Why Online Learning Is Not Just Good For You But The Environment Too

Published on: January 02, 2022

There's no shortage of reasons why earning your degree online is good for you, but there are some other unexpected benefits too. In addition to furthering your education and enhancing your career prospects while potentially saving money in the process, you'll also be helping the environment. The negative impact of humans on the environment is something that has become hard to overlook, and more people are beginning to take action. So, if you are interested in studying online and care about your carbon footprint, here are just a few reasons why you'll be helping the environment in the process.

Reduced Transportation

Commuting is often a necessity for many students attending college or university. This not only results in a lot of time wasted while stuck in traffic but also contributes to the stress levels of the students. Studying online eliminates this need to travel, which also means less carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere. Online studies also mean a reduction in the amount of fossil fuel that is being used. Of course, this also means that students have to spend less money on gas, which can then be used for other causes. To see how much carbon dioxide your commute would have generated, try out the carbon dioxide emissions calculator for a rough estimate (http://www.carbonify.com/carbon-calculator.htm).

Reduced Energy Consumption

Studying from home still uses energy, but not nearly as much as is required for a large campus facility. Buildings such as college or university campuses need an enormous amount of energy to keep the lights on and the classrooms at a comfortable temperature. Studies, such as the one done by the Design Innovation Group (http://www3.open.ac.uk/events/3/2005331_47403_o1.pdf), have found that there is a measurable difference in the consumption of energy when comparing online learning with traditional methods. In addition, some students that are far away from a college or university often had to opt for a term-time resident to cut down on their commute. Still, studying from home instead eliminates the duplication in energy usage.

Reduced Need For Paper And Other Resources

Studying at a traditional college or university is usually synonymous with a lot of paper usage. Everything from textbooks to in-class handouts is made from paper, which means that a lot of trees had to be cut down. Studying from home doesn't completely eliminate paper as students might still print out some materials, but there is definitely a lot less wastage. Traditional education uses a lot of printer cartridges, which are made from plastic and often end up in landfills.

Recycling all the paper used during traditional education also requires energy, which is once again saved when opting for online learning. Paper is not the only natural resource necessary for traditional education either, as everything from desks to buildings requires wood and other materials. Since online education doesn't require as much of an investment in physical infrastructure, it can also reduce the need for more land to be developed and trees cut down in the process. The same goes for water, which is used for restrooms, landscaping, cafeteria kitchens, and more at colleges or universities.

Reduced Plastic Waste

Something that is often overlooked is the amount of plastic waste that goes hand in hand with traditional education. Disposable lunch products create a tremendous amount of waste, and even students who bring their own food often make use of plastic bags and plastic water bottles to do so. Online studies not only cut back on this waste but also allows students to follow a healthier diet as they can eat fresh food instead of grabbing whatever is convenient. A lot of food from college or university cafeterias also goes to waste or ends up in landfills where they produce harmful greenhouse gasses such as methane.


While online learning is not perfect in terms of protecting the environment, it does provide a range of benefits and is definitely a step in the right direction for education. Traditional brick-and-mortar educational institutions are also beginning to realize the importance of reducing their carbon footprints. Still, it is going to take a lot of effort and dedication to change the way things have been done for years. By providing online degree programs, colleges and universities can also save costs, which can then be funneled back into making their campuses more green.

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