Environmentalism can often be polarizing. While I think it’s important to be loud sometimes, some people will always be annoyed by ridiculous antics. I know I’m personally appalled every time I see an absurd People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-style protest, and I haven’t had meat in ages. I usually think it’s wiser to give people positive incentives to change their behavior instead of going nude, covering myself in fake blood and pretending to be a package of meat. Then again, I don’t think that would be a good look for me, anyway.
There are a few roadblocks I frequently hear from people who don’t consider themselves “green” or environmentalists of any sort. The most common is usually a fear of coming off as too radical, too outwardly political or even seeming like a “hippie” of some sort. Others include the perception that it costs too much or the notion that making Earth-conscious life choices and belief in a certain phenomena are inseparable. That is, that in order to be an environmentalist, you must adhere to practice X, support policy Y and believe in theory Z.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in climate change, and I hate destructive policies. I just think sometimes it’s more important to stress some more “convenient truths.” Here’s a short briefing of some ways to conserve resources and money.
Turn it off.
It may sound cliché, but one of the best simple things you can do for the environment and for your utilities bill is to turn things off when you are done with them. Water and energy conservation savings can add up to great savings during the course of an entire year. Even if you live in a dorm, it still pays to conserve.
With Temple’s state funding gradually diminishing and tuition costs always rising, it is never a bad idea to conserve the university’s energy. Consider it your own energy while you’re living on Main Campus. The less money Temple needlessly wastes on utilities, the more money Temple has to put back into your experience or to help offset cost increases. Going green isn’t always about the environment, it’s often a matter of economics.
What’s more depressing: The frigid North Philadelphia winter or the insane heating bill that often accompanies the aforementioned climate crisis? I’m not sure, but my remedy is to buy blankets and jackets. Replacing hours of heating use with the purchase of durable, warm blankets and reliable winter clothing can help you save money during a long period of time.
Don’t be ashamed to avoid turning on that heating knob, plenty of people avoid climate control addiction. Developing the ability to stay warm without heating is crucial to a good frugal lifestyle, and frugality is often a must for recent graduates. Just don’t use “hibernation” as an excuse when your Intellectual Heritage professor e-mails you asking why you keep skipping class.
Whenever you can, reuse what you have. Not only will this help save money, but you’ll also reduce overall demand for disposable garbage. Our cultural image of reuse is often just that of shopping bags and water bottles. These are great places to start, but you can go steps further. Consider all of the seemingly disposable things you purchase on a daily basis and see if you can extract further use. Reuse could be something as simple as getting two uses out of an otherwise single-use product, and as complex as using the packaging of items to create decorations or crafts. Some of the most fascinating houses and rooms I’ve been in use what would otherwise be trash to create a unique personality.
Shopping as an environmentalist can be expensive. There is often a price mark-up on “green” paper products or organic foods, among other things. Consider the roles these products play in your life. Maybe instead of buying the more expensive recycled package, you can buy the regular package and simply opt to use an entirely reusable replacement more often. Maybe you are used to using paper plates or paper towels all of the time. Perhaps you should consider purchasing some more washable plates and towels instead. Maybe buy some durable plastic tumblers instead of using Toby Keith’s favorite disposable Solo Cups at all of your “social gatherings.” These savings could be the difference between being able to enjoy “disgusting” and “marginally acceptable” beverages.
Another great “green” way to shop is to browse thrift stores. Thrift stores house “gently used” clothing, decorations, furnishings and other products at reduced rates. Interestingly, a gradual decline in the quality of most affordable clothing brands, thrift stores can often provide more durable buys than many new outfitters. It may take a while to sift through thrift store inventories, but great, cheap finds are to be had. Plus, there are many philanthropic thrift stores where your dollar can help support important causes.
I guess this is my manifesto of sorts. Keep following my portion of the “Green Space” column, and I’ll elaborate more on how you can be more effortlessly green and keep you informed of great programs going on at and around Main Campus.
For now, I have to deal with the “inconvenient truth” of class tomorrow.
Joe Hoey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.