Green thumbs up: Give green a chance

A little goes a long way when going green.

Elena Deeter, Senior Columnist

Forget the sad polar bears crying on their melting ice, the penguins with their necks stuck in the plastic of the six pack for your cheap watered down beer, and the doomed bees, let’s talk about you.

To clarify, by “you”, I don’t mean those of you who think global climate change is a bunch of bologna; this article isn’t for you. What you need is to grab the climate change documentary, “This Changes Everything,” and smack yourself in the face with it.

This article is for the people who care but don’t think there’s anything they can realistically do that will make a difference. For the people who think that what they do won’t affect the earth directly. What’s one can in the trash? What difference would it really make to buy a reusable bag instead of using plastic? Give yourself more credit. Here’s how to be a greener person, without spending more money, changing your lifestyle, or giving up what you love. This is how to be green for dummies.

I don’t think that any of my tips will surprise anyone, they are here to remind you of some easy changes you might have forgotten.

Paper or Plastic?

Surprise, surprise, plastic is bad. Cutting plastic altogether, is unrealistic and inconvenient. Buy a reusable water bottle and if you ever forget one just use the bubbler. It’s not that hard. You’ll save money, and eventually when more and more people start buying reusable water bottles, those single use water bottle companies will go out of business.

Hayley Peterson of Business Insider says, “Starbucks sells 4 billion paper cups annually, and most of them are never recycled.” What that means is, even if you recycle that Starbucks cup, it may not be recycled. There’s a plastic lining in the cups that’s purpose is to prevent leakage. That lining is only taken out if enough of those cups are being recycled which would justify running machines to do so. Just bring a mug or thermos with you, if you need your coffee to go. It saves materials and sometimes depending on the shop, it saves you money!

Understand single use plastic and try, try, try to reduce the use. What is single use plastic? Plastic bags, candy wrappers, straws, food packaging, bathroom and beauty products, etc. This is probably the hardest one to manage. We all love our snacks, and when they are individually wrapped it’s just so much easier.

Reducing this waste can simply mean buying in bulk. Instead of getting 10 small bags of almonds, get one, or start buying them in bulk at the market and bring your own bags.

Make some of your own food, like bread and pastries if you have time. It’s cheaper, tastier, and you’re using less single use plastic. Jeff Bridges is against single use plastic, and everyone wants to be Jeff Bridges.

I have reduced my paper waste (and saved money) drastically by cutting out paper towels almost completely. Lots of countries just use cloths and tea towels for messes. It’s easy to clean, you just add it to your weekly (or in my case monthly) load of laundry. It saves lots of money and waste, and it makes you look fancy as heck.


This may be a hard one to understand but oh my lord, just don’t take unnecessarily long showers and stop letting your faucets drip.


Obviously planes, trains and automobiles aren’t good for the environment, but we live in the cold depressive state of Minnesota so walking and biking isn’t always doable. Carpool, duh. Plan grocery trips with your friends, rides to classes, etc.


If you’ve already been thinking about it, go vegetarian. The meat industry is one of the largest contributors to global climate change. Yeah, they suck. But for us bacon lovers, dropping meat seems like an impossible task. Simply eat less meat. Try being a weekday or weekend vegetarian, while still enjoying your blood-dripping meats on occasion. It’s actually the same price, sometimes cheaper to eat vegetarian proteins, contrary to what people believe.

Be aware of what you are buying. Look up brands and their ethics. Tyson isn’t worth buying, and if it’s the same price, look for the frog. The Rainforest Alliance brand is pretty awesome, and they try to make it obtainable for any class to purchase and enjoy.

If you know anyone who composts, ask to join in! Composting is awesome; you wouldn’t believe how many delicious fresh fruits and veggies get thrown out on a daily basis. Check out John Oliver’s piece on food waste.

My biggest advice on going green, especially to those already advanced and looking at this article as a waste of time, is: don’t guilt people. When you yell at your friends for throwing away plastic or judge them for eating meat, you don’t make them want to quit. Think about when your elders told you to stop watching TV. You best believe you tried with all your might to watch hours of mindless television shows.

Guilting only makes you seem like an “eco jerk” rather than a wise eco wizard. Instead, practice what you preach with grace, and soon your friends will follow.

Any small step is a step toward a better future with happier polar bears, penguins and bees. It’s not too late.