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November 10, 2014 Comments (2) All Other Stories, Features

Ten Innovative Ways to be a Greener Wildcat

by Amanda Hermans

So we all theoretically know that we should strive to be more eco-conscious. We hear all that chatter about how our environment is harmed by many human practices, yet we often fall into the routine of simply recycling our empties, turning off our unused lights, and calling it a day. What the earth really needs is for us to step up and go the extra mile (on foot, of course). Here are a few easy things for the lazy college student to do to improve their relationship with good ol’ Mother Earth.

1. Adopt a Plant

Buy a baby plant, give it a name, and use it as a replacement for the cat that your lease won’t allow. Plants increase the air quality in a space by absorbing CO2 and promoting good air-flow. Studies have also shown that they increase productivity and attention span in workspaces. The presence of a little green in a room can give your mind a restorative break from the daily grind. They provide a bit of an indirect distraction that our brains need after crunching out thousands of equations during midterms week. Plus, watering that cactus is a great way to procrastinate studying for orgo. Plants are science, right?

2. Go To the Thrift Store

Pull a Macklemore, and buy clothes (or anything) second-hand. Or, equally as good, pull a reverse Macklemore, and sell your unused items back to a thrift store. This is really a win-win situation, because in one case you’re adding to your wardrobe at a cheap price, and in the other case you’re getting paid to give away the shit you don’t use. Either way, you are protecting the earth by keeping goods out of the landfills, and preventing industries from using the earth’s resources to produce more new goods.

3. Line Dry Your Clothes

With this one I was imagining those elaborate lines that go in-between the windows of apartments in Disney movies and the continent of Europe. But if you’re not good enough friends with your next door neighbors to string up a line, you can always buy a drying rack to go next to your wash machine. They can fold up so they don’t take up much space, plus you’ll never have to worry about accidentally shrinking your clothes again.

4. Climb Those Stairs

Count it as your work out for the day. Reward yourself with a cookie. You’re saving the world, you deserve it.

5. Kegs not Cans!

I mean I guess I’m not promoting partying, but if you do it, do it green. Those beer cans and red solo cups can add up to a lot of unnecessary waste in one crazy night. Consider a reusable, returnable keg for your beverage purposes, and play beer pong with reusable cups.

6. Green Tech

We all have smartphones, so why don’t we make Siri be green for us, just like we make her do everything else? Websites like this one have tons of useful ideas for apps that can basically do anything sustainable. There is an app that can predict your carbon footprint, one that points you in the direction of sustainable goods and projects, and one to help you save energy. Basically anything you could want, there’s an app for that, and it is super easy to take advantage of.

7. Meatless Mondays

Meat processing, packaging, and transportation takes a ton of energy and produces a large amount of carbon emissions that are bad for the environment. That being said, switching to being a straight-up vegetarian can be daunting, especially when the Tenderizer at Cheesie’s is so damn good. Going meatless one day a week can still do a lot to help cut down emissions. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Monday, the alliteration just sounds kind of cute.

8. Use Those Free Bottles!

I don’t know about you guys, but upon arriving on the Northwestern campus, I was basically showered with free water bottles. Between Welcome Week, Dance Marathon, and Dillo Day, I could basically fill a whole drawer in my room with Northwestern sponsored beverage holders. THEY’RE FREE, SO USE THEM! Enough of this disposable plastic water bottle shit, they’re annoyingly flimsy and bad for the environment.

9. Artsy Gift Wrap

The holiday season is fast approaching, so instead of buying new, plastic coated wrapping paper to wrap those fancy gifts you’re giving, use something that already exists! Paper grocery bags provide a nice clean slate for you to get creative with some markers, and who really needs to carry around all of those midterm papers that are weighing down your backpack? With some strategic folding, those papers could do a lot better of a job wrapping a gift than they ever did being your midterm.

10. Visit the Farmers Market

Farmers markets aren’t just for hipsters anymore! (Don’t worry hipsters, we know you went there first.) Take a trip to the local market, buy some food that is more delicious than Jewel and less expensive than Whole Foods, and take pride in the fact that you’re helping out your community.

Now I know many of you started reading this, but probably made it through like, number 3 before getting bored. I get it, you have the attention span of a college student. But even implementing those three things that stuck with you can really make a big difference. And if you can manage all ten (or more!!), I know for a fact that Mother Earth would really appreciate it.

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2 Responses to Ten Innovative Ways to be a Greener Wildcat

  1. Jessi says:

    Number one is my favorite!
    However, all of them are great suggestions!

  2. Saul says:

    Great ideas! You reminded me about reusable water bottles. I have so many sitting around my room, and they really could be put to good use.