Well…here we are…starting yet another year of school. I know it can seem a little redundant over the years, especially when entering that final stretch of college, so here’s a challenge for you in hopes of making things a bit more interesting.

I dare you to attempt to “go green” this semester. What do I mean by that? Well, let me enlighten you…

There is a lot of talk nowadays about helping the environment and enhancing the overall quality of the world. So, what’s stopping you? I know that statements such as “Save the Whales” may cause this whole phenomenon to sound like a lot of work or beyond your control, but that’s where you’re wrong. There are many things you can do this semester in order to do your part for the environment. Just in case you’re drawing a blank, here are some ideas to help get you started:

1. Carry a reusable water bottle.

  • This may seem obvious, but many people forget to do this. Not only can it help the environment by recycling the same bottle, but it can also save you a bit of cash. Have you ever been in a situation where you are simply desperate for a sip of water? I have, and many times I cannot help but to spend $1.50 on a bottle of water. Well, it may seem like a mere sum of money, but all of those $1.50’s can definitely add up. Save yourself and the ecosystem the trouble by having the convenience of a water bottle with you at all times.

2. Make recycle bins in your living area: paper, glass, plastic, aluminum.

  • It may seem annoying at first and difficult to become accustomed to, but if you start a system of recycling in your house, it can become a habit. Eventually, you will separate paper from plastic from trash naturally.

3. Buy used books

  • I do not even need to try to persuade you to buy used books instead of new books. The money you save should be reason enough.

4. Walk/bike/take public transportation to class and work.

  • If you are living on campus, plug in your iPod and simply walk or ride a bicycle to class. It can usually be a lot faster due to shortcuts, and it’s not too bad for your health, either. Walking to class can give you time to think and to be relaxed before stepping into a busy classroom. If you don’t live on campus, research the public transportation options in your city, such as buses. Or, try to coordinate a carpool schedule with roommates and friends. Consider finding a job you can walk to as well. Small things such as these can really make difference.

5. Recycle things you wouldn’t normally think of.

  • There are many things you can turn in once they are used, such as old cell phones, batteries, and printer ink cartridges. At many places, such as Office Depot, you can even save by refilling ink cartridges for a fraction of the price.

6. Unplug things that aren’t being used in your room.

  • You think you are saving all power possible by turning off your television, but what about the little red light which stays on once you hit the “off” button? If you unplug the system it will save all electricity possible when it comes to that specific device. This can save you a lot of money on the power bills.

So, as you can see, performing your part to save the environment is not only doable, but simple as well. I mean, you may as well save some money while you’re at it.

Melissa Smith is a senior NSCS member at the University of Alabama studying Telecommunications and Film, with a focus on Media Production, and Photography. Last spring semester, she studied photography in London and hopes to return to work there post-graduation! She currently interns at WVUA, the campus-owned TV station at her school, and never turns down an opportunity to meet new people for friendships and networking. You can follow her blog as an ambassador for Study Abroad Italy (SAI), the program she studied with in England and also check out her video portfolio.