On being green

| Staff Columnist

Plenty of people, especially university students, quickly jump to “green” and “sustainable” movements. The term “environmental” has become somewhat of a buzzword, and from compact fluorescent light bulbs to winter insulation, more and more environmental choices have become available to the end user. Despite this, however, I find it highly troubling that people don’t look to changing their daily lives to reduce their environmental footprint. Most, including myself for quite some time, are content to environmentally optimize the things around them, such as their house and car, without actually changing the steps in their daily lives—but that’s where the good stuff is. At the end of the day, the best way to substantively reduce one’s environmental output (and save some cash at the same time) is to change the minor things that seem trivial yet increase carbon output.

One such improvement comes from the moment you wake up and go to the bathroom. Shaving takes up quite a bit of resources, from the pressurized can of ozone-depleting chemicals to the plastic-laden (and blatantly expensive) cartridges. Switching to a single-bladed safety razor available online and at some drugstores can cut your resource use to a single thin slice of highly recyclable aluminum; at a dollar for a pack of 10, you can save somewhere in the realm of 100 dollars a year. Exchanging the bottle of pressurized goo for a shaving brush and a puck of shaving soap saves even more on wasted material. Switching from deodorant to a block of alum, available at some Middle Eastern and Indian shops as well as online, also cuts back on chemicals filled with parabens, harmful chemicals that can lower the pH of freshwater. And a block that’ll last at least three months is available for two dollars. Heck, even wiping your hands on a towel instead of using paper towels can cut down carbon use significantly.

Of course, my goal is not to compile an exhaustive list of wasteful habits picked up over the years. It’s rather that in order to change individual environmental impact, one has to make changes across the board. Buying a fuel-efficient car is a start but is only the beginning of a process to reduce energy consumption, and regrettably, most overlook the little things that ultimately add up and cause severe problems. Making these changes is all too easy; it is simply a matter of realizing the amount of resource consumption and getting informed on the issue. The best part? Even if you think that environmental issues are overrated and resource consumption isn’t a big deal, everyone can appreciate saving cash—and at the end of the day a couple of extra greenbacks never hurt anyone.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.