Four ways to be eco-conscious as a student

Milé Pinero recycles her water bottle. Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
(Photo by: Keishla Galán)
Milé Pinero recycles her water bottle. Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (Photo by: Keishla Galán)

Written by: Olivia Fisher

Climate anxiety might be something you’re experiencing if you chose to read this article, and that is fine, good even. It means you’re concerned about the state of the world right now, and your body is emulating that. The negative side-effects of climate anxiety don’t exactly make up for this, though. So, here I am to help you get out of that mental-funk and help the community around you. 

First, it’s important to realize that you cannot single-handedly solve this problem. I know that might sound scary, but there are steps that everybody can take on the individual level to help make an impact on the ecological state. 

To combat climate anxiety, you can post about your concerns online, or you can repost things that you find interesting on other people’s accounts. I know that this might not sound like a big impact, but it spreads awareness to your friends and family who might not know what is going on otherwise. This can also help build a sense of community around the people you know and who are concerned about the same things you are. 

Since spring is already here, spring cleaning might be on your mind. Besides cleaning your room, there is much more you can do for your community with stuff you have, but might not need. There are numerous shelters in the Chattanooga area that could benefit from that random can of soup on your shelf that you never ate, or that body wash that you bought but didn’t really like the smell of. 

Chattanooga Room in the Inn, the Maranatha Rescue Mission and Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga are just some shelters that you can donate to. You do not have to make a big show or donate hundreds of dollars’ worth of stuff to make an impact. These shelters simply need things you might have an excess of. If you have cleaning products, hygiene products or an excess of toiletries, these people could really use them. Everybody benefits from this; you get to enjoy a cleaner space, and the shelters get to provide for their people in need. 

Another way you can help is by getting involved with cleaning up your community. You could organize a clean-up of a local park or highway through a school club or on your own. 

If you do not want to organize one by yourself or with friends, Southern has many different service projects already planned that you can help with (and you might receive service-learning or community service credit as a bonus, too). This also creates opportunities to socialize and make friends with people who share the same interests. 

If you are feeling particularly unmotivated, here are some steps that you can take just from your room. You can call your local representatives and let them know your opinions about the policies they support and what they should do to help the climate crisis. 

You can also reuse what you already have. Instead of buying single-use plastic, you can use the silverware or plates you may already have in your room or reuse the plastic water bottle on your desk. You do not have to go out and purchase a bunch of stuff to be eco-friendly — you can just reuse what you have without creating excess waste. 

As you take these steps towards becoming more eco-friendly, it is important to remember that you won’t be perfect all the time. Even making small strides towards using less plastic or eating less meat is making an impact. Remember to be kind to yourself and know that no one can be perfect all the time.

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