I grew up learning the 3 R’s: Recycle, Reduce, and Reuse.
As a child, our school had recycled can and bottle drives. My family recycled. I recycled in college and at work. The mantra “Recycle, Reduce, Reuse” was ingrained in me. And part of why I started tutoring online was because it is the most environmentally safe way to teach—I was a green tutor. Right?
Not quite. Online tutoring is more beneficial to the environment than in-person tutoring. Video conferencing online-only emits 7% of the in-person meetings’ carbon emissions (Griffiths, March 5, 2020).
And that’s fantastic news, but did you notice that however small it is, there are carbon emissions from video conferencing. Why?
Being online, while good for the environment, contributes to our carbon footprint. The internet is responsible for 2% of the world’s carbon emissions. Okay, you may think it’s only 2%, but it is the same percentage of carbon emissions the airline industry produces. If you add our devices and technology, that percentage rises to 3.7% https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200305-why-your-internet-habits-are-not-as-clean-as-you-think.
Websites, email, online searches, streaming videos, gaming on the internet all add up.
Paper waste too. How much paper do you have in your home now? Has it made it to the recycle bin yet? I have this habit of creating piles of paper that I need to sort through before it goes to the recycle bin. That was until I changed it and focused on becoming more than an online tutor—becoming an Eco-friendly “Green” Tutor.
What is a Green Tutor?
A green tutor is environmentally conscious. Green tutors look at the impact their teaching and business have on the planet. They focus on doing things that help protect the Earth, like recycling, reducing waste, and other things that benefit the environment—they’re eco-friendly.
First, understand that being eco-friendly isn’t as hard it sounds. Don’t sing to yourself, “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” from Kermit the Frog. Even Kermit realizes by the end of the song–it’s a lot easier and nicer to be green.
You don’t need to rush into becoming green thinking, “I need to be carbon-neutral or carbon-negative next week.” You could be, but I suggest you start by following the 3R’s Recycling, Reducing, and Reusing as much as possible. Then add to your life a fourth R: Regenerating. Regeneration is when you add back into the Earth the resources you’ve used up. Like planting a tree to replenish the Earth.
5 Ways to Become a Green Tutor
Here are five things I did to become a green tutor, and I hope they help you to be a more eco-friendly tutor or student.
#1 Go Paperless
Most online tutoring businesses, schools, and other organizations have the goal to be 100% paperless. Yet, in the United States, only 63% of paper is recycled, and the average citizen consumes 680 pounds of paper a year (The University of Indiana https://www.usi.edu/recycle/paper-recycling-facts.) So, here are a few things tutors and students can do to be paperless:
- Ditch your printer. If you don’t have one, you won’t be tempted to use it (make sure you recycle the printer properly).
- Use smart notebooks that you can write on with a special pen, scan a photo of your notes and upload it to the cloud. Once your notes are uploaded, you can erase your notes with a cloth and reuse those pages. I use the Rocketbook Fusion for notetaking. You can check it out at https://getrocketbook.com/.
- If you’re a tutor, stop printing out business cards. You don’t need them. In most cases, people lose them. Instead, create virtual business cards with a QR code to let people scan the card with the cameras on their smartphones.
- If you need to use paper, make sure you use both sides of a piece of paper and recycle paper when you don’t need it anymore.
#2 Make Guides, Cheat Sheets, Checklist, and Lesson Materials Digital
If you ever downloaded a free cheat sheet, quick guide, templates, checklist, etc., you have signed up for a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a free piece of content. Online tutors, other tutors, and almost any business with a website have a freebie you can download. As a green tutor, you should create materials that don’t need to be printed for others to use them.
You may think it sounds excessive-especially when cute printables seem so popular. But, imagine how much paper gets wasted when not one person but 1000 people print a 5-page beautiful-looking guide. Five pages become 5000, and that’s if people don’t lose it and print it out again. One small thing turns into a more significant problem.
If you’re a student, don’t download those popular printables. Tutors and other businesses will stop creating them if you choose digital alternatives. Now everything on my website and in my lessons is digital. My goal is to be completely paperless, including making sure nothing I make needs to be printed.
#3 Search and Plant Trees with Ecosia
Every time you look something up in a search engine (Like Bing, Google, Yahoo, Mozilla Firefox,) you use up a small amount of energy. It’s a tiny amount, but when billions of people do it simultaneously, things add up.
Instead of using one of the above search engines, use Ecosia https://www.ecosia.org/. Like other search engines, Ecosia makes money through businesses advertising on them. They also make money through an online store with many “Ecosia” brand products. People can also gift their friends with trees.
Here is what is different–Ecosia runs on renewable sources, and for every forty-five searches a person does, they plant a tree. They release monthly financial reports to show people how they spend the money they make.
My students and other tutors love Ecosia because they are planting trees by doing something they already do online—search.
#4 Download Videos Instead of Streaming Them
Sixty percent of the internet’s pollution comes from streaming videos online (cite this). Those hours of watching YouTube videos about your favorite hobby (or, in my case, 8 hours of crochet videos to figure out how to make a Corner-to Corner blanket) produce more carbon emissions from the internet than anything else.
According to WebFx’s blog post, Powering the Internet: Your Virtual Carbon Footprint, https://www.webfx.com/blog/marketing/carbon-footprint-internet/ People watch 1 billion hours of YouTube videos per day, which translates into 6 billion grams of CO2.
So, what can you do? A lot. First, figure out how much time you need to spend on YouTube (or Netflix, Amazon) and set a limit. The second thing you can do is download videos to watch them. When you download videos, you draw energy from the internet once. Once your done watching the video, you can delete it (unless you need 8 hours of crochet videos).
Many online courses have video lectures you can watch online or download them to watch them. Download them. It’s much more eco-friendly. If you are a tutor who wants to use video lessons, download that video, and delete it when you don’t need it.
#5 Take Action to Reverse the Effects of Climate Change.
You can do easy things to improve the environment, from recycling in your home, school, and work to participating in recycling drives. Many communities have local organizations that benefit the environment. Volunteering or donating to one of them helps.
You can also support national and international environmental nonprofits. I’ve done this by becoming a reforestation partner with One Tree Planted.
I’m thrilled to announce that Academic Writing Success is a business sponsor of One Tree Planted https://onetreeplanted.org/!
Check out the video below to see more about what they do!
My New Partnership with One Tree Planted.
One Tree Planted is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to global reforestation. They fund tree-planting initiatives worldwide—Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and the Pacific to restore nature and biodiversity.
They also raise awareness about the importance of trees and motivate younger generations to do something positive for the environment.
For every dollar they raise, they plant a tree.
As of June 2021, I will plant a tree per tutoring session.
The money I donate will support tree planting in Columbia. Sustinere Global https://sustinere-global.com/ and its partners lead the reforestation project in Columbia. They are restoring the forest area in Choco, Columbia. The link above will tell you about the project.
Now, every time I meet a student, I will plant a tree in Columbia. My goal is to plant 200 trees by December 31, 2021.
One of the saddest things I’ve learned recently is how overwhelmed people feel when they know climate change is happening. Students and other tutors tell me how desperate it is—and they don’t see what they can do to make the environment cleaner and make our Earth a safer, more beautiful place to live.
Here’s the truth: small changes by many people create massive results. If you do one, two, three, or all five things I wrote about, you’ll make a big difference.
The worst thing you can do is do nothing, which is why I am becoming more than an online tutor—a green tutor. I hope you can join me and take up this mission.
Share this blog post, act upon this knowledge, and let me know in the comments what you will do to fight climate change.