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4 Easy Ways To Help The Planet Even If You're Not An Environmentalist

I took an environmental science course in college that changed how I thought about our planet. More importantly, it changed my entire life.

I want to tell you, though it's no secret: Our Earth is dying. Slowly, but surely, it is.

And, I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to be a “tree hugger” or an extreme environmentalist to care about saving our planet; you just have to be yourself.

Before I was forced to sit down and learn about what was happening with our planet, I honestly could not have cared less.

I would see all types of social media posts about different environmental disasters happening around the world, begging us to take a minute or two to read about the ways our planet was being destroyed, and I don’t think I ever did.

I would keep scrolling past, convinced it wasn’t worth my time. I thought, "As long as the world doesn't end during my lifetime, it isn’t that important to me."

I couldn't have received a bigger slap in the face than when I walked into Bi Sci 003 the first day of my sophomore year at Penn State University.

It was my first class of the semester, and after hearing from so many other students the course was an easy A, I definitely was not prepared to have it completely change my life.

First of all, our textbook was a journal. Yes, a journal. Granted, it was about 200 pages,

I was still overjoyed to learn that for the first time in all my years of taking science classes, I wouldn’t have to memorize a single chemical name or a single scientific process I was sure to forget the minute after I took the exam.

Instead, all we were expected to do was answer a couple of reflection questions each week and complete a “Reflection-Action Assignment,” which consisted of applying what we learned in class to our lives and writing about our experience. Piece of cake.

The only strange thing about the class was it took a few weeks before we started learning about our environment in any in-depth way.

From the very first day of lecture, my professor told us our planet depends on us loving ourselves. Sounds so kumbaya, right?

At least that’s what I thought at first -- until I began to open my heart and my mind to what my professor was saying.

There is this quote by Howard Thurman my professor shared with us during one of the last lectures. He said, “Don’t ask what the world needs.

Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Now, I know most, if not all, of you reading this have not taken Bi Sci 003, but don’t worry; I'll break this quote down.

Essentially, what we must do to save this planet is live truthfully, with love and joy in our hearts.

Once we’re able to do that, we will be ready to take on the responsibility of caring for this enormous, dying planet we’re fortunate enough to call our home.

One of the most important things our professor did was force us to stop seeing ourselves and the Earth as two separate entities (as “I” and the “other").

Instead, he asked us to see our relationship with Earth as something binding, something irrevocably inseparable.

It’s not the environment, it’s our environment. We owe every bit of our lives to this planet.

Every breath of air you take, every sip of rubbing alcohol you drink, every heavenly slice of pizza and every Prada bag all are products of this planet.

Don’t you think it’s time we finally give our home something in return?

I’m not saying we must all become environmental activists and have tree sits every other weekend.

I’m just saying there are many little things we can change in our daily routines that will help the Earth rather than harm it.

And, this is coming from someone who learned she was the most wasteful person in her class, so don’t think I haven’t had to make any changes because I certainly have. Here are a few quick ways you can, too:

1. Are you one of those people who leaves the sink on while you brush your teeth? Yeah, time to cut that out.

2. When you’re washing the dishes, make sure to turn off the water between washes.

3. How about we all stop being so damn lazy and walk to our friends’ houses down the street rather than driving?

4. For the people living on college campuses: I know at my school, there are a row of garbage cans for each type of recycling in almost every building on campus. If your school is like mine, take the extra few seconds to look at where you’re throwing out garbage because trust me, it makes a difference.

See how easy it can be?

This is as much of a lesson on environmental consciousness as it is an ode to Bi Sci 003.

If I were to write about all the things this one class has done for me, this article would probably turn into a 200-page book. In a single phrase, this class saved me.

It saved me from my utter ignorance, and now I’m urging all of you to start asking questions.

Be responsive. Don’t just sit by, thinking this environmental problem will fix itself because it won’t, and the longer we allow this planet to continue dying, the more we will continue to kill ourselves and our future generations.

Soon, our home will have nothing more to give. Make no mistake: This is our problem now because soon, it will be too late.