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Consider Your Lifestyle

Campus Sustainability Office


Here's a (not exhaustive) list of things you can do while on campus and at home:

9 Personal Solutions to Climate Change
Transportation
Energy
Food
Cleaning & Air Quality
Personal Care Products
Lawncare
Purchasing Choices
Waste Reduction
Water


9 Personal Solutions to Climate Change

Individual choices can have an impact on global climate change. Reducing your family's heat-trapping emissions does not mean forgoing modern conveniences; it means making smart choices and using energy-efficient products, which may require an additional investment up front, but often pay you back in energy savings within a couple of years.

1. The car you drive: the most important personal climate decision.

When you buy your next car, look for the one with the best fuel economy in its class. Each liter of gas you use is responsible for 2.75 kgs of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Better gas mileage not only reduces global warming, but will also save you thousands of dollars at the pump over the life of the vehicle. Compare the fuel economy of the cars you're considering and look for new technologies like hybrid engines.

2. Look for Energy Star Appliances.

 When it comes time to replace appliances, look for the Energy Star label on new appliances (refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters use the most energy). These items may cost a bit more initially, but the energy savings will pay back the extra investment within a couple of years. Household energy savings really can make a difference!

3. Unplug a freezer.

One of the quickest ways to reduce your global warming impact is to unplug the extra refrigerator or freezer you rarely use (except when you need it for holidays and parties). This can reduce the typical family's carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 10 percent.

4. Get a home energy audit.

Take advantage of the free home energy audits offered by many utilities. Simple measures, such as installing a programmable thermostat to replace your old dial unit or sealing and insulating heating and cooling ducts, can each reduce a typical family's carbon dioxide emissions by about 5 percent.

5. Light bulbs matter.

If every household in the United States replaced one regular light bulb with an energy-saving model, we could reduce global warming pollution by more than 45 million tons over the life of the bulbs; the same as taking 6.3 million cars off the road. So, replace your incandescent bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescents, which now come in all shapes and sizes. You'll be doing your share to cut back on heat-trapping pollution and you'll save money on your electric bills and light bulbs.

6. Think before you drive.

If you own more than one vehicle, use the less fuel-efficient one only when you can fill it with passengers. Driving a full minivan may be kinder to the environment than two midsize cars. Whenever possible, join a carpool or take mass transit.

7. Buy good wood.

When buying wood products, check for labels that indicate the source of the timber (SFC certified – Sustainable Forest Council). Supporting forests that are managed in a sustainable fashion makes sense for biodiversity, and it may make sense for the climate too. Forests that are well managed are more likely to store carbon effectively because more trees are left standing and carbon-storing soils are less disturbed.

8. Plant a tree.

You can also make a difference in your own backyard. Get a group in your neighborhood together and contact your local arborist or urban forester about planting trees on private property and public land. In addition to storing carbon, trees planted in and around urban areas and residences can provide much-needed shade in the summer, reducing energy bills and fossil fuel use.

9. Let policymakers know you are concerned about global warming. Elected officials and business leaders need to hear from concerned citizens.

For more information click here.

Transportation

  • On Campus:
    • Walk, bike or rollerblade when commuting to campus as often as is possible.
    • If it is not feasible for you to use a form of active transportation, take the bus.
    • If you absolutely need to drive a car to get to campus, use a car co-op vehicle or try to carpool with others, so that there are fewer cars on the road.
    • Try to limit your work related travel, and if you must travel try to take the train, bus or drive rather than take an airplane whenever possible.
  • At Home:
    • Use a form of active transportation (walk, bike, rollerblade) whenever possible. Short trips or errands can often be done without a car.
    • Consider joining a car share if you occasionally need a car, but don’t want to assumer the costs of insurance and maintenance.

