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It's easy being green: Try these eco-friendly tips for Earth Day

You don't have to get your hands dirty to make a positive impact on the environment — adopt these simple, sustainable habits this Earth Day. – Photo by Akil Mazumder / Pexels

With concerns over climate change and pollution continuing to skyrocket, there's no better time than now to start considering your impact on the environment. If you need any extra motivation to start reducing, reusing and recycling, there's no better time than Earth Day. 

Leaving behind bad habits can be challenging — here's some straightforward advice to ensure you do your part in saving the planet.

Invest in a reusable water bottle

If you want to start having a positive impact on the environment, first identify the small changes you can make that collectively create a big difference.

One small but effective change is trading plastic water bottles or cups for reusable ones. Instead of throwing away tons of waste, you will be reducing pollution.

This is also a great way to save money — you won't have to keep buying cases of plastic water bottles with every grocery order. You don't have to splurge on a Stanley Cup or another expensive bottle either, as stores like Target offer a variety of affordable options. 

Luckily, Rutgers has made this a relatively easy adjustment. There are water fountains all around campus for you to take advantage of. If you live in a residence hall, purchasing a Brita filter to get fresh, clean tap water is also a worthwhile investment.

Utilize public transportation

Considering Rutgers already has a robust bus system, most students likely take advantage of this option when heading to class. But using public transportation when you're off campus is also a great way to travel green.

Research by UCLA has shown that when more people use public transportation, it leads to environmentally friendly outcomes like reduced carbon emissions, reduced pollution and more. 

NJ Transit is an affordable means of using public transportation within New Jersey — there are plenty of train and bus routes to choose from. If you're going out of the state, research available public transportation and save the hassle of having to use rideshare apps or rental cars. 

And if the weather is nice, walking or biking are forms of sustainable transportation you can take part in to reduce your carbon footprint while getting fresh air and exercise.

Conserve energy

It may not seem like much, but turning off lights you aren't using is an effective way to help reduce your energy use. It's been proven that turning the lights off can help reduce your carbon footprint and has a bigger impact than you might think. 

It's as simple as checking that unnecessary lights are off before you leave your residence hall. 

If you pay for utilities, being mindful of the energy you use can also help you save money on your electricity bill, making this habit a win-win for you and the Earth.

Adopt a plant-based diet

This might seem like a more dramatic lifestyle change than other tips on this list, but it doesn't have to be. Reducing the amount of meat and other animal products you consume can have a domino effect, from reducing methane gas emissions from cows to curbing deforestation caused by land conversion for grazing.

With less pressure on the meat industry to produce more meat, more positive changes can occur for the Earth. 

If you're skeptical about reducing your intake of meat and animal products, it's perfectly fine to start slowly! Implementing habits like Meatless Mondays or having one plant-based meal or snack per day can help you change your diet in a sustainable way.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, consider choosing just one of these tips and incorporating it into your daily life. To ensure a sustainable future for generations to come, changes need to start happening today. 

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