Small environmental efforts can make global impact

Go green? Who has time for that? Someone else will take care of it.

This is exactly what I think when someone tells me that I should be more cautious of our environment.

The problem with the “someone else will take care of it” mindset is that it’s the mentality of the majority. At some point, we have to realize that we only have one planet to inhabit.

Although America sees itself as a world leader on many issues, we are behind much of the rest of the world when it comes to envionmentalism. Americans will spend more money to save a few minutes in our day. We want more and more and want to put forth as little effort as possible.

Since the 1970s, leaders of the European Union have realized that environmental issues are not going to solve themselves and have made great strides for becoming friendlier to our planet.

In many countries, it is impractical to even own a vehicle with the vast amount of public transportation systems available. Laws in EU countries require citizens to buy a parking voucher annually in order to park anywhere in the country, including their own driveway. The vouchers vary in price depending on fuel emissions, encouraging citizens to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The EU has set many more laws in order to become greener.

Restaurants are charged more based on their use of disposable utensils and food packaging. Citizens are even charged based on the amount of garbage they dispose.

Not only are these laws set in place, but it’s easier to be environmentally friendly when it’s a social norm. In America, where the majority of people don’t care so much about the environment, we have to be more cautious than ever.

Buffalo State has been working to make its campus more environmentally aware. Policies have been put in place to prevent excessive printing and encourage recycling. However, I think the campus should also work on reducing the amount of waste, by offering options in the Union to get non-disposable plates and cups instead of wrapping every order.

So maybe you’re wondering what you can do, on a smaller scale, to help sustain the environment.

You may have heard of the three R’s of the environment: reduce, reuse and recycle. However there is a fourth one: rethink. Before buying a product, consider how long it will last and whether or not it can be reused or recycled.

The City of Buffalo’s Free Electronics Recycling Facility at 1120 Seneca St. is available for all residents to recycle their old electronics safely. Don’t throw away good stuff. Instead, use sites like Craigslist and Freecyle to get rid of it. Go to thrift stores and consignment stores to reduce consumption, you’ll be surprised what you can find.

As students, the use of paper is inevitable. However, we can cut back on tree consumption by renting textbooks, buying them used or buying them on e-readers. Also, instead of using notebooks, we can use single sheets of paper in a binder or type notes in class.

There are a lot of small things each person can do to reduce their carbon foot print. Everything adds up and I think our environment is worth the trouble. Before you buy something rethink and after you buy it, reduce, reuse or recycle it responsibly. We only have one planet.