Small steps in saving the world

By Duke Staff

On Oct. 14, more than 170 countries, including the United States, signed an agreement in Kigali, Rwanda to ban the use of greenhouse gas chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons, which are used as coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners.

This deal will have a huge impact on slowing the progression of global warming, according to climate-change research website Carbon Brief. The deal took several months of negotiation to come to fruition, and it’s a good reminder that with persistence and hard work, we can reduce the impact of the climate change.

We at The Duke think this is a great time to reflect on how we, college students, can make our own contributions to the fight against global warming.

For example, did you know that limiting yourself to one plate of food in the Towers dining hall can reduce waste? By using the same dish for your pizza and salad, you are reducing the amount of water needed to do the dishes. Also, you reduce the amount of food that winds up uneaten and thrown away. In the same vein, buying one of those white Starbucks reusable cups instead of getting a paper one each time can help save trees.

If you live off-campus, avoid the temptation to use disposable plates and silverware, and instead purchase real dishes. Doing the dishes sucks, but it’s part of being a real adult. And while we’re on the subject — off-campus dwellers can reduce waste by shopping at Aldi, where they don’t give out plastic shopping bags.

Another way to prevent plastic from winding up in landfills is to use real water bottles instead of disposable ones. If you do use a disposable bottle, recycle it! There are blue recycling bins all over campus that make it easy. However, be careful with what you put in those bins. Pittsburgh’s waste management department asks that all recycled materials be clean and dry when they are thrown away. This means rinsing out your Gatorade bottle and scraping the pizza out of the box before you chuck it.

For off-campus apartment-dwellers, you can set up your own recycling bins. According to Pittsburgh’s guidelines, the bins must be blue and will be emptied by the real MVP’s, Pittsburgh’s waste management workers, every other week.

If you want to go the extra mile when it comes to saving the earth, take shorter showers in the morning and turn off all the lights when you leave a room. To further save power, you can change your web-browser homescreen to “,” a Google-powered search engine that uses a black background instead of white, which requires less energy.

You might ask yourself, does any of this really matter? Do the actions of one person really make a difference? Well, no. But if all of us can work in tandem, then we can induce real change.