We live on the raddest planet in the solar system. There’s no other place that has all the things we, as humans, need to survive and thrive. But to keep the chill vibes rolling, we need to start giving back to this tiny blue dot of ours. Here’s a few easy ways to do just that:

1. Recycle

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This is the first and most obvious way to help clean things up. Recycling helps the environment in a mass variety of ways. First, it keeps harmful materials like plastic, glass and aluminum out of landfills and puts them into the hands of people who can use them. Second, it lessens production costs for companies, helping them to keep their product up and running but without the constant need to make more material. Finally, recycling keeps trash away from cute little animals who’d probably end up getting stuck in them or eating them. We don’t want to hurt animals, do we?

2. Get a totally rad water bottle

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Now, I’m sure that many of you already own a water bottle. It’s pretty much a staple of the college arsenal. But do you have one that is totally rad? The reason I say this is that having a cool looking water bottle, or one that you enjoy drinking out of, can push you to use it more often. You don’t want drinking water to feel like a chore. I, for one, have a steel bottle with a pinewood print on it, and I keep it filled constantly. By using your water bottle often, you minimize waste from bottled water. In addition, drinking water instead of other, less natural beverages will make you feel healthier and happier. True story.

3. Choose the bike, not the car

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In Winona, everything is tightly knit together. For the most part, you can make it anywhere in town in less than 15 minutes on a bike. So, why drive a car? While the weather may make this a bit more difficult in the winter months, use alternate methods of transportation when you can. Biking or walking helps eliminate pollution for car and gas-based vehicles. Also, you get some free exercise so it’s a win-win. If biking isn’t an option, there’s a plethora of other ways to get around, from skateboards, to longboards, to roller blades, to just plain walking.

4. Buy local when possible

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Supporting your local businesses should be a no-brainer, but that doesn’t just mean shopping at the comic book shop downtown or going to one of many thrift stores. There’s also a full industry of farmers that also need some attention. Local produce is able to forgo the dangerous pesticides and pollutants that many big-name produce companies use, and by buying local, we can help create a sustainable atmosphere for food. We’re lucky in that we have a few places to get local foods, so it’s a simple matter of making the switch. Try hitting up Winona’s Farmers Market on Saturday mornings in the summer or shopping around Rochester Wholesale or Bluff Country Co-op. These are just a few options!

5. Go for a hike, or just chill in nature

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Trust me, I know the draws of staying in and watching a movie instead of going outside. Plopping down on the couch with the A/C blaring and the new season of Orange is the New Black sounds like a dream. But there’s no reason to do that all the time. Get outside and go explore the wondrous little area we live in. There are hundreds of trails and places to go have a little adventure in nature, so take advantage! The more you’re outside, the less energy and resources you consume in your home. Also, being outside has been linked to increased happiness and decreased stress. If you’re not a hiking person, grab a blanket and lay out in the sun for a while. Nothing is better than chilling under the bright blue sky for an afternoon. Whatever you choose to do is up to you, but just make sure to go and soak in the sweet beats of life.

For more ideas on easy ways to help the environment, take a look at WSU’s Purple Going Green Pinterest board.

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Nathaniel Nelson

Nathaniel is graduating in 2017 with a Journalism major and minors in Film Studies. He is from Buffalo, MN and spends his time listening to chill beats, going on long barefoot walks around town, making pewpew noises while building plastic robots and reading up about internet fashion.