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Campus Life

7 Easy Steps to Live More Sustainably

By Tammy Zhang

Everyone talks about sustainability, environmental friendliness, and being "green". But what is this elusive "green"? For one, it's a lot more than when yellow meets blue. It's about leading a more conscience lifestyle, and leaving the smallest ecological footprint possible. Think before you buy, think before you use, and think before you toss. To make the shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle, here are 7 quick tips to get you on your way. Try adding a new one each day of the week and you'll achieve sustainability in no time!

  1. Think before you ink - be printer conscious
    It takes 24 trees to produce just 1 ton of paper, and an institution such as a university can use approximately 27 tons of paper a year, that's roughly 648 trees! So before you hit that print button, take a moment to consider if it really needs to be printed. If printing is unavoidable, make sure to print double sided – this can significantly decrease your paper waste (as well as lighten the pressure on your wallet). Narrow margins and smaller font will also cut down paper use. Once the double-side printed document is no longer needed, recycle it in the papers stream.
  2. Live life unplugged - Unplug unnecessary electronics
    Remember to unplug all electronics that are not in use, including all of your chargers and docks. Electronic devices that are plugged in but are not in use can still drain electricity, this is called phantom power. Spooky. If you charge your phone overnight like I do, it's good to get into the habit of unplugging the charger as well as your phone in the morning.
  3. BYOC: Bring Your Own Container!
    Every year, enough plastic bottles are town away in the United States to circle the earth four times, and 3 out of 4 of these plastic bottles end up in the landfills where they require an average of 450 years to decompose. Imagine, plastic bottles we use today will be still be around in the year 2464. This plastic waste can be effectively decreased by using reusable containers, following are several easy options that will also offer great discounts!
    1. Travel Mug
      Bringing your own travel mug can save you ¢10 on a hot beverage.
    2. Refillable Bottle (including this attractive option from Western)
      There are lots of water fountains on campus for your hydration needs, it'll also save you $5 from not having to buy a disposable bottle of water.
    3. Eco-tainer for the dining halls
      You can pay for the $5 container with your meal plan and join the Choose2Reuse program to have unlimited use of reusable takeout containers (appropriately named eco-tainers). The eco-tainers can be returned for a card when dirty, and the card can then be exchanged for a new, clean container for your next to-go meal. Check out our blog post on the Choose2Reuse program and eco-tainers!
  4. Recycle & Compost
    Recycling and composting can divert waste away from landfills and decrease the amount of toxins leaching into our soils as well as our air. Recycling will also decrease energy consumption, for example, the amount of energy required to recycle an aluminum can is only 5% of the amount of energy required to produce a brand new can! Recycling in residence (and the Western community) happens in 2 distinct streams. Meaning recyclables must be sorted into the Paper stream, and the Container stream. Composting organics will also allow food waste to be recycled at a rate that is much, much, MUCH faster than what would occur in a landfill. So be sure to compost all food scraps in dining halls or use your in-suite compost bin. Refer to the Recycling in Residence guide for detailed instructions on how to sort recycling and compost.
  5. Only buy food you can eat
    We produce enough food to feed the entire world, a billion of the world's population goes hungry every day. This is because close to 50% of all food produced worldwide is wasted. Wasting occurs all along the production process of food, from growing to harvesting, to processing, to storing, to transporting, to re-selling, and finally to consuming. These are stark and sobering numbers. But we can stop this trend by considering what we can eat, versus what we think we can eat. Buy only what will be consumed to ease our demand for food, also easing the demand on your wallet.
  6. Wait for a full load before doing laundry
    And try washing in cold water, that mustang purple will stay purple longer! Most of the energy required in doing laundry is from the heating of water. Cold water has also been proven to clean just as well as hot water.
  7. Be Conscience
    Be aware of your actions on a day to day basis and what impacts they might have on the environment, as well as those around you!
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Last Modified on August 17, 2018 2:41 PM, by [DR]