Change your lifestyle, change the world

What you can do to help out Mother Nature

By Percy Mohn

Elm Staff Writer

Under the looming threat of climate change, it is easy for people to become discouraged about whether any change can be done. We look to people like Greta Thunberg, who are protesting and fighting the world’s governments to combat this threat, and wonder if there is anything we as ordinary citizens can do to help. Are we too late?

These questions can often lead to people feeling so powerless they develop “eco-anxiety.” In an article from BBC on eco-anxiety, Dave Fawbert details the symptoms from the American Psychological Association, also known as the APA. The APA lists symptoms as “feelings of loss, helplessness, and frustration,” in addition to a “chronic fear of environmental doom.” Not only is climate change affecting our planet, but it is deeply affecting our mental health too.

What can we do in the face of such a looming threat? How can we help? Can we help?

There is a lot we can do to help our planet. The first thing you can do is to change your habits by becoming more mindful about what you buy and throw away. Pay attention to the things that you are buying. For example, if you find yourself buying a lot of plastic water bottles, try buying a reusable one. The process of manufacturing plastic emits large amounts of greenhouse gases, so reducing the amount of plastic we produce can go a long way in helping the planet.

In that same vein, recycling is a must. Be careful with what you throw away and always check to see if you can recycle something. Typically, you can recycle most plastic, paper, and glass, along with some electronics. If you are not sure if you can recycle something, it is usually a quick Google search away.

Recycling is important because recycling does not emit large amounts of greenhouse gases and it allows for reusability in other products we consume. However, Jeff McMahon of Forbes states that it is important to first attempt to “reduce and reuse before recycling” as recycling is still carbon intensive.

It is important to note that Washington College only recycles 1 and 2 plastics. states that 1 plastics, PETE, plastics which include soft drink bottles and fruit juice bottles, while 2 plastics are along the lines of milk jugs and shampoo bottles. If you still are not sure, most recycling bins around campus have guides on what you can and cannot recycle.

Additionally, consider composting as composting not only helps to grow healthier plants, but according to the University of California, it helps to save water and reduce what gets thrown into landfills. Here at WC we have a composting club, and you can compost at the campus garden.

In our own lives, we also contribute to the production of greenhouse gases through our high usage of energy, such as through usage of cars and energy in our houses. While driving your car is always the easiest option, try taking public transport if possible or try riding your bike if your destination is not that far of a ride. If you do not have a bike here at WC, SEB has a bike share where you can rent a bike for a week. I personally prefer riding my bike or walking places because it helps me exercise as well.

If you are home during the day, try turning off the lights and opening windows. Not only is natural light enough to keep your house well-lit, it also is much healthier to sit in natural light as opposed to artificial light. When it is nighttime, try to turn off the lights in rooms you are currently not occupying. In addition, try to unplug any electronics you are not currently using. Turning off your lights helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that power plants produce trying to power our homes.

While we can do a lot in our own lifestyles to prevent climate change, the most important thing we can do is educate ourselves and speak out for our planet. Every climate change activist is an ordinary citizen working to save our planet from climate change. Speak out on social media, show people what you are doing to stop climate change. You just might inspire someone else to change their own lifestyle.

There is a lot to be done, but if we all work on bettering ourselves, we can better the planet too.

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