Good ideas from Aaron Smith

Use a reusable coffee mug instead of disposable cups.

Disposable coffee cups create unnecessary waste in landfills.  If you drink one cup of coffee in a disposable cup each day, you’ll create over 10 pounds of garbage each year personally.  That might not seem like much, but think about how often you have to wait in line for coffee at your favorite café, and you’ll realize how quickly that adds up.  Plus, every coffee shop on campus (including Starbucks) offers 99 cent refills of brewed coffee for any reusable mug, so you can save some money as well.

Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.

Even though water bottles are recyclable, it still requires energy and resources to produce and recycle them, all of which can be saved by using a reusable bottle.  Also, many of the major brands of bottled water are simply filtered municipal tap water.  You can get basically the same for free by using your kitchen sink or any of the convenient water bottle refill stations located on drinking fountains across campus to fill up your reusable water bottle.

Turn down the heat.

It’s been a cold winter this year, but your furniture doesn’t mind.  If you have a programmable thermostat at home, program it to turn the heat down to 60 degrees when nobody’s home, and back up to 68 degrees when the house is occupied and put a comfortable sweater on.  If you don’t, just remember to turn the thermostat down a touch when you leave for work and back up when you get home.  Also, if you have rooms in the house that are rarely or never used during the winter, close the heating vents and seal them off with a towel under the door.  This will keep them from being heated for no reason.  It may take a little time to get in the habit, but you’ll see the savings on your heating bill.

Unplug your electronics.

Even when devices aren’t on, they draw some power if plugged into the wall.  This is especially true for chargers.  So, unplug any appliances and electronics if they’re not frequently used.  This can mean your toaster, coffeemaker, breadmaker, television, printer, etc.  If that seems like too much of a pain, put multiple appliances and electronics on power strips.  That way all you have to do is flip a switch and you’ll be saving energy.  You can put all your computer paraphernalia on one strip, and put your TV, DVD player and stereo on another and only turn them on when you’re using those devices.

Send E-Cards instead of paper cards.

Although Valentine’s Day has come and gone, there are always occasions when a thoughtful or humorous card seems appropriate.  However, cards often end up in landfills once the holiday or special occasion has passed.  E-Cards (online greeting cards) have many advantages over traditional cards, the most obvious being that they don’t create extra waste.  Also, most E-Cards are more interactive and often are video based, giving you a whole new way to express your feelings.  Many E-Cards are also completely free, saving you money.  And doesn’t that make it worth checking out?

Bored?  Read a used book.

Books are a time-tested form of entertainment—there’s a reason people have been reading them for hundreds of years.  Next time you get bored, head to a used book store.  You can get a quality book for usually more than half off the jacket price, and you won’t be using up resources to print a whole new copy just for one read.  Alternately, there are many stores and cafes that have book swaps, where you can exchange one of your books for another.  You can also trade your books around with your friends, coworkers and family.  Plus, reading them only requires the light that you’d have on while watching TV anyway, so you’ll be saving energy as well.


Submitted by Aaron Smith

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