For the past decade, green has been the new black, and for many students, the act of going green seems more like a fad than something that is actually productive. So what is all the hoopla about going green? After all, environmentally the world seems to be doing just fine. Grass is still growing, the sky is still blue and the sun still shines. So, what’s the problem?
In order for you to get a good grip of the situation we are environmentally in let me toss some facts at you from WebEcoist.com:
-Every day in the U.S., we produce enough trash to equal the weight of the Empire State Building.
-Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, two barrels of oil, 4,100 kilowatts of energy, 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space and 60 pounds of air pollution.
-The human population on Earth has grown more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous four million years.
-Average temperatures will increase by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current pace.
To summarize these four facts for you: We are in deep horse manure if we don’t all start making a change. Can you imagine a world without blue skies because there is so much pollution? How about a world that is filled with more trash than grass? Or would you want your children to never know what winter is because temperatures are rising so drastically quick? A change has to be made, and we all need to do it together.
1. Go Trayless
If your cafeteria uses lunch trays to carry your plates, cups and utensils that tray is an extra item to wash, obviously using more soap and more water. More importantly, using a tray lets you use and eat more food. By sticking to an average size plate you will have to be more selective with your food choices and will be forced to eat only what you can carry. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The U.S. generates more than 34 million tons of food waste each year, which makes it the largest component filling landfills today.
2. Reusable water bottles
While plastic bottles are now made with “30 percent less plastic” they are still made of plastic and are still an item that can’t be reused everyday. The lifespan of a reusable metal or plastic water bottle is years. Being in college you are out all day at classes, sports, meetings, etc. and staying hydrated is important. Get yourself a nice water bottle for $20 instead of buying cases of water each week. It’s not only sustainable but cheaper!
3. Walk or ride
Most campuses are designed to be walkable and if you live in a bigger college town, then riding your bike is a great option. According to National Geographic, “Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is the main pollutant that is warming Earth.” Your car emits CO2 when you drive, which seeps into the atmosphere and creates warming. Carpooling, riding and walking are all great options for reducing your carbon footprint and keeping the Earth cooler.
4. Ditch the plastic bags
Most grocery stores are now charging pennies for plastic bags that you use at checkout and instead offer a small discount for using reusable bags. Save money, save plastics and get a tote bag. They are sturdier, cheap to buy and bigger to hold all your things.
My personal favorite way to be sustainable is going to thrift stores. Shopping at consignment, thrift and secondhand stores not only offers a great way to reuse, but it also saves serious bucks. According to Earth911.com “Americans still throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year.” That is a crazy amount of clothes to toss away. Donate your old things and find others tossed treasures. Everything from jeans to jackets are typically in good condition and the prices are usually under $15.
While this may be the most obvious way to save the environment, you would be surprised by the high number of people who still don’t take advantage of it. According to TreeHugger.com, about 25 percent of Americans don’t recycle. Don’t put yourself in that statistic.
7. Use Blackle
Many of you don’t know that there is an eco-friendly alternative to using Google. Blackle.com is a site that looks just like Google, even powered by it, but has a black background. Using a black background is more energy efficient and by using blackle.com for your primary search engine can save up to 750 Megawatt-hours per year.
8. Meatless Mondays
College is about experiences and challenges. I challenge you to expand your food and go meatless on Mondays! By cutting out meat one day a week you help fight diabetes, curb obesity and reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. The meat industry produces nearly one-fifth of all greenhouse gases, cutting down on the demand for meat reduces those same gases. It is easier then you think and you can even sign a pledge at MeatlessMonday.com.
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