How Online Learning Can Positively Impact the Earth

143631_144035_1_Michelle-Smith-circleby Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from marketing to productivity. Michelle encourages your feedback via email.

Go Green IT for a greener environment.There are countless benefits to participating in online education. It’s convenient as courses can typically be taken at any time, from anywhere. It’s often cheaper than taking courses at a university. You have instant access to just about anything you could possibly want to know, so you don’t have to move across country or across the world to study a subject you’re interested in.

While online education options may be beneficial to you, did you ever consider the impact of distance learning on the environment? As it turns out, conducting your studies online is actually the greenest way to get an education. A UK study found that campus-based courses use 87 percent more energy and cause 85 percent more emissions than online courses. So why is online learning so green?

There’s less paper waste.

Although many universities are embracing the digital age, most require students to turn in hard copies of papers and projects. It results in a lot of paper waste that inevitably piles up in the landfill at the end of the semester. Online learning gets around that because there’s not actually a physical place to turn anything in. Instead, online students can turn in digital copies that eliminate paper waste so it’s better for the environment.

It saves gas.

Every time you start your car, you cause emissions. Just 1 gallon of gas causes 24 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions to enter the atmosphere. Say you use 1 gallon of gas driving to and from your class five days a week. By the end of the week, you would have caused 120 pounds of emissions! If you have to drive farther or sit in traffic, the environmental toll could be even worse. However, if you’re taking courses online, rather than driving to a university, you can minimize your impact. By skipping the daily commute, you’ll save the Earth from those carbon emissions and reduce your footprint. Plus you’ll be able to save money on gasoline costs.

It eliminates building waste.

There aren’t a whole lot of new universities in the world. Most are well-established, with stately, inefficient buildings. Powering these classrooms and dormitories not only costs a small fortune, it’s bad for the environment. Buildings in the United States, including university facilities, account for almost 40 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption, contributing an enormous amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. On the other hand, online learning eliminates the need to have educational facilities, so you can keep your carbon footprint low.