March 23 2016

5 Ways to be Green in College


photo by Rostislav Kralik (publicdomainphotos.net)

You’ve heard the terms “go green” or “environmentally-friendly” preached by teachers and the media since grade school, but is living by these terms really as easy as people claim it to be? If you’re living at school, it just doesn’t seem convenient; you can’t build a windmill in your school’s front yard or make
a solar panel appear on the school’s roof.

However, there are little things you can do at school that have a bigger impact than you think. Here are some tips to be that “go green” advocate that our planet needs:

  1. Stop using plastic lids and straws with take-out cups
    Whenever we get soda cups, it is second nature for us to grab a plastic lid and straw from the dispenser. According to One Green Planet writer Kate Good, 500 million straws and lids are used in the United States every day, and there’s an understandable reason for it: it makes carrying drinks convenient and takes the worry out of spilling. However, these straws and lids are rarely recycled. Most find their ways into oceans, putting marine life that accidently ingest these plastics in danger. Even out of the oceans, these plastics rack up a concerning statistic: in a landfill, it takes 400 to 1,000 years to degrade. Yep, you heard that right. Not in dog years, or cat years, or light years, but in fact 400 to 1,000 normal human years.
  2. Use reusable bags when grocery shopping
    The efforts of encouraging people to bring their own cloth reusable bags has increased over the years; however, most grocery stores still offer plastic bags even with the notoriety of plastic bags hanging over customers’ heads. According to data from the Ocean Conservancy’s Annual International Coastal Cleanups, plastic bags are consistently in the top 10 pieces of trash collected on beaches around the world. Even when they find their way to their “proper” place, aka a landfill, a single plastic bag can take 500 years or more to degrade, according to ScienceLearn.org. Be the bigger person next time you’re shopping for the week’s groceries, and decline the use of those wasteful plastic bags. Chances are your reusable bags are way cuter anyway.
  3. Take notes on a computer instead of on paper
    Over the years, professors in classes have allowed more students to bring laptops to class for taking notes during lecture. It is known that deforestation is one of the main environmental problems we’re currently facing, and 42 percent of all global wood harvest is used to make paper, according to The Environmental Paper Network. This reason alone is enough incentive to take notes electronically; however, if you are a student who feels taking notes by hand with a pencil and paper is more beneficial, be sure to recycle those notes once you’re finished using them. Recycling 1 ton of paper can not only save around 17 trees, but also 682.5 gallons of oil and 26,500 liters of water.
  4. Stop using disposable plastic razors
    Despite common beliefs, plastic razors actually aren’t recyclable. As a result, two billion razors end up being dumped into landfills every year, according to OneGreenPlanet.org. If you are someone who consistently uses these plastic fiends, try to find a stainless steel razor that has replaceable blades instead. The old blades are the part of the razor that is actually recyclable. Plus, a steel razor with replaceable blades will last longer than a plastic disposable razor. That’s a win-win.
  5. Cut down your shower time
    There’s nothing better than taking a hot shower to release stress; however, that stress-relieving shower is actually stress-inducing in the field of water conservation. One minute in a shower uses about 2.1 gallons of water, according to homewaterworks.org. Showers are one of the top sources of water usage, after washing machines and toilets. It is recommended that your shower doesn’t last more than six minutes, and you can do this by using that music you listen to while showering to your benefit. Allow yourself to be in the shower for no longer than two 2-3 minute songs. Your jams don’t have to end when your shower ends, though. You can keep on jamming along while you dry off, too.

The smallest of actions can have the biggest results in bigger places, and I encourage you to motivate yourself to enforce at least one of these tips into your daily schedule this week.

Happy Go Greening everyone!

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