5 Easy Switches To A More Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle

5 Easy Switches To A More Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle

And no, recycling is not on this list. You probably already do that.

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With the Trump administration's destruction of the many environmentally focused endeavors of our country (the Paris Agreement) as well as President Trump's flagrant dismissal of climate change in general, it seems more crucial than ever to use our agency to make environmentally conscious decisions. With folks like Lauren Singer who reduced her waste-production rate to a jar every four years, it can be overwhelming. So, here's a list of five easy, cheap steps to decrease your carbon footprint a bit.

1. Drink from a reusable water bottle or glass.

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Everyone's heard this one. Although it's easy, since most of us already have glasses and reusable water bottles, it was a hard habit for me to tackle. I was so used to grabbing a plastic Deer Park water bottle before school, rather than fill one up. I kept forgetting. To negate this, I keep my reusable on my desk and in sight!

2. Eat at home more.

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It's hard to give up going out— Especially with all these healthy choices like Panera or Saladworks to convince us that we're making the right decision! But, just think of all the money you'll be saving if you eat at home!

3. Cut out at least some of the animal products in your diet.

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You don't have to go completely vegan/vegetarian to limit your impact! Even cutting out meat for three days out of the week or only eating white meat like chicken can make a big difference!

4. Shop at second-hand stores.

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Shopping at a thrift store is like another form of recycling, along with supporting your local communities' businesses. Don't be fooled— I've found some nice finds, like a Gucci wallet for nine dollars, so don't think that it's all "dumpy."

5. Do an activity that doesn’t require electricity.

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This could be reading a book or going for a walk outside. It could even be cleaning your room. Perhaps, instead of staring at your phone/computer, you could do something for an hour to give you a greater sense of accomplishment while also decreasing your carbon footprint.

Hopefully, these tips are easy to incorporate into your daily schedule and help you save a bit of money in the process too!

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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The Earth is On Fire, Here's What We Can Do To Help Before Our Actions Are Irreversible

"The earth is on f*cking fire," tweeted Bill Nye the Science Guy.

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We have all seen the past few months and few years just how bad climate change has gotten. The increase in temperatures, flooding, hurricanes, snowstorms, etc. we have been experiencing are not normal. And they are going to get worse, so worse to the point that how we live is not going to be sustainable to continuously get through the damage these weather events bring.

We have 12 years to turn the trajectory around on how we treat our home. 12 years. Change starts little, but when billions of people partake in change, it can be big and revolutionary. Action needs to be taken by each and every one of us.

1. Recycle

One of the easiest ways to help the planet — recycle. Recycle plastic, paper, whatever can be recycled. It might seem small and not helpful but think of if you are to do this all the time, it makes a HUGE difference. Especially if millions of people continue to do it.

Garbage just sits there and never really degrades. It just sits and takes thousands of years to degrade. So recycle and help save the earth one small step at a time.

2. Reuse

Buy usable water bottles, use Tupperware, use an actual lunchbox instead of a paper sack or plastic bag. I'm at fault for this too — I always buy a case of plastic water bottles for college. I'll reuse them a few times and then recycle them. But, just think of how much plastic I can save if I were to just use my reusable water bottles.

And, it's not even plastic water bottles — it's plastic baggies, straws, etc. We use so much plastic day in and day out that is not reusable. Whip out the reusable plastic, Tupperware that is washable. Also, Starbucks you get so much off if you use a reusable cup for your drink.

It's the small things you change in your life every day that can help the earth.

3. Drive less

Okay, this one can be difficult to do — especially if you live in a small town where you have no choice but to drive to get places. BUT, if you can, carpool with people, ride a bike, walk, scooter, or whatever you need to do. If you live in a college town or a big city, take the train or bus, ride your bike to school, scooter, roller skate, walk, skateboard or hover-board to places.

In college towns, it's normal to see people using scooters, roller skates or hoverboards, like, why don't we all just join in on the fun?

4. Wash clothes in cold water

Washing clothes in cold water saves more water, and it is just as efficient as washing your clothes in warm water too. And if you want to take the extra step, hang dry clothes. Even though this one is a far step, even for me, it could save some money for you and help the environment a small bit.

5. Upcycle

Basically, upcycling is taking something old, such as clothes, and making it into something new. You can even do this with old furniture or anything sitting around the house that could possibly be reused. You save money from buying brand new things and you can whip out your DIY skills and brush them up at the same time.

6. Unplug when not in use

When you are using your phone charger, computer charger, etc., unplug. Unplugging will help save energy since it isn't drawing any power. Especially if you're leaving home from a while, or going on vacation, unplug things that do not need to be in use while you are gone.

7. Pick up trash

Most trash we throw out is not biodegradable and takes years to even start to decompose on earth. So pick that trash up and put it in a trash or recycle bin. It is unhealthy for our mother earth, she deserves to be clean and healthy and treated with love.

8. Plant, plant, plant

Plant trees. They take years to grow BUT they are the lungs of our earth. The help produces oxygen by breathing in carbon dioxide and releasing it as oxygen.

Plant flowers. During photosynthesis, the leaves of the flowers absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Additionally, planting flowers can help hold soil in its proper place and reduce erosion and flooding.

Flowers are gorgeous to look at and smell lovely and helps the bee population.

There is so much more we can all do to help our planet. This is our only home — we don't get another planet to fly off to when things get bad. We can't continue to treat our one and only home like crap — our earth deserves the love, kindness, cleanliness and healthiest environment to continue to thrive and support our way of life.

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