Monday, March 4, 2013

Go Green in Everyday Life

Nicole Brown, Marketing Intern Coordinator

Saving the Earth doesn’t require great sacrifice—making a few small changes adds up, especially when you get other people involved too.

Try some of these suggestions to reduce your environmental footprint, and don’t hesitate to pass them on to your friends.

  • Electricity or gas
    • Turn off lights and appliances when you leave the room. All the energy that the lights, the television, the Xbox and your other electronics use while you’re out of the room can really add up. 
    • Reduce your energy bill and your impact on the environment.
    • Unplug appliances when they aren’t in use. A phenomenon called vampire power means that electronics, even when they are turned off, still use a small amount of electricity if they are plugged in. Unplugging these items stops vampire power use.
    • Keep the thermostat cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer to reduce heating and cooling costs and environmental cost.
  • Water.
    • Take shorter showers. Not only does it reduce the electricity or gas used to heat the water, but also reduces the amount of water used.
    • Flush the toilet only when necessary—you don’t really need to flush every time you pee.
      • The average toilet uses gallons of water per flush, so each flush saves a lot of water.
    • Turn off the faucet when you aren’t directly using it. This means not leaving the water running while you’re brushing your teeth or scrubbing your face.
  • Drive only when necessary.
    • Walk or use public transportation, when possible.
    • Carpool. Have class at the same time as your roommates? Drive to campus in one car. Going out or going shopping? Ride together!
  • Food
    • Buy only what you’ll eat! You can always go back to the store and get more, but if you buy too much and throw it away, that food and money are both gone.
    • Eat less meat and dairy.
      • Raising livestock has a much greater environmental impact than growing produce, so reducing your meat consumption, especially of red meat, reduces your environmental impact.
      • Read more about the environmental impact of meat here.
    • Cook at home.
      • It saves the gas you’d use to go to the restaurant as well as saving you money.
      • Buy local and in-season when possible.
        • These foods don’t have to travel as far to reach you, reducing the environmental cost of transporting the food.
  • Whenever making a purchase—be it jeans, food, or anything—make sure that you will actually use the item before buying. Throwing away items fills landfills and wastes your money.
  • Shop second-hand or borrow from your friends.
    • Need a dress for a special occasion, but you know you’ll never wear it again? Borrow one from a friend or buy one from a consignment shop instead of buying a brand new item.
    • Reusing already-produced items saves the materials and energy used in the production process and reduces the costs and waste associated with transporting and packaging. 
  • Donate or sell clothes, toys, furniture and other items that are still in good shape, but that you don’t need or want anymore.
    • This not only gives others the opportunity to make use of your old items, but either raises money in your community or helps pad your own wallet.
  • Repair rather than replacing.
    • Have a hole in your jeans? Patch them rather than tossing them and replacing them! It’s cheaper and better for the environment.
  • Replace disposable items with reusable ones.
    • Exchange disposable plastic water bottles for a reusable one. 
      • The type of bottle is up to you; just pick one that you like.
      • If you aren’t sick, reuse it for a few days before washing it. If you aren’t feeling well, don’t risk the germs—wash it every day.
    • Use Tupperware instead of plastic bags. 
      • Tupperware will be more expensive upfront, but the ability to reuse it ultimately makes it cheaper. 
    • Choose reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones. 
      • These can be purchased at nearly any large store, usually relatively cheaply. This one-time cost is often eventually offset, either by a small discount given for using the reusable bags instead of plastic ones or by avoiding the fee that some stores charge for using their plastic bags.
  • Save cardboard.
    • Use the same cardboard box for storage and transport multiple times. Get a package in the mail? Keep the box to reuse it next time you need to send something.
  • Recycle everything that you can! In Lexington, recycling bins are free and get picked up weekly on the same day as trash.

For more information, visit these websites:

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