Go green this Earth Day — Upcycling and DIY projects

Maybe you should take a different approach this Earth Day. (Credit: Meme Center)

Maybe you should take a different approach this Earth Day. (Credit: Meme Center)

In 1970, 20 million Americans held rallies across the country in honor of the first Earth Day. Twenty years later, the effort went global with 200 million people in 141 countries coming together to draw the international community’s attention to environmental issues. Now in its fourth decade, Earth Day is arguably bigger and more necessary than ever before. So how can college students go green on campus? From everyday ways to be more environmentally conscious to DIY projects and upcycling ideas, you can spread a little love for the planet this coming April 22.

Earth Day 2014

The theme for this year’s Earth Day celebration is Green Cities. The global organizer behind Earth Day, the Earth Day Network, launched The Green Cities Campaign in the fall of 2013 “to help cities around the world become more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint.” The initiative is focusing on three key elements—buildings, energy and transportation—and will continue into 2015.

The Earth Day Network is also a great resource for Earth Day events happening in your state and even around the world. They offer a tool kit for helping college students organize their own environmentally conscious events on campus as well as links to online activism opportunities should you be interested in spearheading an event with your fellow students.

Go green on campus

Not ready to be in charge of your own campus-wide Earth Day activity? You can always start smaller with some DIY ways to live a little greener in the dorm, or wherever. Isabella Roden wrote “Everyday Environmentalist—Go Green on Campus” for the Nature Conservancy with some suggestions:

1.  Take shorter showers. Cut your normal shower time by two minutes, and the environment will thank you.

2.  Don’t overload your plate. It is tempting to pile the food on when eating in the dining hall, but throwing away food is hugely wasteful and bad for the planet. Better to make a second trip than throw something away.

3.  Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Anywhere you can, replace old-school light bulbs with these environmentally conscious options.

4.  Reuse paper. Paper has two sides, so be sure to use both when printing to avoid waste. And always recycle!

5.  Join an environmental group. Join an environmental activist group on campus to support the cause. Not a protester? Start (or join) a community garden instead. 

Get crafty with upcycling ideas

Part of the fun of DIY projects is seeing how crafty and creative you can get. But what takes upcycling ideas to the next level is the way they eliminate waste and allow you to reuse items that might have otherwise gone to the landfill. So what better way to celebrate Earth Day then by finding a clever way to make something new out of something old? Twisted Sifter offered some quirky ideas in a June 12, 2012, post “50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things.” From the easy (using a tissue box as a plastic bag dispenser) to the more elaborate (turning an old doorframe into a coffee table), there is an idea for just about anyone.

Another good source for inspiration when it comes to upcycling ideas and DIY projects for college students, or anyone for that matter, is the website Upcycle That. The site features a “Use That” page with links to projects starting from a variety of mediums, from the standard recycling fare of glass, paper and plastic to items such as fabric, rubber, wax and wood.

Honoring Earth Day is easier than ever and doesn’t require you to start wearing tie-dye or become a hardcore hippie. Whether you opt to become more environmentally conscious by participating in some on-campus activity or if you prefer to go green via some DIY projects and upcycling ideas, we can all do our part to help the planet.

How do you honor Mother Nature each Earth Day? Let us know in the comments below.

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