Photo by Alexandria Moore
College students usually have their attention divided in many different ways. Students have classes, jobs and internships to concern themselves with. With all the buzz happening on a college campus, many students do not have environmentally-friendly living on their minds. What some students do not realize is that there are ways a college student can live eco-friendly without having to break the bank or make any major lifestyle changes.
If you are considering becoming more eco-friendly but don’t have a good enough reason, consider this: Your health and the health of your family, friends and loved ones will be at risk if humanity as a whole is not willing to make a change. According to a study by the Global Carbon Project, total carbon emissions from industry and fossil fuels rose to 36.2 gigatons of CO2 in 2017.
An eco-friendly lifestyle change that may seem obvious is recycling. So many students neglect to recycle, however, because they feel that it will be time-consuming and difficult. In reality, recycling is so simple. Set aside a few small bins to separate out your plastics, cans and cardboard instead of throwing them away. When the bins are full, all you have to do is drop them off in the appropriate receptacles at the Southern Miss Physical Plant. You may have to put in a little extra effort in your daily routine, but you will feel so much better knowing you are doing something positive for the earth.
Another simple way to start living eco-friendly is by reducing your use of single-use plastics and other disposable products. According to The Globalist, an average person living in North America uses 220 pounds of plastic each year. That figure may surprise you because most people don’t even think about the amount of plastic they throw away every day. You can cut back by avoiding plastic bottles and plastic silverware. Dishes might be inconvenient, but the long term benefits for the planet are well worth the effort.
One of the most important things you can do to help the planet, however, is being mindful of the products you buy. Your role as a consumer determines the future of our planet. Many products contain unnecessary plastics in their packaging, or the materials are not sourced in an eco-friendly way. This is not to say that you should completely change your shopping habits, but it is something to keep in mind the next time you’re at the store.
Some people argue that it is ok to use disposable plastics as long as they are recycled. This is unfortunately not the case. Saying that it is ok to use single-use plastic if you recycle it is an overly simplified way of looking at the issue. Recycling is an industry like everything else, and in North America, there isn’t much of a domestic market for recycling. In short, putting your plastic in a recycling bin won’t make a difference if no one can make money off of it. There is sadly no guarantee that what you put into a recycling bin will ever actually get recycled.
Riding a bike to work or school is another great way to cut down on carbon emissions and get in some good exercise at the same time. If biking isn’t your thing or not a possibility, consider carpooling or using public transportation.
In short, living eco-friendly is not a lifestyle. It is something that everyone has the means to do to some extent. No one is expecting you to make a big change, but it is time to take responsibility and help our planet while we still can.