Take these easy steps toward a sustainable future
Being sustainable is not a hard thing to do. Little changes you bring to your life not only are good for the planet but can actually put money in your pocket.
First you should understand the difference between “being green” and “being sustainable.” The former often has little to do with the latter. Being green is an advertiser’s dream and a way to make money off the latest craze. Being sustainable means having the least impact, using renewable resources, producing the least waste and not causing damage to living things. Think seven generations ahead. The Haudenosaunee invented this concept as way to live and ensure that their people would survive seven generations without depleting their living and food resources.
Plugging in your television, audio-video equipment, cell phone chargers and switching the strip off can save you anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent on your electric bill. If it has an LED or a brick on the plug it is using electricity when plugged into an outlet.
Follow your local laws to reduce garbage going to landfills. (In Onondaga County there is a waste-to energy plant that burns garbage.) Recycled more material uses less natural resources and reduc road es methane production in landfills and less stoves, energy to burn the content. Purchase products video with recycled content. That closes the loop for items all the recyclables collected by supporting this Star market.
3 Buy local.
Support local vendors and you create a healthier area economy and support your community. Shipping costs are reduced and less distance is needed to provide a product, therefore less energy is used. Many local goods and products are less expensive. If you are a haggler this is right up your alley.
4 Conserve water.
Do not let the faucet run when doing dishes, brushing teeth, shaving, etc. Do only full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine. If you don’t, not only do you waste water, but energy as well. That water that comes out of your faucet is pumped from the reservoir and that takes energy.
5 Purchase Energy Star appliances.
By spending a little more upfront you can save money down the road on lower energy costs. Refrigerators, stoves, hot water tanks, televisions, audio- video equipment, computers and many other items must meet standards to get the Energy Star rating. Major appliances even list annual energy costs to make it easier to comparatively shop for the best energy saving model.
Use daylight when possible and switch to LED or Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs when your incandescent bulbs burn out. The upfront cost is slightly more but you make up for that on the other end with lower electric costs and they last longer so you save money on replacements. CFLs used to have substandard light quality but strides have been made on improving that. Turn off your lights if you are going to be out of the room for longer than 10 minutes.
7 Save gasoline.
Consolidate errands and shopping trips. Walk if you can.
Use public transportation. These actions can save petroleum, which is not a renewable source of energy. Some scientists say that we have passed the “tipping point” and there is now a diminishing supply of fossil fuel. That, combined with the world’s appetite for energy, predicts higher prices as supplies dwindle. It is in all of our interest to use less. Which brings us to. . .
8 Conserve energy.
There are many ways to do this around your house. Insulate your attic, exterior wall outlets and hot water tank and pipes, caulk windows and doors, use a timer or motion sensor for outside lights, lower your thermostat to 68 for heating (or better yet, use a programmable thermostat to do it for you) and 78 for cooling. Open window treatments for passive solar heat in the winter and close them in the summer to save on air conditioning.
9 Life cycles.
When buying non-perishable items, think about how long they will last.
Do some research before you buy. If you can spend $50 more on a refrigerator and know it will last six years longer, try to make that purchase. That translates into savings for you later and fewer resources are needed to make a new fridge. It is all about conserving resources.
10 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Use this simple motto and it will be apparent to you how easy it is to incorporate sustainability into your life with an added benefit of more green, money that is.
Steve Lloyd is the associate director for sus- tainability for Syracuse University. He is a Certi- fied Sustainability Development Professional accredited from the Association of Energy Engi- neers; has certification from APPA for Facilities Management Strategies for Campus Sustainabili- ty; is a board member of GreeningUSA and is on the Advisory Board of the Green Core Business Committee. He has been at SU since 1972 and has worked on sustainability programs, building operations, energy programs and conservation for the past 30 years.