You have many opportunities at your workplace to reduce consumption of materials. For example, if you work in a retail store and a customer is buying a pair of socks, ask them if they need a bag instead of automatically giving them one. If you work in an office and want to send a memo or newsletter, do it electronically instead of using paper. Think of all the wasteful practices in your workplace and act to correct them.
When selecting equipment and products, select those that minimize water and energy use and generate the minimum amount of waste products, including wastewater. When contracting services, select vendors who have incorporated sustainability into the services they provide, including the products they use and the means by which they manage waste products resulting from the services they perform.
You use less paper, toner and ink by printing double-sided documents. Many SU printers are capable of double-sided printing and those that aren't can still have a lower impact if you print two-up (two pages per sheet). Find directions for double-sided and two-up printing here: Double-sided and Two-up Printing Instructions (PDF)
Purchase chemical products that are "environmentally-friendly," that is non-hazardous, whenever possible. Only buy the quantity needed. Unused chemicals make up the majority of the hazardous waste requiring disposal. If you are not responsible for making these purchases, talk to the person that is.
People constantly learn from their surroundings. If you model sustainable behavior, others will follow your lead. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
Turn off lights, lamps, computers, printers, TVs, radios and any other equipment when not in use.
Many electronics such as TVs, computers, cell phone chargers, electric razors, etc. still use power when they are plugged in. If you have a second refrigerator, consolidate food into one refrigerator and unplug the other.
If you don't need lights, don't turn them on.
Read by a lamp instead of lighting an entire room.
Replace all frequently used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which use about 25 percent of the energy that incandescent bulbs use.
When it is cooler than 80°F outside, open two windows, one at the highest point of your house and the other on the shady side of the ground floor. This will create a natural airflow through your house. Also, cover your south-facing windows with light colored shades or blinds to reduce solar heat gain.
Since ceiling fans use only about as much electricity as a light bulb, they use about two percent of the electricity of a central air system.
If the heat and humidity is too much to be handled through natural ventilation and with the use of fans, then the air conditioner should be used. Set the temperature to 78°F and close all windows. Turn the A/C off or set the temperature higher when you leave the house.
This way you can avoid running the A/C or heat during the day when nobody is home but set the system to turn on before you get home.
In the winter, set your thermostat to 68°F. Set it cooler at night and when nobody is home. Make sure windows, doors and any other openings are shut tightly; if you feel cool air coming in from outdoors, fix it!
Whether it is winter or summer, insulation will protect you from wasting unnecessary amounts of energy and keep your home more comfortable.
This will not only save on water but it saves on the tremendous amount of energy required to heat water.
If you don't have many dishes to do, wash them by hand. If you use the washing machine, set it to the low power and low water modes and only use it when it is full.
Wash clothes only when they need to be washed and only run full loads. Use cold or warm water instead of hot, which will save on energy. Hang dry your clothes as much as possible. To get that stiff feeling out, throw your clothes in the dryer for five minutes.
Water outdoor plants only when necessary and only during the cool part of the morning. When you water during the hottest part of the day, 90 percent of the water can be lost through evaporation.
Set your lawnmower to the highest setting to keep your grass longer. Doing so keeps the soil shaded which prevents moisture from evaporating and keeps the grass healthier.
A bus requires much less energy per person than a single-occupancy automobile.
The bicycle remains the most efficient form of personal transportation ever invented and, of course, it uses no fossil fuels!
Even if you get 60mpg, you still burn gas by driving. Plan trips and errands to make each trip in your car most productive.
It takes a tremendous amount of energy to rapidly accelerate 2,000 lbs of steel, glass, and rubber. Save gas and reduce harmful emissions by accelerating gently.
Most vehicles get the best gas mileage around 55mph. Every mile per hour above 55 requires increasingly more fuel since wind resistance becomes the limiting factor.
Tire pressure is very important to fuel economy. Inflate your tires to the maximum PSI listed on the sidewall of the tire instead of what is listed by your auto manufacturer. The ride might be a bit stiffer than before, but you will have much less rolling resistance.
