5 Ways To Help Save The World

5 Easy, Meaningful Ways You Can Help Save The World

These hacks will take 5 minutes, and can save the world for 500 years to come.

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My greatest pet peeve is when people use Earth Day as an excuse to just post photos of a vacation they went on years ago. Sure, it's great that you went to Spain that one time three years ago and finally have an excuse to post that VSCO photo of your trip, but don't pretend like you are sharing that photo because you actually care about Earth Day. It is really easy to become a passive consumer of Earth Day, but it is equally as easy to be an active participant in making a change for OUR Earth. So, here are 10 ways you can actually save the earth on Earth Day, and every day.

1. Don't use plastic bags

We all know how dangerous plastic bags are for our environment. Plastic takes 1,000 (Yes, you heard me: ONE. THOUSAND.) years to decompose, and ultimately just sits in and builds up landfills across the world. Think about that. You use a plastic bag for the convenience of 30 minutes, but that same plastic bag will end up dirtying our planet and hurting animals for 525,600,000 minutes. This doesn't have to be the case, because reusable bags are super convenient and cost-efficient as well. I have found some super cute ones on Amazon, at Whole Foods, and even at Home Goods. All you have to do is keep one or two reusable bags in your car, or maybe one in your backpack to help make an impact in saving the planet.

2. Turn off your electronics when you leave the room

Think about all the different electronics you have plugged into your outlets at home right now. In my room, I probably have my fan on, my lamp plugged in, and my phone charger stuck in the wall. This, keep in mind, is all while I'm not even in the room. Leaving our electronics plugged in or our lights on while we're not in the room is a ridiculous waste of resources, especially nonrenewable resources that could be better used for other, more beneficial, output. If this isn't reason enough, remember that it is estimated that the electronics you leave on in your room could cost you an additional $230 a year. That's at least 57 coffees that you can't buy because you just left your appliances plugged in for no reason. Think about that!

3. Turn off your water when you brush your teeth

We've all had the age-old debate regarding whether you should wet your toothbrush before or after you put on toothpaste, but one part that is undebatable is that our faucet should be turned off when we are brushing our teeth. Doing so during your two-minute teeth brushing period can save up to 5 gallons a day, which is such a simple and easy fix.

4. Be a vegetarian for a day

I'm not going to attempt to coerce you into feeling bad for eating animals, because I by no means am a vegetarian. However, it is an absolute fact that producing a single pound of meat takes 2,500 gallons of water. Considering how quickly the average American consumes hamburgers or chicken, this is a crazy amount of water to waste every single day. Substituting your chicken tenders for lunch for a salad and some rice just once a week could be just as filling for your stomach and much less harmful to our environment. (And in my opinion, the fries and milkshakes at McDonald's are much better than the Big Macs!)

5. Don't grab a napkin unless you need it

I've watched people do it before, when preparing for a meal you grab three or four napkins, and you end up using one at most. Those extra and unused napkins just get tossed into the garbage and end up manifesting in a landfill that will never efficiently decompose. If we all just used one less napkin a day, we could save a billion pounds of space in landfills and could save our planet. So be smart about what you consume, and be realistic with how much you take.

Being eco-friendly takes little to no effort, and only requires simple fixes in your everyday life. But, every single person needs to partake in these changes, because everyone's part in this process matters. If we continue to just watch the world wither away and hope that someone else will take action, the world will never get better. Each and every person, me and you included, needs to take steps to care for and fix the mess we have made. So if you are going to post on Instagram about your love of the environment, promote how we can change the environment. Use your platform for education and entertainment, because every person matters and every action helps.

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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 End Of The World As We Know It Might Be Closer Than We Think

Well, if we continue to put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at our current rate, scientists predict we are currently on track to exceed 1.5C of warming between 2030 and 2052, and by 3C by the end of the century.

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Scientists in the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii have just made a very shocking discovery. It is an organization that is known for releasing daily CO2 rates in the atmosphere, made up of a group from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On may 12th they tweeted out what the CO2 rates in the atmosphere are, and it shocked the environmental community. The .measure of CO2 in the atmosphere was found to currently be over 415 parts per million (ppm).

To put this into perspective, levels haven't been this high in the past 800,000 years... Why is this so startling? There is no end in sight.

The levels continue to rapidly rise as humans continue to advance and adapt. In March 1958 the same observatory in Hawaii recorded levels of 313ppm; a number significantly lower. Why is all of this so bad you may ask? An increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere has a direct correlation with increased atmospheric temperatures. Our current CO2 levels are getting close to what they were during the mid-Pliocene epoch nearly two million years ago.

During this time the atmosphere was nearly 2-3 degrees Celsius hotter than normal, which had devastating effects on the planet. If our atmosphere were to even raise just 2 degrees Celcius life as we know it would change forever. The arctic will and its ice will melt causing devastating floods to thousands of cities, deadly heat waves and fires will become more frequent, and our livestock and animals would suffer a serious blow due to loss of land and resources. As you can see, just two degrees Celsius can cause a near doomsday-like scenario.

So... will it happen? Well, if we continue to put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at our current rate, scientists predict we are currently on track to exceed 1.5C of warming between 2030 and 2052, and by 3C by the end of the century. This sounds terrifying, however, we as humans have the power to make a change. If the world powers join together and recognize this issue as a potentially catastrophic event, things will change. Not only that, everyone must do a better job of trying to reduce their daily CO2 emissions. It is important that we realize how serious of an issue this potentially is before we can do anything. Not just us here at Rutgers. But for us as a planet.

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