Living green in Green and Blue Nation

Sarah Miller, Contributing writer

Of the many obstacles aggrieving our world today, none is more urgent than humanity’s incessant demands on the Earth’s resources. Though saving the environment always ranks high on surveys and polls—proof of our recognition that we need to change our lifestyles—a considerable gap exists between our good intentions and reality.

College students can have the final say when it comes to decisions, even for sustainability, on campus. As the next voices of our nation, we have to learn to be environmentally friendly in using natural resources like water, air, forests, agriculture and wildlife without damaging them. As a student body, we need to push for more environmental awareness and innovation on campus.

Colleges must be initiators of change, working in broad strokes to achieve victories for humanity and the planet we call home. However, administrators will be slow to minimize our campus’ ecological footprint if we, the students, do not voice our wishes to make a change.

I implore you to take initiative here at Mercyhurst to get involved with sustainability and the Green Team or at least begin to think green.

Do not wait for someone else to do the hard work because then we will all be looking around asking, “Why didn’t anyone do something?” when it is already too late. If we do not care about the environment, who will?

You can easily conserve energy on campus by washing clothes in cold water whenever possible, and use a drying rack or clothesline to save energy.  Try to limit the use of air conditioning and heating. This means setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs. Also, unplug appliances when you are not using them.

There are easy things you can do around campus to help reduce, reuse and recycle as well.  For example, do not litter; it is not difficult to find a trash can or recycling bin. Dispose of harmful materials properly, re-use or recycle things you no longer need and place recyclables in proper bins for pick up. Our dining hall coffee cups, for example, can go in the trash. However, the lids and sleeves can be recycled! Think of all the forests and we can save from deforestation or contamination. Imagine all the habitats of innocent animals that we are destroying by being irresponsible and neglectful.

Take reusable bags to the store with you to grocery shop instead of opting for paper or plastic. Take notes electronically rather than in notebooks when allowed so you do not waste paper.

Lastly,  be mindful of where your products come from. If you eat meat, consider adding one meatless meal a week. The livestock industry contributes more greenhouse gas emissions globally than the transportation sector, and the ecological footprint of vegetarians is estimated to be around half that of meat eaters.

Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.  Look for products and brands that are responsible in their production and cruelty-free.  Only buy used items and shop at thrift stores. This is an inexpensive, relatively effortless way to save the environment one piece of clothing at a time.

Even though it is important that individuals have the knowledge for going green, this alone will not be enough. In order actually make a difference, we all need to be willing to trade off immediate gains for long-term sustainability.

Making these choices requires connecting daily decisions to long-term consequences that all of society will have to face.

By advocating sustainability, we can not only contribute to the long term livability of the planet, but also save on operating costs and ultimately provide a better learning environment for all students.

The impact of what we are doing to our planet needs to be addressed and acted upon. Individual efforts can also make a major impact, so do what you can every day to make your life greener.