Be the change you wish to see

When we were young, the mysterious beauty of the world we lived in captivated us. The smell of flowers, the colors of animals and the sounds of the forest made our little imaginative minds go wild. We planted trees and raised butterflies, and when we went to the zoo, we thought it was the most amazing place in the world.

For some reason, this awe of the natural world dies out as we age. Perhaps we abandon the naive notion that we can make a difference in the world by taking care of it. Or maybe we grow so used to the world around us that we take for granted that it will always be there.

But it won’t. Polar ice is melting and entire species of plants and animals disappear from this planet every week. Uninhabited areas of the world are no longer places to appreciate nature, but to dump waste and extract resources.

We cannot afford to take the natural world for granted, be it for our sake or for those who come after us. Whatever it is that we lost — our sense of wonder and imagination or our idealistic youth — we need to find it again.

Students appear to mistakenly believe that being on campus makes them exempt from being environmentally responsible. Not paying the water and electric bills directly (you do pay; it’s just called room and board) reinforces the illusion that students are powerless in the quest for eco-friendliness.

Kudos to Campus Environment and Operations, Undergraduate Student Senate and Resident Services, among others, which are trying to reverse this sentiment. And while their attempts are admirable, they’re not enough. Every individual at Kent State needs to make an effort to be more responsible.

Here are some easy and painless tips:

n Unplug electronics when you’re not using them. Some electronics don’t take energy unless you turn them on. Others, such as a DVD player or phone charger, use electricity even when you’re not using them. Unplug them when you’re done. If you have a laptop, shut it down and unplug it (from the wall, not the charger or it will still use electricity) at the end of the day.

n Turn off the lights. Don’t leave the light on when you’re not in the room. If you have a window in your room, keep the lights off and use natural light for as long as you can. If you live off campus, invest in energy efficient bulbs. They cost a few dollars more, but will save you money in the long run and they also last longer.

n Reduce waste. Use real dishes and silverware instead of paper or plastic. Refill your Dasani bottle instead of buying another when it’s empty, then recycle when its run its course. Try to only use one napkin when you eat — when one side looks dirty, fold it the other way. Buy reusable grocery bags. They usually cost less than a dollar and some grocery stores will give you discounts for using them.

n Don’t run water needlessly. If you’re washing dishes, soap the dishes up, then rinse them all at once. They’ll be just as clean and you’ll have saved all the water you would have used if you washed them each separately. If you’re taking a shower, don’t turn the water on then wait around for it to heat up. It really doesn’t take that long to get warm.

In fear of sounding too clich‚, we’ll leave you with this: One person alone can only make a small difference, but together, there’s no knowing how big of a change we can bring about by the end of the year.

And who knows, if we all reduce our energy and water consumption, maybe we’ll pay less for room and board next year.

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