When I hear about environmental concerns, they feel like the type of issuess that are either someone else’s problem or too big to do anything about.
I’ve spent my life just recycling bottles, cans and cardboard, without thinking about much else. Global warming always hits me as the sort of thing that only big groups or large companies can “fix” if they’re forced into it, if anything can truly be done when we’re in this deep.
That doesn’t mean I hate nature; I adore flowers and want to garden this summer. It’s just always seemed like too much effort and time to help more than the usual mantra of “reduce, reuse and recycle” that has been embedded in children by adults that don’t really help out Mother Earth either.
The world, for all intents and purposes, is in ruins. We’re college kids that feel powerless in this situation. The sea levels are slowly rising, and if all the countries follow through with their promises, the world will heat up by six and a third degrees on average by 2025 – terrifying stuff.
There are a few things we can do from an apartment or dorm to help out that fit into those busy adult schedules that drive us up the wall. I know I’d rather be playing video games than putting in effort.
There are several ways to earn or save money while helping our wonderful planet. These are listed first because they tend to be the most appealing options.
Most phones end up dumped into landfills when we upgrade to new ones. Not only is that harmful, since they take forever to decompose because they’re made of plastic and metal, but it’s a waste of money. The company ecoATM has a location right in Exton Square and a website that will locate kiosks near a hometown during school breaks. An iPhone 5 from AT&T can be traded in for up to $45, and they accept plenty of different phones.
Stop buying bottled water. It’s easy to just get one plastic bottle of water for a onetime price and then use those strange EZH20 water fountains we have all over campus, or tap water from home.
According to Pennsylvania American Water, our state reports come back 99 percent positive overall. Bottled water is about $2, and most people buy one a day. That’s about $730 of savings per year.
As college students, we all have bank accounts to worry about. Switch to online banking statements and save $1 depending on where you bank or your bank will make a donation.
Speaking of, paying bills online can save 18.5 million trees, 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide and 1.7 billion pounds of waste per year if every household in the U.S. went through with it, according to 50waystohelp.com.
Rechargeable batteries require a little upfront payment, but in the long run, if you don’t lose them, they’re amazing. No more buying expensive little batteries any time something dies, and less dead batteries taking up landfills; just a one-time purchase and a tiny bit of electric bill strain — not that students living in dorms or on-campus apartments have to directly pay for electricity.
The next few items don’t have quite as much monetary value, but they’re really easy and quick to do, so why not? I won’t police anyone and say that these are absolute musts, but they’re worth a shot if they fit in with your life.
I’m the last person that would ever bring up going vegan. It’s expensive; it’s too much effort making that big of a diet change, and I love eating meat! Instead, try cutting down on red meats such as beef and lamb. They create five times the climate-ruining emissions compared to chicken and pork and use 11 times the water, according to Dr. Gidon Eshel’s study on meat’s effects on the environment. Maybe start with only having red meats once every week or two, depending on comfort level.
Chicken is common in West Chester, so cutting that out and still finding decent food would be difficult.
Join one of the environment-related clubs on campus. We’ve got a ton; for example, WCU E.A.R.T.H has an active Facebook group and is always planning events (like caving) and volunteer-related activities, which look pretty nice on a resume. It’s an obvious choice while giving some helpful options, and the meetings that I’ve been to have weekly challenges.
Basically, the students in charge come up with a weekly challenge to help us reduce our environmental impact, and if you complete it, there’s a prize to be won. Meetings are every Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m. in Main Hall 402.
Even if you can’t make it to these meetings, you can still do your part by turning off your computers at night, not counting the cell phone – that would be way too difficult for me, and I refuse to be hypocritical. It saves energy on recharging and allows your computer to have a break and do updates when it shuts off or boots up.
You can also make a difference by turning off the lights when you’re not in a room. My roommates struggle with this at all times for some strange reason.
Sure, electric bills don’t affect most of us just yet, but it definitely puts a strain on Mother Earth. Plus, getting into the habit now will help when we finally have to sit down and deal with electric bills.
These are just some simple ways to help out. It’s not a comprehensive list and none of them will fix it all, but we’re only human and the world will always seem to produce more garbage than we can “make up” for. Still, it’s better than sitting around and wishing the problem away or feeling cynical and nasty about how wrecked it all is.
Alex DiPeri is a second-year student majoring in English with a minor in Japanese. Contact them at AD831966@wcupa.edu