Since taking on this fellowship as the Shi Center’s Green Office Fellow, I have learned a lot about the little things that individuals can do to help contribute to making their office more eco-friendly. Some of these switches seemed obvious to me as a Sustainability major, and I was kind of amazed when we would receive reports from departments that missed (what I would have considered) the easy points. But then one day, when I was talking to my roommate about the program and how people were missing the simplest points, she pointed out that if we evaluated our own apartment with these standards in mind that we would miss a good deal of these points as well.
As you read this I know someone is going to point out that an apartment/living space is very different than an office/workspace. While that is true, the specific points I’m referring to can be applied to both settings. So, by using the Green Office evaluation form as a guide, here are 5 things you can easily change in your life to be just a little greener every day.
Turn off the lights
If you are not in a room using the lights to see, you don’t need to be wasting that energy. This is something people don’t always think about, especially when they are heading out the door. By simply flicking off a switch you are saving, depending on how long you leave for, hours of energy usage. Also, natural light is your friend! If it’s the middle of the day, and you are sitting close to a window that is already providing you enough light, go ahead and turn off the overhead light!
Reuse paper before recycling it
OK, so you printed out your homework, but your roommate left the printer settings on landscape, so know everything is sideways and sucks. Don’t just stick that in the recycling bin and call it a day. Start a pile for scratch paper. This way the next time you make your grocery list you can just grab a sheet off the pile. Not only are you reusing this paper instead of wasting it, but you’re also saving clean paper (and money). If you are anything like me, that grocery list gets recycled the second I leave the store anyway.
Get rid of the little trashcans
My apartment currently has one large trashcan in the kitchen and four tiny ones in each bedroom. These little bedroom ones are completely unneeded and most of the time I end up taking them out only half full because we don’t actually use them enough for them to be necessary. This eventually means that we are adding more plastic into the landfills than necessary. So, get rid of those baby trashcans, and just use the big one in the kitchen! It also means less walks outside to empty your trashcans, as you only have 1!
Walk or bike to class
Our lovely campus is not that big. It only takes about fifteen minutes to walk from end to end, so driving isn’t worth it when you really think about it. With the amount of traffic that occurs each morning, walking is a whole lot faster, which means you get to sleep in a couple more minutes anyway! If you want even more sleep, biking is the fastest way to get around campus. So, stop putting unneeded emissions into the air, and exercise by walking or biking. You can even grab a friend from your first class and have a nice walk/talk with them before the next class.
Let go of the extra plastic in your life
Think about what you use on the daily. Think about how much of that is made of plastic. Most people know that plastic water bottles are a huge problem, but if you are one of the few still holding on to that- let it go! Invest in a refillable water bottle and use our amazing refill stations all over campus! Another source of plastic that a lot of people don’t think about is where you get your coffee, specifically K cups. They are very convenient, but they are one hundred percent plastic. Instead, try asking your roommate to go in and get a coffee pot with you. You can make one big pot of coffee in the morning and share it with the whole apartment, thus reducing the amount of plastic used by your apartment.
These small changes may not seem like a lot, but little changes can really add up. If we each made just 5 small changes, think of the energy, waste, and emissions we could eliminate!