Get head start on living sustainably in 2018

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New year, new semester. So, as we start this great new year, I thought I’d share 10 tips on how to have a more sustainable 2018.

Recycle. This is one of the easiest ways to live sustainably. Recycling bins are located across campus with a color-coded system. Yellow bins are for trash and blue bins are for recycling. The residence halls do not have recycling bins in rooms, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab an extra bag to collect recycling! For information on what can and can’t be recycled, check the SDSU Recycling guide on the sustainability page of the SDState website.

Buy less. Reducing spending is by far the most sustainable action when it comes to waste. The fewer items you buy the fewer materials need to be made, and ultimately the fewer resources we need to extract from the earth.

Turn off water while brushing teeth. Running water during the two minutes you brush your teeth can waste up to four gallons of water. In one year, that adds up to 1,460 gallons, which is equal to the volume of 18 standard-sized bathtubs.

Ride a bike or walk to campus. While this may not be very appealing during harsh winter months, it’s a great habit to get into come spring. Not only does riding a bike or walking to work reduce pollution, it also makes you healthier and happier.

Ditch bottled water. Besides the environmental benefits, carrying a reusable water bottle has economic benefits, too. According to an article by the Office of Sustainability at Wake Forest University, “the average American is likely to spend $588 on 168 bottles of water” in one year. A Nalgene water bottle at Wal-Mart costs $12. Water from SDSU water fountains and bottle-refill stations is free.

Shop local. Shopping locally reduces the transportation needed to distribute goods, which lowers pollution. It also supports your community and helps maintain a viable local economy.
Unplug electronics when not in use. Did you know many electronics still use energy when they are turned off, but still plugged in? These are called energy vampires. Check out these stats from a New York Times article. A plugged-in, turned-off TV uses about 227 kilowatt-hours annually, and a computer plugged in 24 hours a day for a year uses around 235 kilowatt-hours. Both of these are “more [energy]than the average person uses in an entire year in some developing countries.”

Reusable ware. Did you know Aramark sells reusable cups, coffee mugs, to-go containers and bags? To-go boxes cost $4.99, but when you use this box you don’t have to pay the $0.50 for a disposable container. Therefore, it only takes 10 uses for the to-go box to pay for itself! Using reusable tupperware helps reduce the amount of waste we generate on campus.

Wash clothes in cold water. According to an article in The Christian Science Monitor, washing clothes in cold water uses 15 times less energy than washing clothes in hot water.

Print double-sided. Printing double-sided reduces paper usage by half! Briggs Library printers are set up to automatically print double-sided.

Jennifer McLaughlin is the SDSU sustainability specialist and can be reached at jennifer.mclaughlin@sdstate.edu

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