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The Easiest Ways to Help the Environment

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hofstra chapter.

It is hard to keep from noticing that little bit of guilt that is felt whenever you throw a plastic bottle in the trash or use a plastic straw with your iced coffee. You want to save the earth, but how? You may be thinking that it’s not like one person alone can make an impact. It may be true that one person alone cannot completely alleviate all the environmental detriments on the earth, but one person can spark an impact and make a change that other people will follow. All it takes is for someone to begin advocating for a greener future and leading by example. How do you do that, you ask? Well, there is no better place to start than right here with learning the easiest ways to help the environment.

Reusable water bottles

Here is a mind-blowing fact: over one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute. One. Million. The worst part is that only nine percent of these bottles are being recycled (source: www.forbes.com). Let’s do some quick math here: there are 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day which means there are one 1,440 minutes in a day. Now we multiply 1,440 by 1,000,000 to get 1,440,000,000 plastic bottles per day. One billion four hundred and forty million bottles purchased per day on an international level. These numbers may seem scary and unreconcilable, but if we each begin using reusable bottles every day instead of purchasing disposable plastic ones, this number will begin to shrink. There are dozens of water fountains around Hofstra’s campus and in many public parks and buildings. By bringing your own bottle instead of purchasing one, you are saving yourself valuable money that you can save up to spend on things that make you happy! Plus, you will be saving the earth (and how can that not make you happy!). Reusable bottles come in the cutest designs and styles these days, so you are sure to find one that suits you perfectly. Now, saving the earth is a fashion statement! Bringing our own bottles can also help cut down on the astounding hundreds of millions of plastic straws thrown out every day that are also greatly hurting the environment. We can begin to make a change for a healthier future and a happier earth.  

Reusable Plastic Bags

The plastic bottle numbers are bad, but the plastic bag numbers are even worse. About two million plastic bags are used each minute, averaging out to one trillion bags per year (source: www.earthday.org). To put that number in perspective, the population of the earth is 7.66 billion so when you divide that by one trillion, you get about 131 bags per person. That means for every person on this earth there are 131 disposable bags being used. The good news is that the US is beginning to make changes to lower these numbers. Many states are thinking about or beginning to pass plastic bag bans which prohibits the use of single use disposable plastic bags for groceries and other merchandise. Numerous other states have also issued a 5-cent bag fee for each disposable bag needed with purchase. You can make a difference too! Bringing your own bags makes a huge impact, especially when you need multiple bags at a time for something like grocery shopping. These reusable bags are often larger than the disposable ones as well, which means you can use less of them and save more money. Reusable bags are very inexpensive on their own and the impact is more than worthwhile.  The earth can have 131 less disposable bags on it this year because of you!

Recycling Programs

We all have busy lives whether it is school, work, family, or a mixture of all of them. Because of this, the idea of recycling can often become overlooked and we may forget to toss our plastic and glass in the correct bin. To help solve the problem of recycling, companies such as Terracycle have been created. Terracycle incentivizes the idea of recycling by offering to send out free collection boxes for certain products such as makeup containers, toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes, laundry detergent bottles, snack bags, and more. In exchange for filling up the box to a certain weight and sending it in (with free shipping) you get points which you can use to spend in their eco friendly shop that has a variety of products from jewelry to school supplies. It is a free and easy way to make good use of your empty products, as Terracycle repurposes the products to make new things! Many cities and towns also have recycling programs where old electronics, appliances, and batteries, among other things, can be brought and disposed of properly in a way that will not harm the environment. It is important for us to join the efforts that are being made towards recycling and remembering to properly dispose of our plastic, glass, and styrofoam in our daily lives.

Less Light=Brighter Future

One more set of numbers (last one, promise): the estimated cost of wasted energy due to excessive lights (both in homes and on streets) is over 2 billion dollars, equating to about 12.9 million barrels of oil (source: futurism.com). How many times have you left a room and haven’t turned the light off, even though there is no one in there? We tend to be preoccupied with other tasks, forgetting to shut off the lights or even power down appliances in the midst of our daily routines. As a result, the earth is suffering, and fossil fuels are being rapidly consumed. The way can fix this one is as simple as shutting the light off when you leave the room or even having no lights on when the room is bright. Once again, you will end up saving money by cutting down on light consumption (beginning to notice a nice money-saving trend here) and help eliminate light pollution altogether. One of the best ways to greatly cut down on your light consumption is by installing solar panels and although they are a pretty big investment, they actually end up paying for themselves within a few years. They harness the biggest source of energy we have, the sun, and help make your home even greener.

Carpooling, Mass Transit, and Walking

We all love the luxury of having a car or calling a car service to go places, whether it is somewhere super close or many miles away. We tend to get in our cars without a second thought and it isn’t until we are standing next to our car pumping multiple Benjamins worth of gas questioning how our tank became empty so quick that we realize just how much we drive. Our solution? Carpool, mass transit, and the most fossil fuel saving of them all: walking (plus you get that step count up!). Carpooling can be a fun way to spend time with your friends, road trip style, and everyone can pitch in for gas to alleviate the cost for the driver. This way, you can potentially get five single riders into one car, amusement park-style, saving lots of fuel and money for everyone involved! Although mass transit may not be the most convenient way to travel, it is very fuel effective and, in some cases, can be the fastest way of travel (especially when you are on a train in rush hour)! There aren’t enough good things to say about walking. It uses no fossil fuels, counts as exercise, burns calories, and provides nice scenic views along the way to your destination. If you are able to, walking is definitely the best way to go, but any of the above-mentioned ways of transit can help make a happier Earth!

These may seem like menial ways of change with seemingly very little impact on Earth. However, any of these changes are good changes and will, in fact, make a difference! If you start making changes, others will follow, and you can help ignite a movement for a greater future! We can make a greener Earth and it can start right here and right now!

Emily Hughes

Hofstra '22

Emily is a freshman civil engineering major with a double minor in mathematics and sustainability studies. She is also the Pinterest editor for Her Campus Hofstra. Some of her passions in life include spontaneous adventures in New York City and ice cream.