By Jillian Terry
Being climate change conscious while on campus
These days, it’s hard not to notice all the attention that subjects like climate change and the environment are receiving in our society. From new energy plans from the world’s most industrialized countries to award-winning documentaries by former politicians, the state of the environment and the crisis facing it is one of the most talked about issues of our time.
As students, our generation is being looked at as the primary source for a much-needed change, a prospect that seems almost as frightening as global warming itself.
Many students have walked through the UC at lunchtime, noticing garbage cans filled to the brim with remnants from the day’s meals. However, it can be difficult to equate that image with one of melting glaciers in the far north, and equally difficult to enact a personal change in your daily life. Nevertheless, there are dozens of ways to help the environment while on campus, even in activities that seem like entrenched scholarly habits.
One of the most obvious things that can be done to become more environmentally friendly is to recycle. Of course, we’ve been taught the three R’s since primary school and it may seem unnecessary to even think about it, but the reality still stands that our landfills are being needlessly added to each day with recyclable items. Of course, food and beverage containers are included in this category, but the UC is not the only place where you can make an impact.
The libraries at Memorial are some of the buildings that see the most paper usage each day. Reserve readings and journal articles can help to cut down on the cost of textbooks, but if not used in an environmentally-conscious way, they can actually hurt the environment. With the new photocopiers just installed at the Queen Elizabeth II Library, double-sided copying has become available. Students can save hundreds of sheets of paper each semester by taking an extra moment or two to make double-sided copies. If you don’t have the time, take your materials to Copy Services at the library or the Copy Centre in the UC and ask for double-sided copying. Equally important is knowing how to use the photocopiers before printing in order to minimize wasted sheets. Better yet, try accessing the library’s e-journals from home and reading articles on a computer rather than printing.
Before you even arrive at school each day, there are several things you can do to help the environment. Installing a simple low-flow shower head that uses less hot water can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Similarly, remembering to turn down the thermostat and turn off all electronic devices such as computers, DVD players and televisions before leaving your house can reduce your carbon dioxide output by thousands of pounds.
Getting to school is another area where changing your habits can help lessen the negative effects of climate change. Using public transportation is not only cost effective, but also reduces carbon dioxide emissions. If you have to use a vehicle, carpooling is a great option both for finding parking on campus and for the environment. Project Green’s carpool service, Ride Share, is a great way to find other students to share a vehicle with both during and between semesters. Also, remembering to keep your tires properly inflated improves gas mileage and decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In addition, biking or walking to school both difficult feats during the winter semester, but a great solution in the fall or spring is good for both your personal health and the health of the environment.
Thanks to a newfound public awareness, it is consistently becoming easier to be environmentally friendly. By following some of these ideas while at school, you can take comfort in knowing that the generation that follows ours may not have to face the climate crisis that is currently predicted, and with a few minor adjustments to your daily life, our campus and planet will be a cleaner place.
Jillian Terry is an environmentally-conscious Arts student