Making a Difference for Mother Earth

April 18, 2013

Old Mother Earth, the giver of life and home to us all, is constantly being threatened. Women from all over the country have taken the lead to start new green initiatives within their organizations to help make a difference in their communities. First Lady Michelle Obama recruited the help of Monticello's Garden Curator, Peter Hatch, to help start an organic garden at the White House. And even here at the University of Virginia our own Kendall Singleton took on the role as Sustainability Coordinator with dining services when she saw that their waste and carbon footprint needed reforming.

These are all remarkable stories of what remarkable women have done to make a difference. So what can the rest of us do to really make an impact of change? This year for Mother Earth Day (April 22nd) let us focus on what each and every one of us can do now. Learning achievable goals today can help us change some of our bad energy wasting habits, which alone may not make a difference but collectively can make a difference.

Being a student living on your own for the first time poses many challenges. With a limited budget, school, roommates, friends and a part-time job occupying your time, it's hard to stop and make a conscientious effort to ensure that the paper is separated from the cardboard. So for the sake of simplicity and with a renewed effort to commit to making a difference this Earth Day, here is a list of simple things we can all learn to make a habit of doing. At the end of the day it's the simple things that make all the difference.

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room. If it's a nice bright sunny day, open the blinds. I'm always surprised by how simple and yet easily forgotten a habit this one is.
  • Unplug chargers and devices not being used. Mostly anything plugged into an outlet draws energy. It might seem insignificant, but collectively and overtime can account for a lot of wasted electricity.
  • Freecycle. Not quite the same of recycling, Freecycle is an online community of people committed to keeping good quality stuff out of the landfill. If you don't need something, give it away. If you need something, ask for it.
  • Support companies that have environmental efforts. Do some research and purchase goods and do business with companies that are making an effort to save energy and make environmental contributions.
  • Walk, carpool and take public transportation. Most of you do this anyways, but it seems all too easy to suddenly want to drive a block down the street when you do have a car at your disposal.
  • Recycle! Electronics, batteries, cloths, etc… can all have a life after they are long outdated. Be informed about what could and should not go into the trash.

Also, be sure to come by the Women's Center (the "Corner Building" at the intersection of 14th St. & University Ave.) on Earth Day this Monday, April 22nd between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to pick up a pledge card. Take a study break and simply write a specific thing that you will pledge to do on the card and keep it as a daily reminder of your goals. Get a snack while you're here! So what will you commit to do to help the environment this year?

By Jyle Dupuis
Image courtesy of The White House Blog 

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