By Ann Shelley// Opinion Editior
Our world is slowly falling apart and it’s all due to us and all the pollutants we put into the air. Luckily there are many ways to help prevent worsening climate change. However, it is still happening. The earth is dying because of us. Climate change is affecting more than just the weather: glaciers melt, trees flower sooner, animal range shifts, etc. We have seen many changes like restaurants not using straws anymore for their cups. Some places have even banned the unnecessary drinking tool. Starbucks has even switched over to sippy-cups that can be used without a straw. Why is this important? Because the millions of straws that are used at the convenience of Americans go straight into landfills and eventually can end up in the open. Wildlife is mistaking these straws for food and has recently become a top priority. Many individuals are trying to come up with ideas that get rid of the plastic and help reuse them. Thus, metal straws were born. Metal straws are reusable and help reduce the number of plastic straws entering landfills and falling into our oceans.
If you are not aware of what is going on in our world, you can watch many documentaries explaining the challenges our planet is currently facing on Netflix. “Cowspiracy” is one documentary that describes how producing meat affects climate change as a whole. If you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend it. It opened my eyes to how much we are impacting the environment just on a meat production scale. Farming is responsible for millions of carbon dioxide emissions. If many individuals were to go vegetarian, it could reduce the carbon dioxide emissions by half.
Another good way to help the environment is to refuse bags at a grocery store, bring reusable one instead. The plastic is such a waste and they give it in excess. As a former grocery bagger myself, I remember I was always so thankful when people brought their own bags because, in Wisconsin, it was only a set few of customers that would go to the trouble. Plastic bags break down into the soil and release toxic chemicals which can kill the animals. Plastic bags clutter our oceans. Turtles are just one of many species that often mistake this plastic for other marine species such as jellyfish. This plastic is then eaten and consumed by sea-life who mistake it for food.
Another simple yet impactful change is washing your hands with a hand towel instead of paper towels. Unlike paper products, cloth can be used again and again. Paper towels come with a hefty production cost and negative environmental consequences due to the methane, a greenhouse gas being omitted during creation. Paper towels are produced from trees. Every time a disposable towel is used, we are exercising a valuable and limited resource that has a more significant purpose than to wipe down counter surfaces. If every family were to use one less roll of paper towels a year over 500,000 trees could be saved.
One big thing you can practice in college to help with the environment is carpool. High Point University is such a small campus. It is walkable, so avoid taking cars as much as possible. Cars give off carbon emissions and create noise pollution that hurt our environment. When driving is unavoidable, the next best thing you can do is switch to an eco-friendly car. Cars that are hybrids use an electric or hydrogen engine that saves a lot on gas, a benefit for the planet and your coin purse.
Overall, there are so many ways you can help reduce and reuse to help the environment around you. Pick up litter, take small food portions, use reusable water bottles. Recycle aluminum cans and plastic bottles; it can save enough energy to keep lit a light for an hour. Always reuse your clothes, sell them to thrift stores, donate them to a Goodwill near you, or a worthy cause. We all need to work together to reduce our waste and help work towards a more sustainable environment. It is the only home we have so we should do anything we can to maintain it.
We should be using water bottles, like Swell, that are reusable, instead of wasting plastic. Photo By Ann Shelley.