Changing your oil, replacing the air filter and doing all the other recommended maintenance will keep your car running efficiently and help it last longer. Washing and waxing even helps cut down wind resistance, but do not wash your car during drought conditions.
Always use a ceramic plate, glass and silverware when dining in. There are times when polystyrene containers are the only options. You might consider bringing your own reusable container instead.
When given the option "or here or to go," reduce unnecessary waste by dining-in.
This is an easy way of reducing consumption and saving some money!
The average American eats enough meat to get the amount of protein recommended for Olympic athletes. A meat-intensive diet is hard on the environment because livestock require lots of land area and resources to grow. Many large livestock operations also release harmful pollutants to our waterways. Locally, these pollutants are having a detrimental effect on the Chesapeake Bay.
For your own sustainability, eat well-balanced meals. If everything on your plate is the same fried-food brown, then you need to make a change.
Purchasing environmentally-friendly products is good, but not purchasing fewer products is significantly better. Focus your shopping on needs instead of wants.
Shopping online eliminates your need to drive to a store. However, be careful not to purchase goods that must travel a long way to get to you.
From office equipment to vegetables, buy products that are produced locally. Doing so promotes a healthy local economy and reduces fuel consumption from the transportation of goods.
Buying products that are packaged in larger quantities reduces the use of packaging material, but only buy what you will use.
The recycling process for #5 plastic is less efficient than other plastics. Because of the relative inefficiency, many recycling plants do not accept #5 plastic.
Use reusable bags or a backpack at the grocery store to avoid using plastic bags. The U.S. uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags per year. That's roughly 333 bags per year per person - nearly a bag per day! Some places give you a discount for bringing your own bag.
Return any plastic bags you have to the grocery store to be recycled.
If society recycles, yet doesn't use the recycled material, the benefits of recycling stop with diverting trash from the landfill. The benefits of producing from recycled material are lost. Buying products made from recycled material will close the recycling loop. It will also make recycling more cost-effective.
Look for the Energy Star logo on products such as light bulbs, windows, TVs and air conditioners. Energy Star products might cost a little more upfront, but they use significantly less energy than non-Energy Star products.
When it is time to replace your vehicle, buy a car that suits your needs and is fuel efficient. Some hybrid cars today get around 60mpg and many "standard" models get 40 mpg.
Your entrance fees to parks helps fund conservation projects.
Eco tourism is a small but growing industry that addresses all three aspects of sustainability. Nations that would rely on clear cutting, mining or other environmentally harmful practices to make money are deciding to preserve their natural landscapes to attract tourism. Money that comes in from tourism provides locals with employment and education opportunities while giving the national government financial incentive to maintain and even enhance ecosystems.
We too often think of recycling as an ultimate sustainable task. Always remember, Reduce-Reuse-Recycle is an order of processes. Reducing the amount of stuff you use should be the first priority.
You know to recycle paper, but what you might not know is that the quality of paper degrades each time it is recycled. Each time paper is recycled, the tree fibers are made smaller. After paper is recycled several times, the fibers are too small to make new paper. Thus, you are not in the clear if you recycle all your paper, yet you use it excessively.
Be mindful of how much paper you will use when printing and adjust your document accordingly. Cut down the margins. Print single or 1.5 spaced. Delete text you do not need.
In the U.S., tap water is regulated by the EPA and perfectly safe to drink. In fact, many bottled water companies actually just fill their bottles with clean tap water. Getting your water from water bottles increases plastic use, plus fuel was burned to transport the water bottles to a store. The only small risk of drinking tap water is, if you live in a house with old plumbing, small amounts of lead can leach from the water pipes into the water. In this case, buy a water filter to remove the lead.
If you need to use a paper towel, rinse it and reuse if possible (do not reuse the paper towel if it was contaminated with something that could risk your health).
Paper comes from trees, and paper cups end up in a landfill. Although a reusable coffee mug will need to be washed, using water, the production of paper cups uses water as well. Paper cups are non-recyclable because of food contamination and the plastic coating.
Place all of your paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and aluminum cans in the recycling bins around campus. Find out what your county or city lets you recycle at home.
If you have an available space at home, compost foot waste to turn it into great soil for your garden.
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