Thursday, April 29, 2010

College Students: What a Waste

By Demelza Davies

During the month of April, an online survey was conducted in hopes of receiving fresh information about college students' behaviors and how they may affect the environment. Forty responses later, it is proven that your average student's actions result negatively towards our planet Earth. For example, out of the people (mostly were students) who took the survey, 71% drive or have driven a car. This percentage is not surprising as the car is a basic necessity to most. Most of the questions were geared to college students so that they can evaluate their lifestyle and how friendly or unfriendly it is to the environment. Questions concerning laundry, smoking, and coffee consumption were asked to bring about the awareness that no matter how insignificant a lifestyle choice may seem, it can greatly affect the environment negatively. The percentages presented in this report are mere results of a survey that was taken online. In this survey of 40, 83% of the takers were college students between the ages 18 and 25.

The Impact of the Automobile
Cars are a necessity to a college students lifestyle and 71% of students drive cars on a daily basis to travel to class work or home. To fight the over indulgence on gas emissions colleges such as Ramapo College have incorporated public shuttles for their students to serve those without a car and hopefully to encourage others to use the shuttle rather than their vehicle. By using public transportation, there will automatically be a sudden decrease in the pollution that goes into the air. The Ramapo College shuttle is free for Ramapo students and visits the local shopping square (Ramsey Interstate Plaza) as well as the train station and bigger malls. If your school or institution doesn't have a shuttle, carpooling is an option to take into consideration. You spend less on gas when splitting it with people and its no fun riding in a car by yourself anyway. Start a carpooling sign up program at your school; it can be a great way to meet people in your hometown.

Snack Time
Having a healthy granola bar in between classes is a great way to be energized for your studies. But what are you planning to do with your wrapper? Sure you can throw it in the garbage but what happens to the trash? It sits in a landfill is what happens. To help decrease the amount of trash that ended up in the landfills, try not buying the individually wrapped snacks. Go for the family size option. You can get a pound of granola for an economize rate compared to the wrapped bars. Just place the portion you want in a Tupperware container. In the end you will be saving money and helping the environment.

Would you like a Grande or a Venti?
Coffee is a big thing for college students. We not only want it, but need it. However, the impact the disposable coffee cups, stirrers, and lids have on the environment is detrimental. Not only college students but most people use disposable coffee materials. It is better and cheaper to either make your own coffee or purchase an inexpensive travel mug. Most coffee places such as Starbucks even added a small discount to those who use a travel mug rather than a disposable mug. The same goes for bottled water. People have been afraid of tap water for years, but honestly, as long as you live in an area with a decent reservoir, drinking bottled water is purely a fad and a waste of money. In fact, a lot of people are unaware of the added chemicals you are ingesting through the plastic of the bottle. So when you purchase your travel mug, don't forget to pick up a reusable water bottle.

Toilet Paper

We flush things down our septic tanks multiple times a day. It is an accepted practice in our society, however, the environment does not want to accept our waste and the paper, so to make a
compromise let's change the paper. First off, ladies, don't flush your feminine products down the toilet, the box may say flush-able, but that tampon can block the pipes and create a real problem. Also, it is just added litter to the earth. Use a garbage receptacle. Place it discreetly in your bathroom and empty it when needed. When it comes to the toilet paper, try to only purchase brands that are chlorine-free and made from recycled materials. It is ideal to not flush anything down the toilet, but let's take it one step at a time.

Don't be such a Butt
It is common knowledge that cigarette smoke pollutes the air. But has anyone noticed the amount of cigarette butts that aren't discarded in the proper receptacles? Approximately 30% of North Americans are smokers and I can guess that each of them, in some point of their life, has tossed a butt on the grass without a second thought. Cigarettes are a danger to the environment even before they are created. Millions of acres of land are needed to grow the crops and a lot of energy is used. It would be great if everyone quit smoking, but unfortunately that is not possible and smoking remains as a stress relief for many. It is understandable that smoking is addictive and some people just can't go cold turkey and sometimes places do not offer the proper receptacle for ash and butts. What I suggest is to purchase a portable ash tray. They are really handy and only cost a couple of dollars. They come in various designs so that you don't feel your fashion has been compromised. The idea is that they trap in the ash and when you are able to get to a garbage receptacle you empty it out like a pencil sharpener.

Please take the responsibility to properly throw out your butts and try smoking in a private indoor place. Just be wary that second hand smoking is still at risk so in order to protect your friends and family keep the smoke to yourself and use a smoke eater or an air purifier. Smoke eaters can be expensive, but it is easy to go online and find one at the best price. Also consider it an investment especially if you're a heavy smoker because these babies make your living space and fresh and clean smelling as if you don't smoke at all.

Perfume and its fancies
Many people don't know that 95% of perfumes and colognes and other products that give off a scent (i.e. cleaning fluids) are made from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are hazardous to the environment and approximately 70% of college students use perfume. While a lot of people feel it's important to have a nice smelling body, they need to be aware of the consequences. Honestly, just investing in scented body wash is just as beneficial to smelling nice and is better for the environment. Or instead of spraying, just open the bottle and use little dabs; you don't need that much anyway.

Similar to water bottles, the added plastic used in disposable eating utensils add to the landfills. What is getting popular in the work and school environment is using reusable lunch packs including reusable plates and knives and forks. This is a big money saver and you put less plastic into the environment.

Washing machines
The survey conveys that everyone who participated uses a washing machine and dryer at least once a week. But that is not necessary to what our clothing really needs. People don't understand that if you hang up your clothing when you wear them after a day, they are just as good to wear the next day (you don't have to of course). If you hang up jeans after each day you wear them, they can be washed as little as once every six weeks. That is, considering that you shower every day and don't do strenuous activities while wearing them. By limiting the amount of times you use a washing machine, you use less water and energy and your clothes don't get worn as quickly, because they are washed less. Not everyone has the time to be devoted to the environment. If you make small changes to your every day life, the environment can be helped and save one water bottle at a time. A lot of people may think that their actions are insignificant to the environment and one cigarette butt won't make a difference. But if 76% of people use disposable eating utensils, imagine if they opted to switch to real silverware. That could make a world of difference. Overall, what the environmentalists are doing is a great impact, but what an every day person could be doing would be a greater one.


Coffee Mug Cartoon Image taken from Visit for other funny cartoon images on various subjects.

Toilet Paper Image
taken from It is a site about various issues including governmental.
Naked Butts Image
Image taken from the Surfers Against Sewage website ( This organization works hard to maintain clean beaches.
Portable Ashtray Image taken from

Demelza Davies is a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She is an aspiring author who likes music, reading, and of course writing. She will be receiving her Bachelors Degree in Communications with a focus on writing and music in August of 2010.

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