Up until today, it has been months since I last stopped in the UCC to buy a coffee. Today, I cracked. Normally, every time I walk through the UCC I see a large line in front of Tim Horton’s and Starbucks. I cringe when I see this—every cup of coffee poured and every doughnut bought represents waste. Money is being wasted by the person who goes every day. Time is being wasted by all who wait in line. And valuable resources are being wasted for a simple food item.
We live in a finite world. The resources that go into making fast-food products are enormous and the waste is proportionate. Energy is one particular resource that we are throwing away. Massive quantities of energy are needed to produce, transport and eventually sell you whatever product you buy. Energy consumption, as we know, ultimately produces greenhouse gases.
I want to live in a healthy world, so I try to do my best to lessen my environmental footprint. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions can help slowdown global warming. I agree that occasional treats like a coffee can be understandable; however, I also agree that we need to make a conscious effort to reduce our environmental impact. Many people ignore the impact that they have on the earth because they think that it is too difficult to change their ways. Below, I’ve made a list of simply steps that we as university students can take to ensure that our future is not as dire as Al Gore predicts. Many of these steps are easy to implement and often save you money.
- Pack your lunch. Fast-food outlets are very wasteful. Think of all the cardboard, plastic, and Styrofoam that you waste every time you eat out or buy a drink. Packing your own lunch in reusable containers will save you money, is often healthier and can reduce your waste.
- Avoid meat and animal products. Farm animals—cattle in particular—produce massive amounts of greenhouse gasses. If you want to save the planet, trade your beef for beans, legumes, and greens. Not only will a vegan diet lessen your carbon footprint, but you are also being more ethical and healthy. This is often a hard aspect for people to change. Start by slowly introducing vegan meals throughout the week and very quickly you will adapt. Lots of delicious vegan recipes can be found online!
- Walk more. How often have driven only a block or two away, or taken the bus only to get off two stops later? Walking not only cuts back on transportation emissions, but it also keeps you fit.
- Unplug. Electronics consume electricity if they are plugged in—regardless of whether or not they are in use. Try unplugging electronics after use or plug multiple electronics into a powerbar so that you only need to unplug one cord.
- Lower your heat and cut back on you’re A/C. Heating and cooling are among some of your home’s (and residence’s) largest energy consumers. Try keeping your heating around 18°C and cooling above 25°C. When you’re too cold, put on a sweater. If you’re too hot, have a glass of cold water.
I know that none of these tips are groundbreaking, but every so often it helps to be reminded. If you make these simple adjustments, you can start living a more environmentally friendly life with the added benefits of saving money and improving your health. Occasionally, like me today you too may crack and do something less environmentally friendly; however, we can work to ensure that overall we do our best.