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Being Environmentally Friendly in 2020

The new year is in full swing, and it’s likely that many have already given up on their resolutions. A study by Strava, a social network for athletes, shows that most people report failing their resolutions by Jan. 12 of each new year. Whether you love the chance to commit yourself to new goals and changes in the beginning of the year or are disillusioned with the idea of resolutions altogether, it’s never too late to have aspirations to better oneself or, in this case, the environment. 

If becoming more environmentally friendly was among your New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone. Seventy-seven percent of Americans wanted to learn how to live more sustainably in 2019, according to Forbes, and the E.ON found that more than 28 million people in Britain pledged to become more environmentally friendly as a part of their 2020 New Year’s Resolutions. 

Becoming more environmentally friendly doesn’t have entail drastic changes. If going completely vegan or trading your car for a bike aren’t realistic commitments for your life as a student, there are many college-friendly ways to help the environment and live for a cleaner future. Below are some smaller changes that individuals can make in their daily lives to reduce their resource footprint and increase the sustainability of their lifestyle. 

Reduce meat intake-

Americans ate a record amount of meat in 2018, with the average American eating 222.2 pounds per year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, at this rate, our meat-eating habits are unsustainable. Data from Green Peace shows that the livestock sector produces as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks and airplanes combined and causes significant pollution of streams, rivers and the ocean. This prompted many scientists and researchers from various universities and international organizations, including the UN, to urgently recommend a 90% decrease in beef consumption for Western countries. While governments consider policies such as a meat tax, individuals can cut down on the amount of meat in their diets and go ‘meatless’ for one or more days of the week. Eating less meat can help reduce the impact of global warming, conserve water, curtail deforestation and promote cleaner rivers and oceans. 

Use less paper-

The average person may use 10,000 sheets of paper in a year, according to Fair Reporters. While most students need to use paper for taking notes and printing essays, individuals can reduce their paper use by writing on the backs of old print outs, only printing homework and essays when required and taking notes on electronic devices or within one notebook instead of multiple. Additionally, we can recycle the paper we do use and purchase paper products made from recycled material. By using less paper, we can reduce deforestation, pollution and carbon emissions. 

Reuse and recycle-

The average American will dispose of more than 600 times their weight in trash and waste during their lifetime, according to Arrow Waste. That’s somewhere around four pounds of garbage every day. Humans are generating unsustainable quantities of trash, and the waste that is not biodegradable takes up vast amounts of landfill space and pollutes our rivers and oceans. Additionally, landfill trash releases methane into the environment, and the burning of trash emits large amounts of carbon dioxide. To counteract this issue, individuals can reuse and recycle by cutting down on single-use plastics (like using reusable bags and water bottles instead of plastic ones), purchasing items that are recyclable and buying second-hand when possible. 

Shop second-hand-

In the vein of reusing and recycling, individuals can buy their clothes second-hand by shopping at thrift stores. The fashion industry produces 10% of all carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of water and causes pollution of the ocean, as reported by Reuters. Individuals can help reduce the environmentally damaging effects of ‘fast fashion’ by purchasing clothes second-hand. Potters House, Goodwill and 2 Gals Junk are popular thrift stores in Siloam Springs that provide thrifted clothing options. 

Use eco-friendly products

‘Eco-friendly’ products are products that are not harmful to the environment. This can range from the chemicals in a product to its biodegradability. While truly eco-friendly products are sometimes pricier up front, they are often cost efficient as they last much longer. When shopping for eco-friendly items, look for the Energy Star, USDA Organic Seal or Green Seal. Some eco-friendly products include reusable water bottles, reusable grocery bags, biodegradable trash bags, reusable straws, reusable coffee filters, LED light bulbs, natural makeup, cleaning products and products made from recycled material. 

Conserve water-

The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water every day, according to the EPA. With droughts and polluted water causing clean water shortages across the nation and the world, individuals can do their part by conserving water and avoiding unnecessary water waste. You can turn off the water while you brush your teeth or wash your face and take shorter showers. Additionally, only do laundry when you have a full load. 

Unplug-

One of the easiest ways to become more environmentally friendly is to unplug and check the energy settings on your electronic devices. Activating a device’s energy settings saves battery life and conserves energy. When possible, cut down on wasted electricity by unplugging chargers and other appliances and by making sure that streaming videos aren’t playing while you sleep. Using less power and electricity reduces the amount of toxic fumes released by power plants and helps conserve natural resources. 

Walk or bike when you can-

Transportation is one of the largest sources of global-warming pollution. The production and usage of cars and trucks account for a fifth of all US carbon and global warming emissions, according to National Geographic. While it probably isn’t realistic for many students to stop driving altogether, individuals can reduce their carbon footprint and travel more sustainably by walking, biking and carpooling whenever they can.