College Students and the Environment

Opinions_Zackary Wiggins_Recycle Reduce Reuse_Kevin Dooley_1.24.13

Zackary Wiggins
Staff Writer

We live in a time of uncertainty.  A time when, in terms of the Earth’s climate, we are entering uncharted territory due to the extreme pollution, and destruction of our planet.  Climate change is happening at a terrifying rate. It is an obvious truth.

The data in favor of climate change being exaggerated by humans is undeniable.  Even if a certain United States political party and portion of the population want to deny it, that still doesn’t change the fact that it is happening and will continue to happen, even if we change our ways now.  

There have been times that I have felt helpless about changing the behavior of people towards our environment.  It seems that some people just don’t care.  They only care about what they want to do, their enjoyment and convenience, but we all have a special relationship with the environment.  

We are connected with it.  It provides us with everything that we, as humans, need to survive and live productive lives.  It provides us with medicine.  It provides us with forms of energy.  It is the reason why humans have been able to evolve into the most advanced species this planet has ever seen.  

However, most of the time the environment’s true value goes unappreciated. People, especially college students who are just now forming their habits and behaviors, need to take into consideration the damage that they are doing to the environment, and take measures to decrease their negative impact on it.  So what can they do?

For starters, college students can get involved in responsible living. This means being aware of the many little aspects of their day that can add up and make a major impact if enough people did it.  

An example of this could be making sure to turn off the lights when you leave the room. It’s so simple but it seems like many of us forget to do it, myself included sometimes.  Reducing water usage is also a big step.  

This is a hard one for me, as I love hot showers, but even cutting your shower time by one minute can save a little over two gallons of water. You multiply that by a week, that’s 14 gallons a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks, and that’s 728 gallons of water. And that would just be one person. Now imagine if everyone did that!  

Also, turning down the heat in the shower is important as well, which I would argue is even harder for some people to do.  Especially when it’s as cold as it’s been lately. When it comes to the temperature in your dorm or apartment, do not go to extremes.  In the summer, do not make it too cold, and in the winter, do not make it too warm.  

Try to use the windows as a much as possible, even eliminating the need for your thermostat.  The amount of energy needed to heat and cool a building, as well as heat water is astonishing. Just taking small measures like the ones I’ve listed will help save energy and help you feel good about protecting the environment.

Reducing the amount of waste one produces is also important in protecting the environment.  This is the most blatant solution as we have all seen what happens when trash enters the environment. Animals eat toxic material, get tangled in plastic and often suffocate. A lot of this can be prevented by putting your trash in a recycling instead of throwing out.  

In your own place, make sure to reduce the amount of waste you use, if you can. And the waste you do produce, please put it away correctly. I know we all get lazy sometimes, and too many times I have seen the recycling bin become a second trash can. In other instances, I see people use the recycling bin correctly, only to get lazy and discard it with the trash. If you have a recycling bin, use it!  

Recycle as much as you can, and know the difference between what is recyclable and what is not.

If you have a car, try not to use it unless you have to.  If you live off campus, but you’re close, maybe ride the Spartan Chariot, walk or ride a bike. I understand that in this country, we don’t make it easy for bikers as much as we should, but if there’s a bike lane then please utilize it.  

With every major issue I cover, the same solution always comes back around: every eligible person NEEDS to vote. Vote for people who believe that we should take care of our environment. Want new bike paths? Vote for people who want that as well. Want more funding for the Environmental Protection Agency? Do not vote for someone who says they’re going to defund it. Look for leaders who truly value the world around us.

Taking all of these small steps to live more responsibly, along with voting, is crucial to the health of our planet, and I truly encourage all of you to take part!  

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