EC Sustainability Guide

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Earlham College Sustainability Guide

text by Felicia Gray

Why be sustainable General Sustainable Living Tips Energy Reducing use/waste Efficiency Green Purchasing General On campus Food Clothing Living/studying accessories Hazardous Waste Electronic equipment Batteries Car fluids Recycling/Waste Reduction Where to recycle what (on campus) Richmond Recycling Transportation Biking Busing Owning a car Travel Walking Water Use reduction Efficiency Other living practices For Faculty/Staff In the office/classroom Commuting


Why reduce energy use Considering Al Gore’s warnings from An Inconvenient Truth it is clear that the Unites States needs to reduce it’s emissions from using natural gas energy sources. Everyone knows that cars constantly give off greenhouse gas emissions but not may people know that your home can cause more emissions than your car. Most American power plants run on coal… and thus emit many harmful chemicals, including SO4, NOx, CO2, that are very damaging to the environment. By cutting your energy use you reduce the production from these plants thus reducing the emissions and protecting the environment. Conserving energy is not the only way to reduce your greenhouse emissions, improving the efficiency of houses, dorms and cars is an important step to both save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. FACT: The average American produces about 40,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. Together, we use nearly a million dollars worth of energy every minute, night and day, every day of the year.

Reducing use/waste In a home? In a dorm? These tips are for everyone • Turn it off!! This includes lights, computers, printers, radios and other electronics. It’s also better for your computer to turn it off occasionally to rest. • Unplug it!! Even if an appliance is turned off if it’s still plugged in it’s still using energy. So electronics that only get used a couple times a day (coffeemakers, printers, microwaves, TVs/VCRs/DVDs) can get unplugged during the off times. During vacations it’s best to unplug larger appliances if possible, such as computers, refrigerators, lamps and stereo equipment. • Wash clothes in warm water instead of hot, or cold instead of warm. Rinsing can always be done on cold, as it doesn't impact the cleaning process. • In the winter, open window shades to allow solar warming during the day. At night, close them to insulate against heat loss via windows. In the summer, close shades during the day to help block the sun's warming rays during daylight hours. • Don't overdry clothes--or try using a clothesline. • Avoid over- or under-loading your dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers. Washers can use between 32 and 59 gallons of water for each cycle. Using these appliances during off-peak hours, such as mornings or evenings, helps as well. • Don't forget to clean the lint filter on your dryer! Not only does it help energy efficiency, but it can prevent fires! • Use the sleep function on your computer if you leave it for long periods of time. This is not the same as a screen saver. On PCs this can be found under the Display tab in the Control Panel and on Macs you can change your sleep mode by… •

Tips for living in a private home • Lower your thermostat a degree or two. For each degree you lower the temp, your average energy consumption drops 2%. Throw on a sweater and save money and energy! At least consider turning it down at night, when you don't really need it. • Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees. Saves energy and reduces the chance of scalding yourself with bath water. • Check your refrigerator/freezer temps. If they're 10 degrees colder than necessary, your resulting energy consumption will be up to 25% more than it could be. Fridges should be between 38 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit and freezers should be zero to five degrees. Tips for energy conserving dorm living • Hallway lights. Many dorm hallways have lights that can be turned off by students during the night or other lower use periods. Half of them can also be turned off during the day so work with your RA and other residents to figure out a good lighting system that is the most efficient. • Individually controlled temperature. If you room’s too hot in the winter instead of leaving the window wide open ask your RA or maintenance to tell you how you can adjust your thermostat (not applicable in all dorms). If you have an air conditioner (the Ws and Mills), try to leave it off as much as possible and then when your turn it on don't turn it colder setting in an effort to cool the space more quickly. It doesn't cool faster, but it does waste energy.

Efficiency • Buying an appliance? Choose an energy efficient model--it'll save you money in the long-run. When purchasing an appliance look for the EnergyStar ( logo which indicates a high degree of efficiency. Places to buy EnergyStar products in Richmond: Lowe’s, Radio Shack, Sears and Wal-Mart. Available products include: cordless phones, printers, mini-fridges, computers (Desktop and laptop) and scanners. • Buying a computer? Buy a flat screen monitor it uses up to 85% less energy than a regular one. • Lighting. If you live in your own house and pay the energy bill replacing regular light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) can save you at least $30 over the life of the bulb. Also if you have lamps in your dorm room you’ll save money buying CFLs also because they last 10 times as long as regular light bulbs. Energy efficient bulbs are available in Richmond at Lowe’s, Radio Shack, Sears and Wal-Mart.

