Save the World, Study STEM: Energy, Recycling, Disposal…Oh My!

©TT Studio / Dollar Photo Club

©TT Studio / Dollar Photo Club

Human consumption of fossil fuels has become a hot button topic for scientists in recent years as record breaking temperatures around the world and rising water levels threaten to disrupt and inflict permanent damage on various ecosystems. Thus, conserving our planet’s resources is an important part of keeping our earth healthy for years to come. From the energy we use to heat and cool our homes, to usage of recyclables like aluminum or plastic, we can all be smarter with how our planet’s resources are used and reused. Simple lifestyle alterations like donating and recycling unwanted items, or using alternative fuel sources can lead to positive environmental change if we all contribute a bit of effort.

Seasonal Sustainability

With the long, hot days of summer in full swing, the temperature isn’t the only thing that’s on the rise. Energy bills also tend to rise during the summer and winter. In the summer, turn up your thermostat when you’re not home to save money and energy, turning it back down only when you’re actually around. If your home is equipped with ceiling fans, use them! The air flow helps cool the room without using as much energy as regular air conditioning systems. During the wintertime, cover the bare floors with rugs or carpet to retain heat and add comfort. Leave window shades and blinds open during the daytime to allow the sun to heat your home. Whatever the season, remember to replace the filters in your heating and cooling systems to maximize their effectiveness.

iPhone Invigoration

Electronic devices are massive energy hogs; they require energy to manufacture, use and recharge. The impact of electronic devices on the environment can be lessened by donating or recycling these devices when they are no longer usable, which helps avoid air and water pollution, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are emitted when virgin materials like glass, plastic and metal is produced to build the electronic devices. If you’re wondering where to donate or recycle old devices, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has created a website that allows people to plug in the name of the electronic device and the device’s manufacturer. The results of the search gives users more details about how old devices can be responsibly recycled.

Closet Conservation

Is your closet brimming with unflattering jeans or shoes a half size too small? Instead of throwing them out, there are a multitude of options to give your clothes a chance at a new life. Some stores like H&M and Nike are improving their sustainability efforts by taking used shoes and clothes and refashioning them into recycled clothing fibers and material for sports surfaces, respectively. Clothing that is still in good condition can also be donated to a number of charities that redistribute recycled items to the needy. Shoes4Africa is a nonprofit organization that collects gently used shoes, which are then doled out to provide protection from diseases, like hookworm, that are transmitted via bare feet. There are also financial benefits to recycling clothes. Thrift stores like Goodwill and Savers provide receipts that can be used for tax deductions.

Seeing A Sustainable Future

Vision impairment can range in severity from a mild annoyance to dangerous detriment. Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from one or more forms of uncorrected vision, which is often a simple fix with corrective lenses. Unfortunately, eyeglasses are an unattainable luxury for many people in underdeveloped countries, which only furthers the poverty gap. These people struggle to even learn or earn a living because reading and working can be almost impossible tasks to accomplish. Thus, the need for donated glasses is an often overlooked but crucial solution to assist in both social and environmental change. Luckily, there are multiple charities like New Eyes, Vision Aid Overseas, and Lions Club International that accept donations for sunglasses, frames, and prescription lenses, which are sent to overseas missions and distributed to those who need them.

Effortless Excess Drug Disposal

It’s a common sight in almost every household to find a handful of bottles with varying amounts of unused prescription drugs in the bathroom cabinet. Instead of letting these bottles pile up, take advantage of programs that take back unused medicines for proper disposal. The common rule of thumb is to avoid flushing most expired or unused medicines down the toilet, which can result in residual, and potentially harmful, levels of drugs in communal drinking water. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration has established a list of medications that should be flushed instead of thrown away with the garbage.