Energy

  • On Campus:
    • Use powerbars, and then turn off the powerbar at the end of the day. 10% your of energy consumption comes phantom power -from appliances when you’re not using them but are still plugged in!
    • Remember to turn off the lights, computers, and monitors, and unplug them at the end of the day.
  • At Home:
    • When making purchasing decisions, try to find an energy efficient model. Although it may cost a bit more initially, you’ll save on your energy bills in the future.
    • Learn about energy justice and sustainable energy options.

Food

  • On Campus:
    • Support Diversity and Soma Cafe. They have made a commitment to sustainability by supporting our compost and recycling programs, provide reusable and compostable take out options, sourcing local foods, organic foods, and fairly traded foods.
    • If you use take out containers from Diversity or Soma Café, remember to put them in a compost bin once you’re finished.
  • At Home:
    • Support local food producers and vendors.
    • Choose organic or sustainably grown foods whenever possible.
    • Reduce meat consumption.
    • Make yourself aware of which species of fish contain higher levels of heavy metals than others. Try to choose species which have lower levels of heavy metals.
    • Reduce dairy consumption.
    • Compost your food waste.
    • Minimize the packaging your food comes in - buy in bulk, do not use disposable dishes.
    • Compost your food ‘waste’ and use it to feed your or someone else’s garden.

Cleaning & Air Quality

  • On Campus:
    • Follow the University Scent Free Guideline. Choose scent free products and avoid wearing perfumes or colognes when you will be on campus. Some people are sensitive to the chemicals in fragrances and perfumes and they can become ill.
    • If you smoke please be respectful and smoke away from doorways and off of campus property.
  • At Home:
    • Many conventional cleaning products can decrease the air quality within your home, and can expose you to dangerously high concentrations of various solvents. You can make your own cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice, or buy less harmful products.
    • Avoided scented products like room sprays, electrical outlet fragrance plug-ins, or other synthetic fragrances.

Personal Care Products

  • At Home:
    • Research your personal care products on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.

Lawncare

  • At Home:
    • Reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides and herbicides in your yard.
    • Use finished compost to add nutrients and soil to your flowerbeds, gardens, or grass.
    • Use indigenous plants. They require less maintenance and will look beautiful.
    • Consider xeriscaping – landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation.
    • Use a manual push mower – reduce your GHG emissions and get a workout at the same time!
    • Leave grass clipping and dead leaves on your yard to return the nutrients to the soil. If you’d rather rake, reserve your clippings and put them into your compost.

Purchasing Choices

  •  On Campus:
    • Reconsider your need to make a purchase.
    • Purchase items that will last a long time.
    • Consider what will happen to the product you purchase once it is worn out – purchase products that are biodegradable or recyclable.  Do not buy products that will become toxic waste.
    • Consider packaging when making purchases – avoid over-packaged products.
    • Contact the Purchasing Department if you have questions about which purchasing choices are better than others when shopping for your office.
  • At Home:
    • Reconsider whether or not you need to purchase something – maybe you already have something similar, or could purchase the item second hand.
    • Every dollar you spend it a vote for the type of future you want to have. Spend wisely.
    • Consider packaging when making purchasing decisions – avoid buying things that are over-packaged.
    • Learn to distinguish green wash from valid environmental claims. Familiarize yourself with common, trustworthy certifications. Always read the label – don’t take the companies’ word for it.

Waste Reduction

  • On Campus:
    • Compost and recycle as much of your waste as is possible.
    • Don’t purchase things that are not compostable or recyclable. Prefer items that are compostable.  Recycling products requires energy and resources.
  • At Home:
    • Link up what you buy to what you throw away – make purchasing decisions that minimize what you send to landfill and to your recycling bin and maximize what you compost and what has no residual ‘waste’ product.
    • Compost.

Water

  • On Campus:
    • Support the University’s efforts to keep bottled water off campus – use a refillable water bottle.
  • At Home:
    • Consider using xeriscaping techniques in your yard to reduce your water consumption for irrigation purposes.  
    • Drink tap water, avoid bottled water.
    • Install low-flow water fixtures.