Organizations on campus have taken the initiative to promote more environmentally sustainable habits in recent years.
Queen’s has adopted a paperless approach to most of its official communications, and its Sustainability Office has ran events to promote healthy environmental practices and placed organic receptacles throughout campus. The common goal for these efforts is to reduce our school’s carbon footprint.
A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual or institution’s activities, expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). For instance, The Tea Room on campus is now a carbon neutral and zero consumer waste establishment, since all the CO2 emissions associated to its functioning are counterbalanced by planting trees throughout the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
The greater one’s carbon footprint is, the greater the impact of greenhouse gases. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.
Though radical changes still need to be made on a global scale to combat climate change, it’s important to consider your personal impact on the environment and to choose sustainable activities as alternatives whenever possible. If everyone were to make environmentally conscious changes to their lives, it’d limit global warming.
That said, it’s possible for students to favor more sustainable activities over environmentally harmful ones to reduce their own carbon footprint. Here are some simple ways you can alter your lifestyle to lessen your contribution to greenhouse gases.
A study from Lund University and the University of British Columbia found a single individual going carless for a year could spare approximately 2.4 tons of CO2.
When possible, opt for walking or biking, and make use of your student card for free public transportation—especially when travelling longer distances. If these options aren’t ideal, try to carpool or pick vehicles with lower emissions.
Instead of cranking the heat during chilly winter days, consider wearing warmer layers—ideally wool and eco-friendly materials rather than synthetics. Unplugging devices when not using them, turning off the lights when leaving a room, and line-drying clothes will all help you maintain sustainable habits and benefit your utilities bill.
Be sure to also turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, take colder and shorter showers—which research shows may also have some positive health benefits—and always try to reuse and recycle.
Buy local organic produce at one of Kingston’s several farmer’s markets, and limit or reduce your meat and dairy consumption since they have a much greater environmental impact than plant-based food. In this case, adopting a vegan diet is optimal.
In the summer, planting a vegetable garden is a great way to help reduce your carbon footprint, and encourage eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Finally, using reusable bags when shopping, taking home leftovers from the restaurant and composting food waste can further help reduce your carbon footprint.
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