and cars. Plus, you don’t need fuel to bike or walk! If driving is absolutely necessary, try carpooling or taking public transportation!
8. Sign up for a class about the environment!
Yep. Education, y’all. By gaining knowledge about environmental issues, you can translate all that information into beneficial environmental action that could save the world. Furthermore, many environmental classes involve going outside, breathing fresh air, and contributing time to nature whether it be volunteering at a state park, planting trees, or doing other types of service work. (Much better than being stuck in a stuffy classroom, am I right?)
If you are looking for even more inspiration to live a green lifestyle, check out Lauren Singer’s blog, Trash is for Tossers! Our planet is our home, and it is our duty to preserve it. There is power in aligning your values with your everyday actions, and living in harmony with nature has many benefits. You will save money, improve your health, gain knowledge in problem solving, and cultivate a healthier environment for generations to come. In order to achieve change, we all must lead by example.