If you are interested in environmental issues and sustainability, we’ve included some great organizations and Web sites to check out.
- US Green Building Council writes the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, guidelines for green buildings.
- The Inland Energy Utilities Agency in Chino details the sustainable features of its headquarters, which achieved a LEED platinum rating on time and under budget.
- “The True Costs of Building Green,” excellent article highlighting the costs of building green (less than one might think!)
Water Resource Management
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency page on how and why to compost
Vegetarian/Vegan and Organic Food
- “What’s In Season in Your Region?” lists seasonal foods in various states
- “It’s Easy Being Green,” by Crissy Trask
- “Green Living,” by the editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
- “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals,” by Michael Pollan
- “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution,” by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
- “The World Without Us,” by Alan Weisman
- “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” by Elizabeth Kolbert
- “Silent Spring,” by Rachel Carson
- “Collapse,” by Jared Diamond
- “The Lorax,” by Dr. Seuss
- Plug all of your electronics and appliances into a power strip. Keep the strip in an easily accessible place so when you leave the room, you can turn it off. This eliminates “phantom loads,” or electricity that devices use even when they are turned off, saves you money on your electricity bill, and reduces your carbon footprint. Cool!
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. CFLs last longer and use a fraction of the energy incandescent bulbs use, saving energy as well as money.
- If you usually drive to work or school, commit to carpooling, taking public transit, biking, or walking several times a week to cut down on the greenhouse gases emitted when you drive a car.
- Use your consumer power to create demand for environmentally friendly products. Buy recycled paper notebooks, CFLs and locally grown foods to reduce the consumption of fuel needed to transport products, the depletion of virgin materials, and the energy needed to make the products you purchase.
- If buying new products isn’t your style, another option is recycled and used clothing and other items. Shopping at your local Goodwill, trendy used-clothing store, or on Craigslist is a great way to reduce demand for products made from virgin materials.
- Be an informed consumer. Use the Web sites we’ve suggested above — or find your own — to review the labor and eco-practices of companies before buying their products. Do you think their practices are fair? If not, look for companies that are both fair and eco-friendly.
- Use reusable cups, bowls, plates and silverware in lieu of polystyrene, plastic and paper. In some places, you get a discount for bringing your own dishes.
- Get involved! Whether you are an engineer, a political scientist, or a biologist, the concept of sustainability is interdisciplinary. Given the seriousness of climate change and other important environmental problems that we face as a global community today, thinking about sustainability from a variety of viewpoints is crucial to solving problems. No matter what your background, consider joining clubs on campus, starting one of your own, or getting involved with nonprofits in your area that focus on environmental issues.
If you have a great tip for saving energy, water or the environment, e-mail us and we’ll add it to our list. For more tips, Green Campus recommends reading “It’s Easy Being Green” by Crissy Trask. It’s a great book to read if you really want to know what you can do to lessen your environmental footprint.