The United Nations issued a report last year warning that if humanity does not drastically alter its carbon usage habits by 2030, the planet will undergo an unprecedented and likely irreversible rise in global temperatures, effectively condemning humans and countless other species to ruin. Sea levels will rise several feet in a matter of years as the polar ice caps melt, tropical coral reefs will be destroyed completely, and extreme heat and natural disasters will become commonplace. In short, the world as we know it will come to an end.
2030 is 11 years from now. Our generation, then, shoulders the responsibility for mitigating climate change, as it is our generation that will suffer most from inaction.
So, how can we as students do our part? Here are seven ways.
Use pencils rather than pens.
One pencil can write about 18 times as much as one pen. Moreover, pencils are far more environmentally friendly. It takes as much oil to produce just 50 pens as it does to drive a car one mile. The plastic pens are made from takes 1,000 years to decompose, whereas most of the materials needed to produce a pencil are both sustainable and biodegradable.
Be stingy about paper.
The average American uses 700 pounds of paper products annually, which equates to more than eight trees’ worth. That a lot; evidently, any improvement would be a welcome one, and there are a few simple practices that can help limit your paper consumption while at school. Firstly, always print double-sided. Simple math dictates that this halves the amount of paper you’ll need for any given print-out. Whenever a teacher gives you the option to submit something electronically, take advantage of it, and consider taking notes on a phone or laptop if you’re able and your teacher is willing to accommodate you.
This one’s a no-brainer. Most classrooms at Obama have recycling bins (if you know of a room that doesn’t, talk to that teacher about getting one). The EPA estimates that about 45% of items that Americans throw away are recyclable. Just make sure that you pay attention to what you’re recycling—cans in the can bin, paper in the paper bin!
Consider a reusable water bottle.
Americans consume 1,733 plastic bottles of water each second. Instead of drinking your beverages via one-time-use plastic bottles, think about investing in a reusable metal bottle. It’s far more efficient, not to mention more cost-effective! There are water bottle refilling stations scattered throughout the school.
The library is your friend.
When it comes to being green, it’s always better to borrow than to buy. Whether you need a book for a class assignment or you’re just looking for something to read in your free time, make sure to utilize the school’s library. 32 million trees are chopped down to print 2 billion books each year in America; it’s incredibly wasteful to buy unless you absolutely have to. Once again, your wallet will thank you for this one.
Power down your phone.
It’s not exactly a well-kept secret that students use their phones during class. The detriment to one’s learning that this practice brings aside, phones demand a lot of energy. Assuming everyone in America fully charges their phone once per day, over 2 billion pounds of coal are used for this purpose over the course of a year. Consider turning your phone off while at school so that you won’t have to plug it in as often.
Finish your plate.
During breakfast and lunch, try not to get food that you’re not sure you’ll end up eating. Americans waste one-third of their food, which accounts for 8 percent of total gas emissions. Bonus points if you avoid meat, since it’s by far the biggest culprit.
If everyone chips in, we might manage to stop the cold-blooded murder of Mother Nature that we’re all currently complicit in before it’s too late. The above suggestions are extremely easy to implement into your daily routine. They’re also extremely necessary—unless you’d like to be underwater in a decade, in which case, by all means, carry on.