Students are constantly learning how they can make a difference in the world.
There are classes and clubs focused on various social issues, and these places teach students how they can change these issues. One popular cause that has been popular in recent years is the helping the environment and preserving our resources.
There are several ways that you – yes, YOU- can help protect this planet we call Earth.
What you do makes a difference! Need proof? Calculate your environmental footprint to see how much impact just one person has one the world’s resources, and adjust accordingly.
1. Use Reusable Bags Plastic grocery-type bags that get thrown out end up in landfills or in other parts of the environment. These can suffocate animals who get stuck in them or may mistake them for food. Also, it takes a while for the bags to decompose.
Whether you are shopping for food, clothes or books, use a reusable bag. This cuts down on litter and prevents animals from getting a hold of them. There are even some stores (such as Target) that offer discounts for using reusable bags!
These bags are useful for things other than shopping as well. I have heard of people using reusable bags when they move!
If you forget your bags at home, buy a new one. Better yet, keep a couple bags in your car so you never leave home without them (just make sure you remember you put them there)!
If you are in a position where you need to use the plastic bags, reuse them the next time you go shopping, or use them for something else. Just do not be so quick to throw them out!
There are some states that are outlawing or charging extra for using plastic bags. Using reusable bags helps the environment AND your budget!
2. Print as Little as Necessary We have all had that teacher that wanted us to have a copy of every single reading when we come to class, or that professor who wanted a hard copy of the ten-page paper that is due next week. These are fine but it seems as if they do not understand that using so much paper is detrimental to the environment.
What can you do? Ask your teacher if you can bring a laptop or an e-reader to class so that you can download the reading onto that and read it from there. If not, print on both sides of the page to reduce the amount of paper used.
If you need to turn in a long paper, ask the professor if it is okay to print on both sides of the page and explain why you’re asking. Most teachers care about the environment as well and would be willing to allow you to do so.
3. Recycle Recycling is such a simple thing to do, but so many people don’t do it. Many garbage disposal companies offer recycling services, so check with the company you use to see if they can help you get started! It is as simple as getting a bin and putting it out with your trash cans for free!
Also, check with your RA to see if recycling options are offered in your dorm.
Another way to recycle is to look for recycling cans near trashcans. Instead of throwing recyclables in the trash with your non-recyclables, make a point to take an extra step to locate recycling cans around your campus.
4. Use a Reusable Beverage Containers Instead of buying individually-packaged drinks, consider buying a bulk container of the beverage you want and buying a reusable water bottle. Not only will this help the environment, but it will also help you save money since you are buying a bulk container.
Many campuses offer water fountains designed for drinking as well as for refilling reusable water bottles. Make use of these fountains throughout the day when you finish off the initial beverage.
Along these lines, many restaurants offer reusable containers for drinks. If you go to a certain place a lot, consider buying one of these containers to help minimize waste.
A lot of coffee shops even offer a discount to customers who use a reusable container for their drinks. Starbucks, as an example, offers a small discount for customers who do this. Saving the environment and money? Win-win.
5. Don’t Throw Your Notes Away At the end of the semester, students are often stuck with notes they don’t need anymore, especially from GenEd classes that had little, if anything, to do with their major.
The good news is that teachers that teach GenEd classes have to keep their material consistent with guidelines from the college/university. This means that students next semester will be learning basically the same material you learned from a class.
If you took great notes, ask your teacher to connect you with students in a future class so that you can give them your notes. These notes will help students by being able to read what they are learning in the words of another student. It is beneficial to read things that are worded differently than what the teacher said. You may need to find a student on your own, depending on the teacher’s load for the semester.
It will feel great to help others taking the same class! You can list your notes on online college boards. While some may be willing to buy the notes at a price, it will feel just as good giving them your notes for free since you are helping them out!
Also, other student organizations may appreciate notes. At the community college I attended, the Veteran’s Club had a separate building for resources. They had an area for textbooks used by students, and they could check the books out for a semester, and many people would bundle notes in with the books. Ask around to see if any organization has something like this.
If you can’t find anyone to give the notes to, at the very least, recycle the paper you used.
6. Save Electricity! Use energy-efficient light bulbs instead of regular bulbs. They last longer, which will save you a bit of money (every little bit helps on a college budget, right?).
Make you turn off lights, the TV, and other appliances when you are not using them.
Lower your air conditioning or heat when it’s not necessary. This is especially true for between seasons. Open your windows in the early fall or layering your clothes in the early fall.
7. Save Water Water is wasted more frequently than we can see. Turn off the faucet as you are brushing your teeth. Don’t turn your shower on until you’re ready to get in and wash your hair. Limit your water usage as you wash dishes. Changing old habits will be good for both the environment and your wallet!
8. Avoid Taking Cars or Carpool When Possible Cars are harmful to the environment. Taking public transportation, walking, or riding a bike to class are better options that help the environment and your budget, as well as getting some exercise in!
If you do need to use your car, compare schedules and places of residency with those in your classes. You can split the cost of gas and have alternating schedules for who drives when. This is cheaper than everyone driving separately and you’ll be closer with friends!
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Recycle, recycle, recycle. Some cities already require people to sort their trash into paper, metals, glass, and organic waste. Even if your city doesn't, you can launch a growing trend. Set up four separate waste baskets, and make sure the contents end up in the appropriate recycle bins.
Avoid rinsing before using the dishwasher. If you skip rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you can save gallons of water. You can also save time -The time it takes for the water to heat up, and the energy it consumes.
Use cold water for the washer, and only wash clothes when you have a full load. Instead of using hot water all the time, use cold water. In fact, use cold water at any available opportunity. It saves a ton of energy.
Air dry your dishes. Stop the dishwasher before the dryer cycle commences. Leave the door slightly ajar (or more open if you have the space) and let the dishes air-dry. The drying cycle of the dishwasher consumes a lot of energy.
Avoid Creating Trash. Avoid disposable products, such as plates, cups, napkins and cutlery. Use reusable towels and dishwashing cloths in place of paper towels and disposable dish sponges.
Update your refrigerator. Fridges are the most energy intensive appliance in a house. This means that a poorly maintained and energy inefficient fridge is costing you money, let alone adding its burden to the atmosphere. Recent fridges use 40% less energy than fridges of 10 years ago. If you do decide to upgrade the fridge, make sure that you buy for its excellent energy rating, longevity and durability and that you have the old fridge recycled.