You don’t have to major in Environmental Science to know that each one of us impacts the earth in our own way—for better and worse. Earth Day (which is celebrating its 50th anniversary on April 22, 2020) is a great time to remember the simple things we can do to tread a bit lighter on our one and only planet. It’s not as hard as you think, and there’s an added bonus: These tips can save you some time and money, too.
1. Unplug your devices
Need more sleep? So does your computer. Here’s a quick energy saver: Set your computer to automatically go to sleep after 5 or 10 minutes of idleness and unplug it completely every night. These will help to reduce your electricity usage and ditch your “phantom” load (the electricity your devices use if they’re plugged in—even when they’re turned off).
2. Turn off the tap
Everybody needs water, but we tend to use more than we need. Be a more efficient water user by turning off the tap when it’s not needed (e.g., when brushing your teeth), ensuring leaks or drips in piping and fixtures are repaired, taking shorter showers, and only doing laundry when you have a full load.
3. Green your commute
How do you get to, from, and around campus? We know that walking, biking, and skateboarding are great for the air and your heart, lungs, muscles, and brain, so choose one of those whenever you can. Also, taking public transit or carpooling are great options on not-so-great weather days or when you’re traveling far.
4. Ditch single-use plastics
Reduce waste by bringing your own or opting for reusable cups, water bottles, straws, containers, cutlery, etc. wherever possible. Affordable, reusable water bottles are everywhere these days, and some even keep your drinks hot or cold. You can also bring reusable takeout containers (e.g., TupperwareⓇ) for your leftovers when you go out to eat. This will reduce food waste and save you time prepping for tomorrow’s lunch. Win-win!
5. Get involved
Find out what your school does—or can do better—to reduce its impact on nature and support eco-conscious initiatives on-site. See if it has an Office of Sustainability webpage that shares its accomplishments, goals, and campus-specific tips for students and staff. Or even consider joining or starting eco-friendly clubs, groups, campaigns, and events.
University of Michigan. (n.d.). Take charge of your power. Retrieved from https://sustainablecomputing.umich.edu/take-charge/
The Water Project. (n.d.). 17 water conservation tips and tricks. Retrieved from https://thewaterproject.org/water_conservation_tips
People Powered Movement. (n.d.). Benefits of biking & walking. Retrieved from https://www.peoplepoweredmovement.org/benefits-of-biking-walking/