These days, “going green” is something of a buzzword, and for good reason. Many people across the nation are attempting to limit their so-called carbon footprint, or the environmental impact of their own actions, in a variety of ways. One of the most popular methods is carpooling or using fuel efficient vehicles. A less popular, and more extreme, way is to forgo the traditional, brick and mortar university and get a master degree online in order to spare the world the vehicle emissions.
When it comes to conserving the environment, on the other hand, online classes probably isn’t one of the more popular avenues. But taking classes from the comfort of your home — as opposed to attending college in person — is indeed very healthy for the environment.
For starters, online classes take place entirely in cyberspace, meaning that driving to school each day is unnecessary. This frees up the roadways for people and makes driving less of a hassle for everyone else, particularly in “college towns.” According to an article at WorldWideLearn,
“Students can ‘attend’ a course at anytime, from anywhere. This means that parents can attend to their children, then sit down to class; working students can attend classes no matter what their work schedule might be, folks that travel for business or pleasure can attend class from anywhere in the world that has internet access.”
There are other environmental advantages to attending an online class. One of the most important is all of the paper that is saved by attending an online college. At a standard university, paper is often handed out for every assignment and lesson, and students must write reports dozens of pages in length. With a lecture hall of hundreds of students, this can add up to quite a few reams of paper. Not only is this costly for everyone involved, but it is also detrimental to the environment. Much of this paper needlessly ends up in landfills. In fact, according to a study by ecocycle.org
“The U.S. buried or burned more than 166 million tons of resources—paper, plastic, metals, glass and organic materials—in landfills and incinerators in 2008.”
Thankfully, online colleges are doing their part to help reduce the strain on Mother Earth. An article by Horizon.unc.edu articulates the growing demand for online courses.
“Many high schools and community colleges, following universities’ leads, are expanding into distance learning. Major research universities are creating online graduate programs and are offering more and more of their existing courses online. Universities recognize that even traditional campus-resident students sometimes prefer online courses in order to resolve schedule conflicts or take popular courses when physical space limits enrollment.”
With the growth of online courses comes the decline of the use of paper and gas, at least a little bit. Thus, those who attend online classes are more than doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint.
The eco-friendliness doesn’t have to end there, though. There can always be more done to protect the environment. For example, all colleges could offer online classes as a substitute for students who live far away, further reducing needless wasting of gas. As long as educators are consistently coming up with new ideas to make college healthier for the environment, the environment, in turn, will prosper more and more.