People have always recognized me by my habits. I was raised to live “green” and boy, do I live it. I’m always shocked when someone tells me that they don’t recycle. Why wouldn’t you?

As a college student, I often hear my peers saying that living an environmentally friendly lifestyle is too expensive and too much of a hassle, but living green on campus is incredibly easy. We are provided with recycling bins and drop offs, which are in the same locations as the landfill dumpsters. During the time that I lived in the dorms, I ran my recycling out with the trash.

Now, I live off campus, but every week or two I load up my car and drop off all my glass, paper, plastic and aluminum at one of Johnson City’s recycling centers.  Recycling takes up about ten minutes of my week.   

Why is it then, that out of the 75 percent of America’s recyclable waste stream, we only recycle 30 percent? We live in a society of waste and convenience, and many people refuse to recognize that this is, indeed, a huge problem. Under our current administration, our nation is environmentally regressing. This means it is every individual’s responsibility to step up and reduce waste if we want to make an impact on this planet.   

If you’re not recycling right now, now is a great place to start. However, recycling alone is not going to get us far. We must make efforts to reduce all waste, which means cutting down on single use items in general.

Swap plastic bags for reusable cloth ones; opt to buy from sustainable companies and carry a reusable cup with you when you are planning to buy coffee. Over four billion Starbucks cups are thrown away every single year, so why add to that pile when you could bring your own cup and save money for doing it?

Going green is about transition. Start with recycling. Start carrying your own reusables. Start composting. Before you know it, you’ll have reduced your waste to the point where, like me, you’re trying to get other people to do it too. It’s a community effort, a community of all people.