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Earth Week 2015: How you can help

Every year, we celebrate Earth Day on April 22 to mark the anniversary of a movement that started in 1970. The founder, Gaylord Nelson, then a US Senator of Wisconsin, thought of the idea after the 1969 massive oil spills in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement (much of which started here at Berkeley), he realized that by introducing sustainability into the public conscience, he would be able to force politicians to pay attention to environment protection. As a result, on the 22nd of April, thousands across the nation took to the streets to raise awareness about sustainability, and hundreds of protests were organized. The movement lives on today as Earth Day, and, more recently, has been extended to Earth Week.

You don’t have to plant a forest, or save the whales, to make a difference this Earth Week. Starting small can make a tremendous difference if everyone pitches in. Here are some ways you can help:

1. Cancel your paper bills and switch to online bills. This can save 23 pounds of wood and 29 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

2. Rather than visiting a large grocery store chain, buy locally produced sustainable food.

3. Get into the habit of carrying around a reusable mug for coffee or tea. This way you’ll always have it handy whenever you need a pick-me-up.

4. Go vegetarian once a week. Did you know that it requires around 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef? Considering that California is in a drought, you can really help out by going meat-less as often as possible.

5. Take shorter showers, and skip baths entirely.

6. Open your windows and turn off the lights! You’ve probably heard this one before, but it can’t be said enough. Since the days are getting longer now, there’s no reason your lights should be on between the hours of 9 in the morning and 6 in the evening.

7. Start actively recycling and composting. It can be confusing knowing exactly what to put in each different trash bin, but this post from the Daily Clog can help you out with that.

8. Reevaluate your shopping choices: there are so many brands available to us, and as students, we generally pick the cheapest one. However, there’s always a way to find a balance between price and sustainability, so do some research to find the products that are the least damaging to the environment.

9. Take reusable bags when you go grocery shopping. Grocery shopping for students is a whole process, so plan it out so that you have reusable bags with you when you go.

10. Share and discuss! Share these ideas with others, and raise awareness about the environment, sustainability, and helping out in your community.

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