As a student, you probably don’t think that your actions have much of an impact on the environment. But the truth is, even small changes may make a big difference when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Here are 12 simple ways you could start making a positive impact: Turn off lights One of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint may be by turning off lights. If your home has good old fashion light bulbs, the rule of thumb is to turn off the lights if you are going to leave a room and be gone for more than 15 minutes. This is because turning on and off these types of bulbs often is actually not energy efficient! Better yet, switching to LED bulbs. LEDs do not have these inefficiencies. Pack your own lunch Pack your own lunch instead of buying food from a restaurant or deli. This not only saves you money, but it also reduces the amount of waste you produce. Plus, you could choose to pack foods that are healthier and environmentally friendly. Also, bring a reusable water bottle to school instead of buying single use bottles. Walk or bike to school instead of having your parents drive you If you live close enough to school, walking or biking could be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Not only does it save on gas, but it’s also a great form of exercise! Carpool with friends when possible Carpooling may also be another great way to save on gas and reduce your carbon footprint. If you and your friends all live in the same general area, it makes sense to carpool as often as possible. Turn off electronics when they’re not in use Some electronics, like computers and TVs, use more electricity than others. To save energy, be sure to turn off your computer, TV, and other electronics when you’re not using them. You could also unplug them from the wall outlet or plug them into a power strip so they’re completely off. According to the EPA, recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, and enough energy to power the average American home for six months! Unplug chargers from the outlet when you’re finished using them Chargers, like those for cell phones and laptops, continue to use energy when they’re plugged into the outlet. To avoid wasting energy, be sure to unplug chargers when you’re not using them. Recycle and compost as much as possible Recycling may be one of the simplest things you may do to reduce your carbon footprint. Make sure to recycle all of the following: aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, newspapers, and magazines. According to the EPA, recycling one aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run a 14 watt CFL bulb (60 watt incandescent equivalent) for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours. AND The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle will operate a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. Plant trees and gardens to help absorb carbon dioxide Planting trees and gardens has many benefits, both for the environment and for the people who live in close proximity to them. Trees and gardens help to absorb carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas. By planting trees and gardens, you may be able to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In addition, trees and gardens provide shade and help to cool down the surrounding area, which can be especially beneficial in the summer. They also help to filter the air and improve air quality. Finally, trees and gardens can provide a beautiful and relaxing green space in an urban environment. Advocate for environmentally friendly policies in your school and community You may advocate for environmentally friendly policies in your school and community by doing the following: Write a letter or email to your school board or city council expressing your support for eco-friendly initiatives.Speak at a school board or city council meeting about the importance of reducing our carbon footprint.Organize a recycling drive at your school or in your neighborhood.Start a composting program at your school or in your community. Support businesses that are working to reduce their carbon footprint. One way to support businesses that are working to reduce their carbon footprint could be to buy products from them. If a business is making an effort to be more environmentally friendly, it stands to reason that their products will be as well. Another way to support these businesses might be to spread the word about their efforts. You could do this by writing positive reviews, sharing articles on social media, or even just telling your friends and family about them. Finally, you could support businesses by investing in them. This may be done through traditional methods like stock purchases, or through more unique methods like crowdfunding. Whatever method you choose, invest in businesses that are working to make a difference. Use less water It’s important to use less water whenever possible, both to save energy and to help conserve this valuable resource. Some ways you might use less water include the following: Take shorter showers.Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.Fix any leaks in your home (or have your dad do it).Water your plants only when necessary. Choose environmentally friendly products when possible There are many products on the market these days that are environmentally friendly. From organic cotton T-shirts to bamboo toothbrushes, there are plenty of choices when it comes to green products. Try to buy these whenever you are able to, and tell your friends and family about them too! There are many things you could do to reduce your carbon footprint, but these are a great place to start. It’s important to remember that every little bit helps, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do everything on this list. Just do what you can and keep trying to make a difference You don’t have to do all of these things at once. Just pick one or two that you can commit to and make a difference today!