Going Green

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Sarah Kaehler

File Under: green, sustainable

In this new millennium, “going green” has become popular amongst companies, universities, communities and individuals. However, as of 2009, the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management: The Road Ahead reported that the amount of rain forests and tropical forests have decreased by half, over 80% energy used by the world comes from coal, oil or gas, and in the past fifty years human beings used more resources than ever before, historically speaking. Less than five years later, you can only imagine the damage we are facing now.

You may be thinking, I’m just one person, and most likely you are a college student who cannot afford a smart car or anything like that. But there is a multitude of ways you can help save the earth with small lifestyle changes that definitely add up. Here are some facts and tips for helping keep your planet in the best shape you possibly can:

  • Thrifting: Macklemore made it popular in his hit song “Thrift Shop,” but going to a thrift store is a fantastic way to help reduce pollution from factories generating new clothes. At thrift stores you can create a totally unique look for a fraction of the cost AND help out Mother Earth. Studies have found that the Council for Textile Recycling collects 2.5 billion pounds of recyclable textile material that almost ends up in a regular landfill. Imagine that entire product, sitting, taking up space when it could be re-worn. Not sure shopping at a thrift store is your scene? You can still donate any old clothes you may have wedged under your bed or shoved into the depths of your closet.
  • Paperless Options: Many teachers are opting for online textbooks or scanning documents onto Blackboard instead of distributing them to the entire class. This is a great thing since many books are only used for a few sections and many handouts get tossed after the assignment is completed. However, as a student, you can go paperless too. You probably have a credit or debit card and receive a statement in the mail, right? Well, you can decide to receive emails instead, which will save a great deal of paper and therefore a great deal of trees. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has found that if we conserved all our paper products used in America within a year 50 million homes could be heated for almost twenty years. Think you don’t use that much paper? The average person uses more than a ton. So, be sure to think before you print and save your bank statements for your inbox.
  • Flip the Switch: Instead of using every individual outlet in your room, condense it into as many power strips as possible. Not only is this more convenient, but as Bill Lonneman, the chair of the Mount’s Environmental Action Committee, informed me, there is a switch you can flick to turn the circuit off entirely. Not many people realize this, but even plugged in your electronics suck up energy, making a sort of “phantom energy.” According to the Lawrence Berkley Nation Laboratory, it is estimated that between five and ten percent of residential electric bills is caused by such phantom energy. Instead of frequently unplugging separate items repeatedly and risking electrocution, you can simply flip the switch to turn off the power. Not only will it save money, but it will help reduce your impact- it’s that simple! 

Check out these sources for more tips and tricks to help you “go green:”

http://www.epa.gov/smm/pdf/vision2.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1964887/

http://www.amexnetwork.com/paybills/Paperless.html

http://standby.lbl.gov/faq.html