I was in my friend’s dorm room one day and she asked me to turn her fan on for her. The good friend that I was, I obliged, and noticed that both her fan and her computer were plugged in while not in use. Although it may not seem like a big deal, unplugging them would have taken a few seconds, and would have made a small but significant difference in reducing our energy use. When I explained this to her, she gave me a quizzical expression, and inquired as to why it mattered to me at all. It is not like unplugging two things would actually help in the grand scheme of things. So why even try? This question has often been presented to me, and sometimes even I do not know the answer. But I do know this: the deterioration of our environment is a serious problem that must be addressed. It is slowly getting more exposure, but people do not really understand why it is such an important issue. We share the Earth with a variety of other organisms that are becoming extinct faster than ever thanks to the growing disappearance of their natural habitats. If you do not care about the fact that human beings are not the only inhabits of our planet, then you should care about the well-being of our future generations, which is already becoming unstable with the ever-looming threat of climate change. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in its statement on Al Gore and the IPCC’s shared Nobel Peace Prize win, global warming “may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth’s resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world’s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.” In 2003, over 15,000 people died of heat waves in France, leading to an estimated total of 35,000 in all of Europe, and if people do not start acting now, an even larger catastrophe is inevitable. But in the words of Wendell Philips, “What is defeat? Nothing but education: nothing but the first step to something better.” There are simple ways to help out the environment in nearly every aspect of your day-to-day life. Pick Up Stray Bottles and Trash It is really not that complicated. Anytime you’re walking along the path, and you happen to see an empty bottle, pick it up and drop it in the nearest recycling bin. If it is not recyclable, it goes in the trash bin. Pretty self-explanatory. Turn Off the Tap When Brushing Your Teeth. Many faucets use three to five gallons of water per minute, so turning it off for however long it takes you to brush your teeth actually makes a huge difference. Considering that only three percent of the world’s water supply is fresh water, and that two percent of that fresh water is locked in polar ice caps, you might want to re-evaluate how much water we can afford to waste. Use Rechargeable Batteries. Although they are a bit harder to find, and are more expensive initially than regular alkaline batteries, rechargeable ones pay off in the long run, economically, and environmentally. And if you ever need to throw away your batteries or other electronics, many retailers offer recycling programs. Store Your Groceries in Your Own Reusable Bag. We all know CVS is an integral part of Phillips Academy life, but that does not mean you have to use their plastic bags. By bringing your own bag, you can prevent poisonous toxins from being released into the atmosphere. If you do continue to use plastic bags however, just be sure to reuse them: as a trash liner, care package padding or even doggy duty. In other words, being eco-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean you have to resort to living like a hermit. You do not have to buy a car that runs on hydrogen fuel, or offset your entire home with carbon credits. Sometimes, the simplest things make all the difference.