Photo: “Welcome to Reality” by Rey Perezoso via Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The escalation of plastic pollution and global warming are major concerns to the health and sustainability of our planet. Many are now more aware than ever and their concern leads to taking steps towards alleviating this issue. The first step is awareness which eventually leads to change. It can be overwhelming to figure out the best changes to be more environmentally friendly and sustain a healthy environment. However, if you are a college student you can simply start on campus. There are many ways that researchers have recommended to be more environmentally friendly that I have implemented and I hope you can learn from them too.
1. Reduce plastic waste
An easy way to do this is to purchase less plastic products or to be more aware of how many plastic products you are using or purchasing. As mentioned in a Daily Local News featured article, the West Chester Borough Council has recently voted on a ban on single-use plastic items effective this January. This shows that the borough is aware of this issue and taking steps towards improving on it. You should be too. There are many alternative products to plastic products that are more environmentally friendly and more sustainable to use long-term. For example, metal straws and reusable items such as reusable water bottles and grocery bags. It is important to do this due to the massive amounts of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans that is harming and polluting the oceans and species living in it.
According to Home Water Works, using an average of 2.5 gallons per minute from the typical shower head and reducing your shower length by four minutes per day would save 3,650 gallons per year.
2. Rethink water usage
One type of waste that not some people overlook is their water usage. According to Home Water Works, using an average of 2.5 gallons per minute from using a typical shower head and reducing your shower length by four minutes per day would save 3,650 gallons per year. Reducing your water usage saves water and your water bill too! Another way to do this is by being aware while you brush your teeth that you are not leaving the water running. The World Wildlife website page on threats warns that, “by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. And ecosystems around the world will suffer even more.”
3. Power down
Many of us are guilty of leaving the lights on in our room or forgetting to power down our devices. However, it can be an electricity bill saver and an energy saver. US News reports that a U.S. company with 10,000 PCs will waste $260,000 in energy throughout the year due to computers that are powered up when no one is using them. It is one of the easiest ways to save your devices from overheating and wearing out.
4. Recycle Correctly
Don’t be an aspirational recycler by tossing items in the recycling bin and hoping they will be recycled. Items such as pizza boxes, plastic bags and coffee cups are not as recyclable as you may think. The New York Times’ “6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong” article, which I recommend you read, says that, “Too many of these items will contaminate a batch of recycling. That means waste managers might not be able to find buyers for the materials — especially now that China, one of the world’s main importers of recyclable waste, has said it will reject shipments that are more than 0.5% impure.” These contaminated items end up in landfills. The correct way to recycle items like coffee cups is to take the advice given in the article, “It’s best to throw it away. You can also check if your local recycler has special equipment to handle coffee cups; some do,” a Starbucks spokeswoman said. The New York City Department of Sanitation says it accepts “paper cups with non-paper lining.”
5. Walk More
Parking is tricky on campus, and if you have the choice, it is better for the environment for you to walk. An article on the Healthiest State Initiative website, “The Economic & Environmental Benefits of Walking And Walkable Communities,” reports that “motor vehicles create a substantial amount of air pollution and are responsible for nearly 80% of carbon monoxide and 55% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the U.S.” Walking is a great way to get healthier by incorporating exercise in your day, reducing air pollution in our environment and it can also help you save money on gas and car expenses.
Sara Mahgoub is a third-year student majoring in early grades preparation and minoring in journalism. SM863178@wcupa.edu