Did you know that April 22, 2015 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day? Since the annual event dedicated to sustainability is all about doing good—and since Siena is committed to building a more just, peaceable and humane world—we thought we'd share a few ways high school students can make an eco-friendly difference this week. (Without spending money or flying to Scotland to study rural sustainable development with our students.) Get started!
1. Use both sides of your paper. Get this: paper makes up 27 percent of municipal solid waste...more than any other material that Americans toss out! Do your part by setting your printer to print double-sided documents and by using both sides of your spiral-bound paper as you jot down notes in English class.
2. Join a few digital movements. On earthday.org, you can sign a climate petition to save the world, send a message to your members of Congress in support of environmental education, pledge to reduce your energy consumption and much more. It only takes a few minutes of your time and a computer, so why not? (While you're at it, take the Ecological Footprint Quiz and follow @EarthDayNetwork on Twitter for more tips.)
3. Group your errands together. Have to pick up new cleats for you, get cold cuts for Mom, hit up the car wash and drive your little sister to the movies? Do it all in one evening, if possible. You'll save on gas, reduce your carbon footprint and free up your time the rest of the week.
4. Turn off your computer. When your homework is complete and your social media perusing is done for the day, switch off your computer before heading to bed rather than letting your screensaver take over for the night. And speaking of energy, get your parents in on the go-green mission by encouraging them to get an energy audit. "Most utility companies offer them free or close to free," Shel Horowitz, green business profitability expert and author, told us. "Last time we did one, they gave us hundreds of dollars worth of LED light bulbs and picked up 2/3 of the cost of reinsulating."
5. Get outside and plant something. Time to get your hands dirty. According to plant-something.org, one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. They equate that to 11,000 miles of car emissions! No idea how to begin? Ask a parent or a neighbor with a green thumb; they'll love showing you what to do.
6. Go vegetarian for the night. We asked Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RDN, author of The Smart Girl's Guide to Going Vegetarian and blogger at www.smartgirlveg.com for her input here. She said: "You don't have to make a life-long commitment to going meatless to make a difference. In fact, eating vegetarian just one day a week is enough to help decrease your environmental impact by reducing your carbon footprint and cutting the amount of water and fossil fuels you're using up. And who knows—maybe you'll find some meat-free meals you love, and will be more inclined to eat a plant-powered diet more often."
7. Make your deposit online. If you were accepted to Siena's Class of 2019, we invite you to make your deposit online and officially enroll for next fall. Now the benefits of taking that action are too long to list in this post, but if you're an avid reader of our blog, you're well aware that Siena offers the education of a lifetime! (Plus, green is one of our colors.)