Yes, College Students Can Help The Environment

There are many people that don’t think they have an impact on the environment. These types of people probably don’t recycle, since they don’t think that one person is going to make a difference. The rest of us know that isn’t true. Every single person can make a change to benefit the environment. College students are living a busy and inconsistent lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our part. I know we don’t have much control over our environmental habits since we are constantly adjusting to the fast pace of college, so here are some different ways you can live in a beneficial way.

1. Recycle

The first might be obvious: try your best to recycle. Recycling is one of the more popular ways to go green, so even if you don’t live on campus there are resources to encourage recycling. Athens has their own recycling website, so for those who live off campus, I recommend taking a look to see what you can do to implement recycling for your house or apartment. I know those beer cans and solo cups crowd your countertops, decide to recycle them instead of tossing them in the trash. For students who live on campus, the recycling bins and multiple flyers around campus show what you can recycle. I know it can be a chore, but the sea turtles beg that you take the time to rinse out cans instead of just throwing them in the trash.  

2. Think before you drive your car.

Campuses are pedestrian friendly. If there was ever a time to not spend money on gas, now would be that time. Our campus is not so big that you need a car to get from one class to the next. If you live too far off campus for walking, maybe consider riding a bike and saving your car for weekend trips home. This doesn’t mean you have to sell your car or let it sit in the driveway all semester, but there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Carpool with friends when they make a trip to Walmart, walk around the corner to CVS instead of driving your car, and there is always the option of public transportation. Everyone knows that fewer cars mean less pollution, so think about what you can do to decrease your footprint every time you reach for your keys.

3. Shop Green

A great tip for college students is to buy green. Often times buying green is not only beneficial for the environment but is also great for your wallet and the local economy. Ohio University provided students with a reusable grocery bag to use at the markets. If you lost it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to purchase another because you get a discount every time you bring it to the markets. Many stores sell reusable bags to save on plastic and they are priced cheaply. Like going to the market, it is beneficial to buy local food. It helps the local economy and reduces emissions used to ship food. Finally, you can go thrift shopping! No need to buy something brand new, which can encourage factories to use more resources, when a gently used article of clothing or furniture will work just fine. You don’t need to live the shiny and careless name brand lifestyle, it will keep our world shiny if you too go green.

4. Wash your dishes

Another one, especially for students in dorms, is washing your dishes!  Apartments and houses likely have larger kitchens sinks or even dishwashers that make washing dishes easier, dorms don’t have that luxury. Once again, I am aware it can be a chore, but just think of how much waste you are saving when you reuse. I don’t even let myself purchase things like water bottles or plastic utensils. I know it is tempting to use paper plates and buy packs of water bottles but think about the unnecessary resources you end up throwing away.

One easy change you can implement is buying reusable waters products. A pack of water at the market might be $10.00, a Brita is $19.99 plus $14.99 for over half a year of filters at Target, and reusable water bottles having many price options. After four weeks of buying your packs of water, you have outspent the price of a Brita and filters, not to mention the real price of the amount of plastic you ended up throwing out. The way we package our products is not sustainable and is known for destroying the environment, trying something as simple as a reusable water bottle will benefit the environment immensely.

5. Reuse and Reduce Paper    

A massive change in college students can make is the amount of paper they use. Never, I’ll repeat: NEVER, buy a new textbook unless you really need to. I promise the few highlighted sentences is not going to bother you. Buying a used book means one less book they have to print, saving upwards of 200 pages of paper. A bonus is that you’ll save money by buying used books.

Another big one is how we take notes in class. If you use your computer to take notes, then you’re already on the right track. If you don’t, it might be a good idea to start using your laptop or using refillable binders, both options save on paper. There also many opportunities to use the back of papers or scrap paper, recycling paper, and double checking work so you don’t have to reprint if there is a mistake. Luckily our improvements in technology have decreased the need for paper, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do more to reduce paper use.

6. Meatless Monday

This can be a controversial change, but it would be beneficial nonetheless. It is a known fact that livestock can cause the same amount of emissions that cars do. I understand that not everyone agrees with becoming a vegetarian or vegan, but having one day to decrease the amount of meat purchased and consumed can help students and the environment. There is a campaign that includes over 150 colleges to reduce global meat consumption by 15%. Having one day not consuming meat can reduce water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and the use of fossil fuels.

7. Put a Price On It

There is a cost to carbon emissions and using resources. It can be hard to see and understand, so that’s why putting a price on carbon can be helpful. This may seem daunting and even ridiculous, but it is a new movement to discourage the use of fossil fuels. Right now, keeping the methods we have been using would be easy, but it is horrible for the environment. Laws and regulations have only done so much in reducing the use of natural resources, but more needs to be done. Pricing carbon can force us to adapt and invent new ways to power our cars and produce our products. It will be hard and might disrupt our economy, but we will be able to bounce back from that sooner than you might think. The earth is already past the point of reversing the damage, so we must do what we can to prevent more damage.  

8. “We Are Still In”

Ohio University is part of the movement to contribute to climate action. After Donald Trump removed the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, many cities, schools, and businesses decided that they still wanted to be part of the Paris Agreement. For those that don’t know, the Paris Agreement was a “global agreement to safeguard the future of our planet” (I Heart Climate Scientists). Even though Donald Trump didn’t want to be a part of this change, Ohio University is a part of the change in transitioning to a clean energy economy.  

I am sure we all pay attention to the news and have seen the 12-year mark put on climate change. I decided to write this article since the news came out just this week.  While we might not be the ones that can implement new laws or invent new technology, we can still do our part. Every single person has an impact on the environment and it is our job to make sure that impact is a positive one.