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Earth Day 2022 and student living


Earth Day! Every April 22, our Instagram feeds are filled with stunning photos of nature often taken on expensive family vacations. When these posts make their annual appearance, it becomes all too easy to get sidetracked about what Earth Day is actually about. The real importance of Earth Week is its ability to remind us about how to practice environmentally sustainable habits. Here are some St. Olaf-specific tips and tricks for living sustainably as a college student:


Ride the Bus! Don’t get me wrong, I like to complain about the long walk to student parking as much as the next person. But do you know what isn’t that far? Our conveniently located Buntrock Commons! St. Olaf and Carleton, in collaboration with Northfield Lines, have two wonderful bus routes that can get you just about anywhere in Northfield that you might like to visit. Next time you need a ride into town, to Target, or to Carleton, skip the walk to Skog and hop on the bus! 


Bring a reusable cup to the Cage! The Cage is allowing students to skip the paper cup and get drip coffee served directly into their (clean) personal mugs. BONUS: with the punch card (ask for one at the counter), buy nine coffees with your reusable mug and get the 10th for free!  


Ask for your Cage order to be “for here.” The Cage also recently purchased a plethora of reusable plates for hot food orders! If you’re planning to eat your meal in Bunt, say your order is “for here” so it’s served on a plate rather than a disposable to-go container.  


Recycle! This one may seem fairly obvious, but you’d be surprised how many aluminum cans and sheets of paper I see in the garbage bin on a daily basis. More often than not, the trash is right next to a recycling bin. If you’re not sure whether something is recyclable, check the signs posted above the bins or ask a sustainably-minded friend! After following these steps, if you’re still not sure whether an item can be recycled, go ahead and follow the golden rule of recycling — when in doubt, throw it out. 


Of course, I’m not asking that you drop everything and make the switch to a  zero-waste lifestyle, especially when just 100 companies are responsible for over 71 percent of global carbon emissions. Despite this discouraging fact, it’s important to remember that individual actions can still have a tangible positive impact. I encourage you to use this week to reflect on the areas in your life where you might be able to reduce your carbon footprint. Think of it as a way to show appreciation for the Earth and her resources!

Madeline Altman is from Portland, Ore.

Her majors are English and political science.