Ring in the new year the right way by adopting environmentally friendly habits. Small changes can make a big impact, especially when it comes to daily life. Whether it is switching from plastic straws, utilizing reusable bags, or simply conserving more, leaving a smaller personal carbon footprint this year will be a breeze.
Plastic straws became an apparent issue last year and now is the time to make the switch. Disturbing videos of plastic straws being removed from turtles’ heads and bodies went digitally viral towards the end of 2018. Converting to reusable straws helps to prevent waste from harming sea creatures and other wildlife. For example, metal straws, unlike their plastic counterparts, do not get mistaken as food by sea life. Reducing plastic waste in general helps the entire ecosystem. This is why this switch is crucial.
Eliminating personal plastic bag usage, especially from grocery stores, can significantly reduce plastic pollution. Reusable bags are sold at most supermarkets and online to encourage a more environmentally friendly approach to grocery shopping. Due to plastics degrading and clumping together, toxins absorb into small globs of plastics from pesticides and hydrocarbons from the surrounding air and water. These toxic plastics then make their way into the ocean and are consumed by sea creatures. Not only are reusable bags better for the environment, but they are also easy to access and use in daily life. Another contributor to these toxic plastic globs is face wash. Microbeads in face wash are a not commonly known polluter. These beads are so small they pass through filtration systems and end up in waterways, rivers, and oceans. The beads also collect toxins from metropolitan and agricultural runoff, which is dangerous for fish. Although not known by many, legislative action has been taken against these dangerous microbeads. In Illinois, the beads were banned from production in 2018 and cannot be sold in the state starting this year. However, this legislation does not help every region across the nation. Cutting out face washes and soaps that contain microbeads benefits local environments and reduces toxicity in nearby water bodies.
Conserving water has been drilled into students’ minds since the third grade. However, implementing this idea into a college lifestyle is harder than it seemed at the age of eight. Cutting down time in the shower and turning off water while brushing teeth are two of the simplest ways to practice conservation. Energy conservation methods, such as only using a dishwasher and washing machine when both are completely full, reduce the electrical impact. Unplugging appliances can also reduce power, even when they are not being used. Opening windows can benefit air quality in living spaces and can also help to manage room temperature by limiting heat and air conditioning usage. All of these conservation methods also reduce utility bills, so while helping the environment, the bank account benefits as well. Environmentally friendly habits are a win-win situation.
Through cutting down on plastics, double-checking what is in face washes or soaps, and conserving electricity and water, each student has the potential to make a positive impact on the environment. Although one person making small changes can seem insignificant, there is power in numbers. Making environmentally friendly changes can help 2019 be the year focused on our earth.