Two years ago I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Environmental Design and Analysis. I know, it’s a mouthful, but more easily put: Green Design. Although I have been out of college for a couple of years now, the practices that I learned regarding sustainability have stuck with me in my personal lifestyle as well as in my career. I currently work at an ESCO (Energy Savings Company) as a lighting designer. We provide our customers with sustainable lighting solutions that will ultimately save their companies lots of money. At home and in my non-work life, making sustainable choices has become second nature to me. I want to share some tips with my fellow Foxes on how to make more sustainable choices while also saving some cash.
Ride it – According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for almost 30% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Gas prices are high and will likely increase, so biking serves as a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money. Biking can also be a great way to explore your city from a different point of view. Hop on your bike, get some exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. Don’t have a bike? Consider googling the nearest Nice Ride Station!
Turn Down for What? – For Earth?! In the winter, turn the heat down and cuddle up in some blankets. That’s cozier anyway. Your body will adjust to the temperature change, and here's an added bonus: according to studies in the Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism Journal, spending time in cooler temperatures in the winter can boost calorie burn by up to 30%! In the summer it can be refreshing to come home to a nice air-conditioned house after a long hot day, but turn the dial up a few degrees and reduce your cooling costs; again, after a while your body will adjust to the change. Or on a breezy summer day shut the AC down completely and open your windows. Who doesn’t love some fresh air?
Flashing, Lights, Lights – The next time a conventional incandescent light bulb goes out in your house, replace it with a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) or an LED (Light Emitting Diode). Yes, the latter two will cost more upfront, but they use far less watts. And besides the fact that switching to CFLs or LEDs will save you money on your electric bill, changing light bulbs is a pain and you’ll have to do it a lot less. CFLs last more than 6 times longer than incandescent bulbs and LEDs last over 40 times longer!
Stop Buying/Using Plastic – Sadly, landfills and oceans are full of plastic, compromising ecosystems and wildlife. Stop continually paying for disposable plastic bags and plastic water bottles and invest in reusable products with a one-time payment that last longer. Next time you have leftovers and want to reach for a plastic bag, use a glass food storage container instead. Also, many companies offer BPA-free products that serve as cute alternatives for disposable plastic; Graze Organic and Snack Taxi, just to name a couple.
Get Some Balls – Dryer balls that is. Wool dryer balls are a reusable alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners. Not only will you reduce waste created by dryer sheets, but you will also reduce your drying time by 30 – 50%, saving energy and cutting down on costs. These chemical-free wool balls soften fabric and diminish wrinkles. Check Etsy.com for some cute colorful ones!