Have you hugged a tree today?

Did you see all the squirrels, birds and other campus wildlife breaking out into Disney-like song and dance? Did you happen to notice the boughs of the trees look like smiles? Even a passing breeze sounds like a contented sigh.

In case you haven’t picked up on our subtlety, today is Earth Day. We’ve come back to that unofficial holiday when for a few days in elementary school you focused on litter and planting trees.

The media is full of stories about “going green” and other environmentally friendly ideas. It’s easy to get tired of reading about ethanol, hybrids, carbon footprints and energy conservation. Some of the practices and concepts environmentalists come up with to help the earth seem pretty out there are often too expensive for the average college student.

That shouldn’t put anyone off trying to help, or at least cause less harm to, the environment. There are numerous little steps students can take to contribute. All it takes is some dedication and creativity.

Figure out how you’re wasting electricity and stop it. Sounds easy enough, right? Actually, it’s pretty easy to miss the big offenders. There is, of course, the usual turn off a light when you leave a room. It’s small, but it’s better than leaving unnecessary lights on.

Another large source of wasted electricity as the power cords and chargers left in outlets. Cell phone chargers, even when not plugged into the phone, still draw in electricity. It doesn’t go anywhere after that. Likewise, the AC adapter of a laptop will still draw electricity even if the computer is unplugged. The Department of Energy estimates that 25 percent of the electricity consumed by home electronics occurs while they are turned off.

When doing your laundry, try to wash full loads only. If you combine your whites and colors, your laundry loads will be more energy-efficient. Because you should use cold water with colors, you’ll also be consuming less energy because you don’t have to heat the water. Try not to overdry your clothes, and don’t forget to remove the lint from the dryer. If you have the room, give the ol’ laundry line in the backyard a try. At the very least, it’ll get you outside for a while.

Going along with the water theme, take faster, cooler showers. Everyone loves a nice, long, hot shower, but as therapeutic as they sound, they don’t help the environment much. Eartheasy.com estimates that a four-minute shower uses as much as 20 to 40 gallons of water. Again, cooler temperatures require less energy to heat.

As much as students would love to not have to do homework, our classes require it. Be careful of how much paper you use to print off assignments or notes. While we doubt most, if any, professors would accept an environmental excuse for not turning in a paper, it’s still a good idea to cut back where possible.

See how much you can reduce your waste. Everything you buy, from CDs to movies to fast food to grocery store plastic bags, has some sort of leftover trash. While they may seem small on a day-to-day basis, they add up to near-landfill proportions over a lifetime.

The simplest task is don’t litter. All your food wrappers, cups, chewed gum, beer boxes, loose papers, plastic bags and cigarette butts all have the proper receptacle. Hang on to them a little bit longer before you can throw them away. It’s better for the soil, and it makes the campus (and your front lawns) look much nicer.

These aren’t radical, tree-hugging hippie ideas. They’re simple steps everyone can take to make the environment healthier. Oh, and when you’re done with this paper, put us in our place: the recycling bin.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.