The Green Life, tips for sustainable living
By Christian Booz
Northern Arizona University (NAU) began an initiative to be carbon neutral by 2020. “Being a model of environmentally responsible education and sustainable operations and education” is outlined in the NAU strategic plan. With the university doing so much in the name of sustainability, the students should try to do the same. As many freshmen may not be aware, there are a lot of ways to stay green in the residence halls. If you would like to be a part of the sustainable initiative here in Flagstaff, here are some helpful tips for being green during the college experience.
The first is the most obvious, but also the most effective: turn off the lights and other electronics when you leave the room. This small change of habit can reduce your energy usage by 10 to 20 percent. Secondly, placing all of your electronics on a power strip can help reduce the “phantom power” that many electronics use and can also make it much easier to turn everything off before leaving the room. Another way to reduce your energy usage is by washing your clothes in cold water. This can reduce the amount of energy used when washing clothes by 80 percent. The residence halls can be a little devoid of nature and it makes it hard to try to be green, so bring nature into the room. Get yourself a plant to not only improve your air quality but also to remind you to be a “No Impact Jack.”
Being sustainable can go much farther than the residence halls. It can extend to your behavior around campus, as well. Start off by changing your printing habits. Print double-sided and cut down on your paper usage. Use the draft setting to reduce the amount of ink needed for each page; but keep in mind that the high-quality setting is still needed for final papers. With all of these term papers, scraps, notebooks and this very newspaper, you go through a lot of trees during the semester. This presents a perfect opportunity to either reuse or recycle all of it and cut down on the amount of paper you put in landfills.
You may have noticed the water bottle refill stations on campus. Rather than purchasing bottled water and creating a plastic landfill, buy a reusable water bottle to reduce the plastic waste. Another way you can be green on campus is by getting involved with sustainability-minded student groups and taking part in sustainability-themed courses and events. Such groups on campus are Environmental Caucus, Green Fund, SLUG, WACBAT, Green Jacks and many others. You can learn more about green student groups on campus at green.nau.edu.
From campus to the community, being green can extend all the way through Flagstaff. The city is full of local flavor, amazing people and great places. Get out there and shop local. In return you will be reducing the carbon footprint of your purchases. Buy used: There are many great thrift stores around campus where you can get everything from clothes to furniture at great prices while keeping these things out of landfills. Finally, change the way you get around town and campus. Ride a bike. Not only is this a great way to stay in shape, it is also a carbon-free way to get around town. With these tips, you are well on your way to helping NAU become a sustainable campus and carbon neutral by 2020.