Happy Earth Week, Augustana!
April 22 is the one day each year that we take a moment to reflect on how blessed we are to call this planet our home.
Sometimes it seems as if the pressing issues facing our world—climate change, deforestation and ocean acidification, to name a few—are too difficult to tackle.
It’s easy to fall into thinking that our own individual actions don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The good news is that you can work to save the planet by making tiny changes to your collegiate lifestyle.
Here are some useful tips to help you effect change and become a more environmentally friendly college student:
Take shorter, colder showers. Trust me, they can be an invigorating wake-up call to get you moving in the morning. Turn off the water while applying shampoo and conditioner or shaving in order to conserve more water. One trick I use is to pick a short (2-3 minute) song on Spotify and try to be in and out of the shower by the time the song is done. My current shower jam is Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.”
Eat less meat. Beef, pork and chicken require a lot of water to produce, contribute to deforestation, the loss of grasslands and wetlands and generate tons of greenhouse gas emissions. If you can’t go fully vegetarian or vegan, try a “flexitarian” diet and see if you can limit your meat consumption to just once or twice per week. It’s healthier, too.
Conserve energy in your dorm room. Get a power strip to turn off appliances and chargers that are “energy phantoms.” Replace any lamp bulbs with LEDs and shut off the lights whenever you leave the room.
Drive less. Sioux Falls is slowly but surely becoming more bike-friendly and the bus system is improving. You can organize a carpool with friends to conserve gas and reduce greenhouse gas emissions if you all need to get groceries.
Just say no to disposable plastic water bottles. Only 23 percent of these bottles get recycled and many end up polluting our rivers and oceans. Invest in a reusable water bottle and take advantage of all the filling stations at water fountains on campus to stay hydrated.
Shop with reusable bags. Invest in several durable bags and store them somewhere accessible so you always have them handy when you make a run to a grocery store or drugstore. You can even make them out of old t-shirts.
Ditch your Keurig. Single-use K-cups are ridiculously wasteful and difficult to recycle, so bring a clean, reusable mug to the Huddle or dining hall whenever you need to refuel for your study grind instead. If you consider yourself a coffee enthusiast, invest in your own coffee pot and bean grinder and share your fair-trade, shade-grown, ethically-sourced coffee with friends. That way you can buy beans and sustainable sourced, biodegradable filters in bulk.
Recycle more. Educate yourself on what can and can’t be recycled and be sure to sort things properly. It’s easier to recycle when it becomes second nature.
Buy used whenever possible. Before making any major purchases, try checking Craigslist or Freecycle to see if you can score a sweet deal. I also make a conscious effort to buy 95 percent of my clothes from thrift stores rather than from retailers to reject the harmful fashion industry.
When you talk to your friends and loved ones about climate change, remind them that inaction will lead to human suffering.
We simply don’t have time for denial.
Bonus: If you want to see this campus become more sustainable, join Augie Green!
We need more leaders who are passionate about reducing Augustana’s carbon footprint and educating the student body on ways to help our planet.
Come to our meetings Mondays at 7 p.m. or find us on Viking Central.
Together, we can usher in a brighter future for ourselves and future generations!
Liz Renner is a senior biology major from Crooks, S.D.