GREEN PURCHASING What does “green purchasing” mean? Being conscious of how our purchased products are produced and how they can be disposed is key to sustainable living. Green purchasing is more of a mind-set than anything else; it promotes awareness that all purchases have both an immediate affect (through their manufacture) and a lasting effect (through their disposal) on the environment. In order to be good stewards of the environment, we should buy products that conserve energy and other precious resources. Green Purchasing minimizes negative environmental effects through the use of environmentally friendly products. These tips encourage the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle; and are designed to help students consider how their purchases affect the environment and how they can adjust their purchasing practices to reduce this impact. General • Give experiences instead of buying things as gifts. Take your brother to a ball game instead of buying him another CD. Or consider green gifts, if your heart is set on a physical gift. • Avoid excess packaging; buy in bulk or buy things with minimal packaging. • Buy recycled. Buying other people’s trash and making it your treasure not only saves you money but also reduces the amount of irretrievable items we put into dumps and landfills. On campus • The bookstore. Earlham’s bookstore offers a number of recycled and sustainable products. Check out their recycled notebooks, folders, printer paper and re-useable pens and pencils. There are also a limited number of used books in the textbook department, but they go fast because they’re also cheaper. They also have a selection of organic fair-trade chocolates,… • The coffee shop. A large percentage of the shops coffee is fair-trade and some is organic, look for these options the next time you’re in there. • Used objects. There a number of places to buy used objects from your fellow students. The seniors have a large sale at the end of the year and some houses have garage sales at the beginning of the year. Also check Around the Heart and the bulletin board in Runyan for all your big ticket items.

Food • Buy local produce when possible. Locally-grown produce is usually fresher, cheaper, and may contain less pesticides than produce shipped from miles away. Choosing organic produce is even safer, as it has no pesticides. Clear Creek Co-op has a wide variety of local produce and organic products, there is a local farmer’s market in the fall at and runs on Saturdays and Sundays from to . Kroger, Walmart and Lobills all offer some organic food, but beware: “natural” does not mean organic (look for the USDA Organic label) and often this natural label doesn’t mean anything. • Packaging. Many foods are packaged in a lot of waste material. Try to buy in bulk whenever possible (at the Co-op or…. ) and think, do you really need a plastic bag for your one onion? • Buy eggs in cardboard cartons as opposed to stryrofoam. If you buy food items in boxes, try to pick those that are made of recycled cardboard. Look for the recycled logo (as opposed to a note saying that the product is recyclable). • Washable mugs. Take your favorite mug to the Coffee Shop and ask them to put your drink in that, it adds a personal touch and reduces waste. • Buy a permanent coffee filter instead of using disposables. Permanent filters get rinses after each use instead of discarded, and usually only cost a few dollars. Clothing • Used clothing is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce waste. Check out Goodwill in the Richmond Square Mall, The Salvation Army, (other used clothing boutiques) for those purchases. On campus, almost every dorm has a free box and there is a large one in the basement of Runyan which is always full of great treasures. • Fair trade, organic. While Richmond doesn’t have the greatest selection of clothing stores or options, when in larger cities look for American Apparel (all their clothing is made in LA rather than overseas, and they also have a good selection of organic cotton), Timberline, Kenneth Cole… all of which have commitments to sustainability and the environment. Living/study accessories • Buy recycled products. This includes buying 100% recycled (post-consumer) paper for your printer. As discussed above the Earlham Bookstore carries a number of 100% recycled school supplies. • Get books and magazines through your local library instead of buying them. This reduces waste when it comes time to get rid of your People or Time collection. • is a branch of ebay that sells used textbooks and also offers a used option for purchasing books, some venders are more reliable than others but all are reviewed by previous customers. The downside of buying online is increased packaging. In Richmond there are a few used bookstores: . • Used appliances, furniture and dishes can all be bought used for much cheaper then new. Look for these items at Goodwill, the Salvation Army and… • Many cleaning supplies contain chemicals that are highly toxic to both you and the environment. You can avoid putting these into the system by buying green cleaning products at Clear Creek Co-op, . • Most paper products are bleached to lose their natural brown color but this bleaching process is a purely aesthetic action that causes deadly dioxin to be produced, and often dumped into American waterways. Look for unbleached products wherever you buy your household products.

HAZARDOUS WASTE What’s hazardous waste and why does it make a difference? There are many items that when put into the ground for disposal leak chemicals that are poisonous to the ground and all that live on it. Hazardous waste includes everything from paints, to cleaners and oils, batteries and pesticides and require special disposal. Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash. This section provides information on where to dispose of this waste in Richmond. Electronic Equipment • Televisions, unwanted electronic equipment, and some appliances are unsafe to put in the trash, as they have hazardous components in them. There are facilities to recycle these larger ticket items and in Richmond these are… Car • Need a new car battery? Make sure to patronize an establishment that recycles the old one, such as… . Same for getting your oil changed, having your air-conditioner serviced, and buying tires. • Oil and antifreeze are poisonous to the environment are not safe to put down the drain or in the garbage, in Richmond they should be taken to for proper disposal. Batteries • Batteries are also highly toxic to the environment and have to be disposed properly. Clear Creek Co-op has a battery collection and they take them to for disposal. Another way to prevent battery waste is to buy rechargeable batteries and a charger, it will save you money in the long run.