25 Ways to Save the Environment: A Student’s Microguide

With sea levels rising, plants and animals facing extinction, and storms growing bigger than ever before, global warming is one of our greatest challenges. Fortunately, if everyone does their part, we can reduce such catastrophic effects. Between classes and studying, students have little time to think about taking on this cause. But, by adopting small changes, students can make a considerable environmental impact for the better.

  1. Recycle It – Did you know it can take a million years for glass to decompose? Recycling is one of the easiest ways to help the environment. It reduces waste and greenhouse gas emissions, while saving energy and natural resources.

  2. Primp Your Ride – You don’t have to purchase a new Prius to save the environment. Maintaining your vehicle can help preserve the planet. Under inflated tires increase fuel consumption by four percent, and regular oil changes reduce harmful emissions.

  3. Lights Out – Artificial lighting accounts for 15 percent of electricity use in the home. When leaving your dorm room, flip the light switch to help conserve energy.

  4. A Brighter Bulb – When you need the lights on, switch to a smarter light bulb. According to the United States Department of Energy, fluorescent bulbs use 25 to 30 percent of the energy used by incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light while lasting much longer.

  5. Go Old School – The production and shipment of new clothing and furniture to stores uses natural resources and increases pollution. Not only is vintage de rigueur, donating used clothing and furniture is environmentally friendly.

  1. Two Wheels are Better Than Four – For shorter commutes to school and around town, consider biking instead of driving. Bicycling is the greenest form of transportation, saving one pound of CO2 emissions for every mile biked.

  2. Bring Your Own Bag – Instead of toting purchased goods in plastic bags, bring your own reusable bags on shopping trips.

  3. Makeover Your Makeup – Many cosmetic companies are becoming more eco-conscious, offering makeup free of harmful petrochemicals in biodegradable or recyclable packaging. Making sure your makeup is organic and not tested on animals is as good for your skin as it is the environment.

  4. Reusable Mugs and BPA-Free Bottles – The production of single use paper cups and plastic water bottles creates loads of pollution and waste. The Pacific Institute reports that bottling water produced 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2006.

  5. Plant a Tree – Gather a group of friends to plant trees in your favorite park. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, making them key players in combating the effects of global warming.

  1. Avoid Energy Leaks – Unplugging your cell phone charger and electronics when you aren’t using them will save about 10 percent of your household energy. That might not sound like much, but in a year the average household spends more than $100 on energy to power unused devices. To make unplugging easier, plug multiple electronics into a power strip.

  2. Repurpose Paper – The average college student will turn in hundreds of pages of assignments during their college career. Do your part to save some trees by stocking your printer with recycled paper, printing on both sides of the page when possible and taking notes on a laptop instead of a notepad.

  3. Slim Down Packaging – Individually packaged foods might be more convenient, but extra packaging means extra waste. Instead of buying single serving bags of chips or trail mix for quick snacks, buy in bulk and portion servings into reusable containers.

  4. (Re)charge It – Disposing batteries leaches harmful materials into the environment. While rechargeable batteries cost more initially, they can last many years.

  5. Ban Baths, Take Shorter Showers – The average bath requires 37 gallons of water. To conserve water, take a five minute shower, which uses around 25 gallons of water instead.

  1. Put It On the Line – Using a clothesline or a drying rack is more energy-efficient than an electric dryer, and it prolongs the life of your clothes.

  2. Slow Down, Save Gas – Conserving gasoline not only helps the planet, it saves money. For every mile per hour over 55 that you drive, your vehicle’s fuel economy is reduced by one percent.

  3. Meatless Mondays – The production of one pound of beef requires 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water. Help reduce the use of fossil fuels and natural resources by eating a vegetable-based diet at least one day a week.

  4. Rent Your Reads – If everyone checked out books from the library or purchased used books, we could save trees, cut down on emissions from book production, and reduce the pollution created shipping new books to stores.

  5. Drink Green Beer – Chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to produce hops for beer are harmful to the environment. Support organic, sustainable beer companies instead.

  1. Season’s Eatings – Eating apples in the summer and tomatoes in the winter means your produce had to travel a long way from its source. Choosing organic, local produce is better for the environment and your taste buds.

  2. A Better Bean – According to a survey conducted by Accounting Principals, American workers between the ages of 18 and 24 spend the most on coffee. Instead of paying more for that coffee house latte, buy shade-grown, organic coffee beans to fuel marathon study sessions.

  3. Plant a Garden – Organize a community garden for your dorm or maintain a backyard plot with roommates. Consuming food grown close to home reduces your carbon footprint.

  4. Recycle Your Cell – Between upgrading to the latest model or shattering the screen during a fumble, it’s no surprise that the average life of a cell phone is 18 months. These high-tech gadgets often contain materials like lead, arsenic and zinc, which contaminate soil and water when they are tossed into a landfill. Instead, find a recycling location or donate a working phone to someone in need.

  5. Nix the Napkin – The average American uses six paper napkins a day, many of which end up in a landfill. If everyone used one less napkin a day, we could reduce landfill waste by more than 500 million pounds.

Find more ways to reduce environmental impact by calculating your carbon footprint. Making any of these lifestyle changes and sharing this list with friends and family will help prevent further deterioration to our planet.