4 Ways for You to Reduce Your Ecological Footprint!

You don’t need to hug trees or be an environmentalist to make a positive impact on the world around us. JMU makes it incredibly easy to recycle on campus. There are several small ways to do your part while keeping some extra cash in your pocket and saving energy...

1.    Use fluorescent light bulbs.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use way less electricity than normal light bulbs. These energy efficient light bulbs use about 75 percent ­­less energy than your standard incandescent light bulb. National Geographic has a Light Bulb Savings Calculator. Simply put in how many light bulbs you have in your room, entire apartment or house to calculate your energy impact. The results show how much energy you’re saving in addition to other national energy efficiency statistics.

You know the long overhead fluorescent lights JMU uses in dorms and school buildings? Compact fluorescents are the smaller version of those.  Although these light bulbs may be a few dollars more expensive than other options, they save money in the long run by downsizing your electric bill and outliving other bulbs. Now that’s a bright idea!

2.    Unplug your appliances.
Also, be sure to unplug your electronics after you’re done using them. I’ve been guilty of leaving my straightener on sometimes in a rush, but make sure to unplug. If you’re not frequently using an item, pull the plug.

Keeping your electronics/appliances plugged in uses something called “standby power.” When we leave our electronics like audio systems and laptops plugged in, we still consume energy—and it transfers to our electric bills. Energy Star’s site on Standby power claims that the average U.S. household spends about $100 per year on standby power. The common nickname for standby power is “vampire power,” and this type of vampire isn’t exactly your Edward Cullen.  

Note: Make sure you don’t pull the plugs out by the cord because it could strip the wire. You could also get electrocuted. Zzzt!

You could also invest in a smart power strip, surge protector or a power timer. Power timers shut off the socket after you’re done, say, charging your phone. Belkin makes some cheap (and cute!) versions of both. If you want to learn more about how electricity affects the environment, the EPA has statistics and tips.

3.    Recycle!
You’ll hear it time and time again: recycle, recycle, recycle. No matter how much hearing “recycle” may irk us, it prevents more build-up in landfills, so it’s important to recycle in every little way you can. No matter if you live in a dorm or you’re on campus for the day, JMU Recycling will sort your recycled papers and plastics out for you.

What about that Chanello’s box from last night? The answer: it depends. Use the JMU Deskside Guide to Recycling for references on which items are recyclable and which are not.  If your off-campus apartment complex or house  doesn’t recycle, bring the recyclables to campus or push your apartment complex to do so.
If you don’t have a recycling bin, you can use a basket, a small garbage can or a bucket. Check out this really cute DIY recycling bucket.

4.    Spread awareness.
If you like helping the community to be more environmentally conscious, spread the word! Tell your friends, classmates and coworkers about the steps you take, no matter how small.

Did you know that JMU is home to the Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World? In their vision, they mention, “Human health and well-being are dependent upon our ecosystems, which support, provision, regulate, and contribute to culture.” If that’s not reason enough to recycle and save some energy, then what is?

Collegiette Challenge: Comment below and tell us how you do your part, no matter how big or small.

More Information:
JMU Dining Sustainability Efforts
JMU Institute of Stewardship of the Natural World
Energy Star on "Vampire" Power
Environmental Protection Agency