OPINION: 6 tips for being environmentally conscious every day

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Vibrant pink and purple flowers begin to blossom in front of Hale Library after a long, cold winter. Earth Day is the perfect occasion to take a walk and admire the beauty of nature. (Brooke Barrett | Collegian Media Group)

Earth Day is here again. First celebrated in 1970, the global holiday is dedicated to education regarding environmental issues.

Many people and organizations come together each year on Earth Day and put on events to promote environmental friendliness and sustainability. The holiday is sometimes even celebrated for seven days and called Earth Week.

While Earth Day is a purposeful holiday that everyone should take part in, our ecosystem deserves more attention than just one day. Conservation efforts to protect our world should be taken every day, not just on April 22 each year.

Keep the following tips in mind if you’re looking for easy ways to be environmentally conscious every day of the year.

1. Reduce, reuse, recycle

One of the easiest ways to be friendly to the environment is with the three R’s of the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse and recycle. We’re all probably familiar with these terms, but the hierarchy is used to improve waste management and promote a sustainable lifestyle.

Reducing basically means cutting down on what is bought, produced or consumed. This is the basis of the hierarchy — if there’s a decrease in waste, there’s less to reuse and recycle.

Reusing is essential to waste management, too. Learning to reuse and repurpose items not only saves money in the long run, it also saves space in the landfill. Some examples include using old newspapers as wrapping paper and donating your old clothes and books rather than just throwing them away.

Recycling is the last stage of the waste hierarchy. Recycling isn’t just sorting out plastics and papers and cardboard, although that’s a great place to start (be sure to use Kansas State’s Recycling Center and on-campus bins). Recycling also includes being conscious of the materials you’re buying. Try to avoid excess plastic when buying packaged products, use reusable bags when grocery shopping and avoid the use of styrofoam cups and plastic straws.

The three R’s of the waste hierarchy are a great place to start if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint and live a more sustainable life.

2. Less is more

The phrase “less is more” ties into the reduce stage of the waste hierarchy. If there’s less being purchased, produced and consumed, there’s going to be a significant decrease in waste. It’s a super simple concept: buy less, consume less, waste less. For real, less is always more.

3. Turn it off

Another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is by conserving energy. When you leave a room, switch the light off. Unplug appliances when they aren’t in use. Conserving energy not only saves the planet, but it also saves you some money. It’s a win for you and a win for the Earth. What more could you ask for?

4. Conserve water

This one may be obvious, but a reminder never hurts anyone: conserve water! A couple ways to save water are to take shorter showers and to shut off the tap when brushing your teeth. Also, don’t buy bottled water; it’s a waste of plastic and you can buy a water filter instead.

5. Buy local

Another simple way to reduce your carbon footprint is to buy locally grown or made products. You’re not only supporting local farms or businesses, but you’re also saving the environment in regard to the transportation of goods. It’s another win-win situation.

6. Eat less meat

This one tends to be a little controversial, but cutting back on meat consumption can make a huge impact on the environment. You don’t have to stop eating meat entirely, but cutting back on the amount of meat you consume can prove beneficial to the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.

And if you still want to eat meat, chicken and seafood are much more environmentally friendly than pork or especially beef. The next time you’re craving a cheeseburger (while simultaneously wanting to save the planet), order a veggie burger or seafood instead.

The tips listed above are easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint and start living a more environmentally conscious, sustainable life. Let’s make every day Earth Day! How are you eco-friendly in your everyday life?

Emma Snyder is a junior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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