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How to Practice Earth Day Every Day as a UMass Student

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

With Earth Day around the corner, I always find myself reflecting more on my sustainability practices and what I am doing to reduce my footprint. Although there are a lot of factors that contribute to our current climate crisis, some of which are out of our hands (such as a major corporations carbon output or a celebrity’s private jet usage), there are definitely still ways we can nurture our Earth as students. I am always looking for new ways to be more sustainable, and there are some great initiatives already in place at UMass. The following list includes some easy ways I have found to be sustainable on campus so you too can practice Earth day every day.

autumn leaves on a dirt road
Natalie Szewczyk
get 25 cents off for bringing your reusable cup to a umass cafe

At participating cafes on campus, you can receive 25 cents off of your coffee, tea, or anything in between by bringing your own reusable cup/mug. Although 25 cents may not seem like a lot, that’s not the point; you probably go through so much plastic without realizing it. A medium coffee cup is about 0.02 lbs. of plastic, give or take. I usually order a medium iced chai twice a week. Assuming I order two cups every week, for the 15 weeks of the semester, for two semesters, that is 1.2 lbs. of plastic from my coffee consumption on campus alone (and this doesn’t include the lid and straw!). If you aren’t an avid chai enthusiast like me, you still may be contributing more than you realize. Once I get a reusable coffee cup I fully plan on trying this out!

check the umass dining foods for their carbon “foodprint” rating

Carbon literacy is defined as an awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organizational basis. To bring more carbon literacy to its students, UMass Amherst has partnered with My Emissions to calculate the carbon footprint of all meals. The label system works on a scale from A, which means low carbon impact, to E, which means high carbon impact. This label can be found on the paper slips they place in front of food in the dining hall or under the healthfulness score of a food on the UMass Dining app. If you’re looking for ways to lower your footprint, eating foods with a better Carbon Foodprint Rating is definitely the way to go!

browse the student farmers market

When Spring comes around, I try to go to the student farmers market every Friday. It is so awesome to see student artists and local sustainable initiatives. One of my all time favorite purchases has come from the student farmers market, specifically from @annasgreenthreds. Anna makes upcycled, sustainable UMass gear that is definitely worth checking out. There are other groups that are regulars at the farmers market as well, such as UMass Permaculture. One time there was even a smoothie bike where you could pedal to blend your smoothie! The next farmers market will be on April 21st on the Goodell Lawn from 12-4 p.m. If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to be more sustainable, definitely give it a try.

take the time to recycle in your dorm correctly

Although it can be inconvenient, one of the best ways to be sustainable is to take the time to recycle correctly. In your dorm or apartment, there should be a sign on what to recycle and what not to recycle. It is important to make sure you aren’t recycling things like plastic bags, solo cups, liquids, milk cartons, and others which can be found here. Contaminants make it so that less materials get recycled, even some that would otherwise. By taking the time to recycle correctly, you can have a positive impact on the environment and keep trash out of landfills!

Choose to take the pvta bus instead of driving

According to the EPA, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. If each person decides to take their own car over carpooling or taking the bus, this can lead to a huge carbon footprint. Although we as students cannot change the car-dependent infrastructure of Western Mass, we can opt to take public transportation to have a cleaner impact on the world around us. The PVTA bus is a great option that goes to a multitude of places, such as the Hadley Target, the other schools in the Five College Consortium, Springfield, and more; not to mention it is 100% free for UMass students to take. There are also Peter Pan buses available for low prices that go to places such as New York City and that pick you up from Haigis Mall. In general, if public transportation is available where you live, it is a great choice for anyone looking to lower their carbon footprint!

Although it may seem overwhelming, there are definitely ways to reduce your carbon footprint while living away from home. It is so important to treat the Earth as well as it treats us. In a world of growing climate anxiety, these are just some of the ways you can participate in sustainability initiatives without taking too much time out of your day as a busy student. Get out there and be sustainable, UMass!

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Megan Allen

U Mass Amherst '25

Megan is a junior at UMass Amherst, double majoring in Community Education & Social Change and Psychology. Outside of writing, Megan enjoys reading, taking a fitness class, and drinking an iced chai with oat milk. She is so excited to be a part of Her Campus this semester!