On Monday, April 22, the world celebrated the place we all call home. Earth Day is the largest environmental movement and has been thriving since the 1970s. “Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page,” explains Earth Day Network.
If you aren’t very sure of what Earth Day is, it’s a day where people hold events and challenges to make positive impacts on the environment and encourage positive environmental policy changes. ABC News says that more than one billion people in 192 countries are estimated to participate in Earth Day activities each year. If you attend college, you may think that there’s little you can do to contribute to saving our planet. However, that’s not the case. You absolutely can make a difference! And here are 14 ways you can do just that.
“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big not realizing that life’s made up of little things” —Frank A. Clark
Eight small actions that impact the world
1. Pack your lunch instead of wasting campus food
According to The Breeze, “College campus dining leads to 22 million pounds of food waste yearly. Dining facilities can’t always accurately predict the amount of food students will consume, leading to large amounts of waste daily.”
2. Skip the straw when going out to bars
“It’s estimated that we use over 500 million [straws] every day in America, and most of those end up in our oceans, polluting the water and killing marine life,” stated by Strawless Ocean.
3. Unplug electronics and turn off dorm lights
Green is Universal states, “If we all turn off 2 lights in our homes for an hour, everyday we’ll save more than 5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity nationwide, each year.”
4. Walk to class instead of driving
The UCSUSA says, “Collectively, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all US emissions, emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases for every gallon of gas.”
5. Read articles/books on climate change
Educate yourself in order to educate others!
6. Conserve water
Shorten your showers, report campus leaks, and avoid dining hall trays. “We use about 27% of water for bathing and toilet use. Approximately, a leaking faucet can waste 4,000 drops of water, which is equal to a litre of water. A flush of the toilet uses six and a half gallons of water,” according to Water Purifiers Experts.
7. Make laundry eco-friendly
Use cold water, hang dry clothes, wait until your basket is absolutely full, and wash clothes with roommates.
8. Use reusable bottles/coffee mugs
“Americans throw away 50 billion paper cups every year, which equals 800 million pounds of waste and 12.5 million pounds of CO2 emissions. The situation grows dire when you take into account the polystyrene cups and lids, which are not recyclable or biodegradable, and that this type of plastic is a likely carcinogen,” explains We Hate to Waste.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”~ Margaret Mead
Two medium-sized projects that protect the planet
1. Join a club dedicated to the environment
Plant trees, help care for a garden, do campus clean ups, and reach out to classmates about the environment and how they can contribute too! Affordable College explains that with thirteen solar arrays, over 20 LEED-certified buildings, and research into sustainability ongoing in over 90% of Colorado State University’s departments, it evident being green is a way of life on campus. “CSU students are following suit – 86% say that sustainability matters to them, and 80% “ride the talk” by registering bikes as their campus transportation.”
2. Use social media to educate and inform
Use the power of the Internet to let others know about Earth Day! This year’s theme is “Protect Our Species,” so share with everyone you follow how they can help.
“In nature, nothing exists alone.”~ Rachel Carson
Five HUGE changes you can make to help wildlife
1. Eat less meat
Cut down on eating burgers, chicken, and fish. According to The Guardian, “While meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Take a stand!
Join a march, vote for people that advocate for environmental protection policies, make a gift or monthly pledge, sign petitions, sponsor for organizations that help wildlife, and spread the word on climate change!
3. Support sustainability
Purchase sustainable foods and plant products. Keep an eye out for the label! Purchase energy efficient technology and watch your waste habits. You can even grow your own garden to lessen pesticide use!
Sterling College Students Prep Seed Potatoes For Planting While A Class Prepares A Hugelkulture Bed, A Permaculture Technique For Making A Raised Bed (Background) | Courtesy Of Sterling College
4. Take accountability when vacationing
Make sure to watch where you step and pick up your trash when you’re at the beach. Wherever you travel take responsibility of your actions, as well as the others joining you.