A Better yOU: Lesson I’ve Learned From Being Eco-Friendly

I hate to admit it, but I never used to be that environmentally conscious. I never made a huge effort to recycle, I would pack my lunches in a brown bag everyday, and I would stay inside a lot to watch TV. Yeah, it was bad. That is until I took an environmental science class in high school and a whole new world opened for me.  I learned about the environmental impact that one individual can have on the planet, which is a carbon footprint of about 27 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year according to The Nature Conservancy. This can be drastically reduced once you start thinking about how your actions affect the environment. When I started to become more eco-friendly in my daily life, I not only reduced my carbon footprint, but I also learned some valuable lessons.

How to be frugal

There are a bunch of changes that can be made in your home.  Small changes such as switching out light bulbs for LED bulbs, shutting off the lights when you leave a room, and taking shorter showers can add up to real savings! Buying reusable items like cloth towels, water bottles, and non-disposable dishes can also cut back on your spending and contributions to the landfill. Saving money on gas is also possible with a more eco-friendly outlook. I’m not suggesting you trade in your car for a bike or walk three hours to work everyday. Carpooling or taking advantage of public transportation (like the Bear Bus) can cut back on carbon emissions and save you some extra cash. Think about walking or biking to class next time it’s warmer out too.

How to be healthier

Saving money on gas is great, but making the effort to walk more can also add extra steps to your day. If you read my last article, you should know that the recommended amount of steps per day is about 10,000. Walking more can improve your cardiovascular health, help you lose weight, and decrease risk of diabetes.  Another way to improve your health and the environment is to lessen your consumption of meat products. The livestock industry creates more carbon emissions than any other protein. According to the United Nations, meat production results in almost a fifth of all greenhouse gases and takes up 30 percent  of our planet’s usable land. This does not mean you have to become a vegetarian or vegan. However, replacing meat with other protein sources or veggies every once in a while will not only add variety and nutrition to your diet, but you’ll be helping the environment too!

How to love nature

The more you love the environment, the more it loves you. Going outside (yes, even in the winter) instead of sitting inside watching TV can reduce energy usage and give you a chance to be more active. During the winter season, it’s very tempting to sit inside and play video games or surf the Internet, but going outside and snowboarding or even building a snowman can help you appreciate what nature has to offer while cutting back on energy consumption. Take advantage of the outdoors and don’t be afraid to turn off your computer or TV every once in a while. When you start to think about conserving energy inside, the outside world becomes a beautiful alternative.

Upcoming environmental, health, and wellness events:

  • Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection General Meeting, January 28th, 12:00pm – 1:00pm – Lake Superior A Room in the Oakland Center
  • Student Congress Recycling Games, February 3rd, 2:00pm – 5:00pm, Banquet Room A in the Oakland Center
  • American Red Cross Club General Meeting, February 10th, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Lake Superior B Room in the Oakland Center