Reduce, Reuse, and Reuse—the mnemonic that helps us remember how to save our planet. However, if you look inside our trash cans, and you will find empty water bottles, unused paper and milk cartons—all items that can be recycled. Recycle bins, ironically, are filled with half-bitten apples and used tissues which should all be trashed. Most Stuyvesant students are unconcerned with the proper disposal of garbage, much less the importance of recycling.
“I think most students recycle every once in a while, but don’t make a habit of it. Part of it is inconvenience: I’ve got an empty bottle in my hand and I don’t want to wander around with it, so I’ll just dump it here in the trash. The other reason, I think, is that students sometimes simply don’t look where they’re throw things,” senior and vice president of Stuy Environmental Tai Wei Guo said.
The Stuy Environmental Club has taken the initiative to inform Stuyvesant about the importance of being environmentally conscious. In the beginning of the year, they partnered with Stuy2o and created signs to post above garbage bins, making it easier for people to identify appropriate garbage disposals. However, the project has not been as fruitful as they had hoped.
“We don’t know the extent to which this has been effective, as we still see trash mixed in with the recyclables. This is a big problem, because the whole bag is not recycled unless it is resorted afterward,” senior and president of Stuy Environmental Cindy Yao said.
They are hoping to organize a future project to reorient the recycle bins and redesign posters to make it more convenient and easier for students to recycle. “We are also trying to start up an Energy Patrol that involves students switching lights off after school,” Guo said.
The Stuy Environmental club is active in raising awareness about environmental issues, but it is up to each individual to be proactive. The first step in solving these issues is to be informed. Our natural resources are limited and “we’re using up natural resources at an incredible rate, much faster than they can possibly be replenished naturally,” Guo said. To help preserve these natural resources, we must follow the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
“Recycling as an industrial process is a means of getting the most out of the materials we take from the Earth. By taking manufactured and used goods, breaking them down, and remanufacturing them to be used again,” Yao said.
The Stuy Environmental Club is already making an effort to help us recycle, but there are many other ways to help make the planet greener. Aside from the usual “bring your own water bottles” and “use both sides of a paper,” here are ten ways to help the environment:
1. Recyle Ink Cartridges
Stores, such as Staples and Best Buy, offer bins for you to drop off used ink cartridges. These cartridges are refilled and resold, saving material and energy.
2. Buy Used Books or Go to the Library
Most of the time, we read books only once or twice. Instead of wasting paper and money, you can buy books at a cheap price or read it for free and still enjoy the benefits of reading the book. When you resell the book or return it, you allow other people to read the book as well.
3. Exercise outside instead of in the gym
Go run outside. Play Frisbee or volleyball. Not only is it more fun, but you save energy as well.
4. Use Blu-Ray Discs instead of DVDs
Blu-Ray Discs are made with 50% paper, so they are recycled more easily. They also store more data than traditional discs do, and thus, minimize material usage.
5. Reuse materials to make jewelry and accessories
Learn to make earrings out of soda cans and wallets out of scrap paper or fabric. You can even start a business out of it!
6. Buy Tickets Online
The print paper used at home is more eco-friendly than the paper material used to print tickets. You also save time and skip the long line at the box office.
7. Skip the canned fruits and go for fresh
Not only do fresh fruits save energy and resources, they taste better too! Try to choose local and/or organic as much as possible to reduce transportation time and unnecessary manufacture of chemical fertilizers.
8. Put your computer to sleep mode
Turning the computer on and off actually uses more energy than just putting it on sleep mode, contrary to popular belief. Waking up the computer requires less energy than booting up the computer entirely; it’s also faster!
9. Subscribe to online newspapers instead of buying them
You can save paper and reduce transportation energy expenditure. Some newspapers even send bonus articles for subscribing online.
10. Unplug Chargers
Even if you are not charging anything, your chargers still draw out electricity. Make sure you unplug them when they are not in use.
Saving the planet is not about wearing a cape and rescuing dead plants. It’s a result of a cumulative effort. As hackneyed as it sounds, every little bit counts. If we all took two seconds more to locate a recycle bin and throw our water bottles in there, we contribute to making our Earth a greener and happier place.