Decreasing Your Ecological Footprint

Alexandria McAlpine/Fourth Estate

Small ways you can help the environment in your everyday life


April is Earth Month, a time for people around the country to pay closer attention to environmental threats such as air pollution, deforestation, climate change, waste and more.

According to an article written by ethologist and conservation biologist Professor Daniel T. Blumstein and the executive director of the Ocean Conservation Society, Charlie Saylan, “We believe that over-consumption lies at the heart of the environmental crisis, that environmental education must teach consumption control, and that ultimately we can help preserve biodiversity and our own environmental welfare by changing our consumption patterns.”

As a busy Mason student, you might not always think about your impact on the environment, but here are some helpful tips that can benefit the planet.

According to a study by National Geographic in 2015, Americans purchased nearly 346 plastic bottles per person, of which only 9 percent were recycled. However, there are many ways for students to reduce their plastic waste.

Many Mason students carry their own BPA-free water bottle, which is more practical and decreases the amount of plastic bottles used. If you do forget your reusable at home and have to buy a plastic bottle, just remember to dispose of it in the right recycling bin. All around campus, there are bins for trash and recyclable items, a technique you can apply at home.

Reusable straws are also a small but impactful way to avoid using plastic when ordering drinks from your favorite eating places both on and off campus.  

Whether students live on or off campus, when it comes to grocery shopping, carrying reusable bags or recyclable paper ones can also help reduce the waste from plastic shopping bags. Some grocery stores also have bins for recycling plastic bags.

Living in a tech-savvy world, students should take advantage of the ability to type their class notes electronically. It saves you money and it helps the environment, because almost all the raw material used to make paper comes from trees.

There are ways for students to reduce their contribution to air pollution, as well.

Riding a bike if you are able not only allows you to get across campus faster than walking, but it also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air.

Many commuters drive their own cars to Mason, but they should also consider the carpooling plan that Mason offers to students and staff. The Carpool Zone program consists of arriving between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. from Monday through Friday with two or more other students, and parking in specific areas of Lot A and Rappahannock Deck with your general parking permit.

Students looking to expand their knowledge of the environment can volunteer at a local greenhouse or other eco-friendly service organizations. This unique experience allows students to learn about eco-friendly methods of pest management, planting and the importance of having an eco-friendly environment.

Small changes in one’s behavior can have a big impact on the environment. Implement these easy steps in your daily life to decrease your waste and help create a positive impact on the world.