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Get informed, take action, make a difference

How to live a greener life
By Sarah Richards
Artwork By Katelyn Bailey

Environmentalism isn’t just for hippies or millennials, and one doesn’t have to be as wealthy as Ed Begley Jr. to make positive change. With every environmental crisis (like the BP oil spill, for example) people are becoming more aware of their environmental impact with every carbon footprint they take and the choices they make. Not everyone can afford solar panels, hybrid cars or even green versions of sundries like laundry detergent and “bath tissue,” but everyone can take small steps that make a big difference.  

In some ways, it can actually cost less to live a more environmentally-friendly life.  One can combine shopping trips to burn less gasoline, avoid speeding, consume less food by implementing a farm-to-table lifestyle, rent rather than buy (depending on the how often you will use the product), air dry bath towels after each use (the seventh time just might be the charm), use a toaster oven rather than a full-size oven (great for Florida summers), use a laptop (as they use roughly half the energy of a desktop), and invest in a water filter rather than buying bottled water. What is good for the planet can also be good for us.

When going to the grocery store, try to opt-out of paper or plastic bags; reusable bags are still best, except for when using raw meat. Use glass straws rather than plastic ones that get tossed after one use. Borrow books from the library instead of buying them, or use Netflix instead of paying for movies.

Some students recycle, but others do a little bit more.  Even enough people doing the smallest things can make a great impact. Carissa Adams, a Business major says “I cut up the rings around Gatorade bottles to help protect the sea turtles.”

Some companies, like the Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, have created 6-pack beverage rings created from beer by-products (such as barley and wheat) that feed marine life.

Many green habits grow from one’s environment. “When you live in California, you’re used to saving water. We use a bucket in the shower to catch excess water and then water the plants with it,” says Skylor Newton, a Cybersecurity major. One might call that a manual form of a greywater system.  

When we think of pollution, we think of trash—something tangible one could hold in their hand. Culinary management major Shelby Butts says, “When I was in high school, I volunteered with Turtle THiS which measured light pollution. Sea turtles are more sensitive to blue spectrum lighting and will go towards that rather than the moon which causes them to get run over, eaten or dried out. Our mission was to try to get companies on the beach to invest in red spectrum lighting which is better.”  

Environmental awareness isn’t just about taking action but also knowing what actions to take. A lack of education or an abundance of ignorance can be a dangerous thing.

You don’t have to be an environmental science major to help our planet.  Sometimes, the greenest thing to do is to reuse and not have to recycle in the first place, as recycling still requires energy.  Furthermore, invest in durable goods. Cheap goods can turn out to be more expensive in the long run.  When one is constantly replacing things, more things are made. With proper care, items such as books, clothing and furniture can last for years.  

In many ways, people a century ago were greener by default, wasting less food by using the whole animal, repurposing old clothes into quilts or rag rugs, and using cleaners such as baking soda and vinegar.  Though many may not have the skills (or the stomach) for such things, they can find things they can do and go from there.

Living in the electronic age, people produce an incredible amount of e-waste. Items such as cell phones which contribute a great deal to waste because of their short lifespan. When one replaces their cell phones with a new model every few years or so, the old model doesn’t always get recycled.  It’s better to donate one’s phone than recycle it.  

For more information on what to do with old cell phones, go to