What you can do right now to live and work more sustainably.
At Your Home
- Use Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs at home which are more efficient and save money over time. For a guide to purchasing the right bulb, click here.
- Unplug devices when not in use. Many electronics continue to use energy even when they’re off.
- Wash clothes in cold water. According to ENERGY STAR about 90% of the energy used by the washing machine is from heating the water. Practice pre-treating stains and only use warm/hot water for really dirty loads.
- Upgrade to energy efficient appliances when new items are needed. Learn more at ENERGY STAR.
- Adjust the thermostat to the season and use a programmable thermostat. By adjusting the temperature just a few degrees, you can save on your energy bill and reduce your environmental impact.
- Make some energy efficient upgrades. Home improvements such as insulation, changing your air filter regularly, sealing leaks, etc. can make significant impacts on the efficiency of your home. Click here for more information.
- Take shorter showers. This not only saves water, but also saves the energy required to heat the water. Assuming you have a low flow fixture to begin with (2.5 gallons per minute) and take 5 minute showers 5 days a week, you can save 1,950 gallons of water over the course of the year by taking 2 minute showers instead of 5 minute showers!
- Do not leave water running in the bathroom or kitchen. If you don’t need it, don’t run it.
- Conserve water by only running the dishwasher/laundry when full.
- Water your lawn or plants in the morning when it’s cooler. If you water when it’s hot, more water is lost through evaporation.
Waste & Recycling
- Consume less stuff. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, millions of tons of waste are generated by Americans each year (link). While recycling is good, try to reuse things before recycling it or throwing it away.
- Recycle. Check your city for specific details. Also, if you’re wondering where to recycle certain items and you have an iPhone or Android, check out the iRecycle app. It’s free and gives you specifics on where to recycle. Earth911.com can also help you find recycling centers in your area.
- Limit your use of paper towels and napkins. Americans use billions of pounds of paper towels each year. Help reduce that consumption by using reusable clothes and using less.
- Pay bills online and reduce your junk mail. While recycling is great, the best option is to pay bills online and stop the junk mail from coming to your mailbox. There are many websites to help you. Check out: www.catalogchoice.org or www.dmachoice.org
- Use cloth diapers. Have kids? Consider using cloth diapers rather than disposable ones which are expensive, and most are not environmentally friendly. Check out the diaper buying guide from Consumer Reports or this article from The Washington Times to help you decide. You could save quite a bit of cash and prevent a lot of waste from going in to the landfill.
- Turn off your computer at the end of the day. According to ENERGY STAR, you can save an estimated $75 a year by shutting down your computer every night! Learn more at www.energystar.gov
- Turn off your computer monitor when you leave for an extended period of time during the day. ENERGY STAR estimates that turning off your monitor drops the power use by 1-3W. This can save between $10-40 annually. Learn more at www.energystar.gov
- When you enter/exit buildings, only use the handicap button if necessary. The button causes the door to open wide and therefore wastes energy, drives our energy bills up, and hurts our environment.
Waste & Recycling
- Recycle on Campus. There are receptacles located throughout campus for paper products, plastic, cardboard, glass, aluminum, and steel cans. Choose to recycle electronics, ink cartridges, batteries, etc. If you don’t know where to recycle certain items, contact the Office of Sustainability or check out Earth911.
- Use a reusable water bottle and coffee mug rather than using disposable ones. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 31 million tons of plastic waste was generated in 2010 and only 8% of that was recycled. Learn more.
- Choose to use documents electronically. When that isn’t possible, print on both sides.
- Buy recycled office materials. It often requires less energy and resources to produce goods from recycled materials resulting in conservation of resources and savings. Also, by buying products with recycled material, you are helping to create a market for these goods which in turn supports recycling efforts. It’s best to buy paper with 70% or higher post-consumer waste content.
- Carpool to campus. Carpooling has many benefits including saving money, relieving the stress of driving, reducing traffic congestion thereby helping improve our region’s air quality. If you want to carpool but don’t know anyone in your area, check out TryParkingIt.com. It is an area-wide matching system.
- Use public transportation. Like carpooling, using public transportation can save you money, relieve the stress of driving, reduce traffic congestion and help improve DFW’s air quality. There are many options in the DFW area, and UNTHSC offers discounted bus and train fare. Click here for more details.
- Ride a bike instead of driving. The City of Fort Worth has a plan to promote bicycling (http://fortworthtexas.gov/bikefw/), and the UNTHSC has bike racks throughout campus to encourage commuters.
- Drive a low emission vehicle. Driving a low emission vehicle can save money and reduce harmful emissions. Also, the UNTHSC offers a 20% discount on parking passes for these types of vehicles. Click here to learn more.
- Put air in your car’s tires and perform the recommended maintenance on your vehicle. By simply keeping the tires on your car inflated properly, you can get better gas mileage because of the reduced drag. Also maintaining your car helps it to run efficiently. For more information, check out Drive Clean Across Texas.
What You Eat
- Buy local or sustainably grown food when possible. According to the US Department of Agriculture, eating local or sustainably grown food helps the local economy, reduces pollution, and can save money. Also, the food often is fresher and tastes better, and you can eat with the changing seasons.
- Buy and eat seafood that was caught or farmed using sustainable practices. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program educates people on the issues of seafood consumption and provides consumers with guides to choosing sustainable options. Learn more about the issues and download a pocketbook to guide you in choosing fish.
- Take only what you’ll eat. In 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency found that 14% of the total municipal solid waste was from food waste. This not only has significant environmental impacts, but huge economic impacts from the cost of producing, transporting, buying, and storing that food. Be sustainable by only taking food that you will eat!
- Compost your waste. Composting is the process by which microorganisms break down waste such as food scraps and yard waste resulting in soil. For more information about composting in your area, click here.
- Replace one meal a week (when you would have eaten meat) to a vegetarian meal. By committing to eat less meat, you can help reduce greenhouse gas emission generated by the production of raising livestock and other animals.
- Become a vegetarian. By completely eating vegetarian, you help reduce greenhouse gas emission generated by the production of raising livestock and other animals.
- Bring your own reusable containers to restaurants. Since a lot of restaurants use Styrofoam, it’s best to use your own container. You’ll not only save resources, but it can also help you not overeat at restaurants.
- Use reusable grocery bags at the store. There are both environmental and economic positive impacts of using reusable bags at the grocery store and other places. Disposable bags require petroleum and other resources to produce, and stores pay money for each bag resulting in increased costs at the register. Learn more at 1 Bag at a Time.
- Buy recycled products when possible. It often requires less energy and resources to produce goods from recycled materials resulting in conservation of resources and savings. Also, by buying products with recycled material, you are helping to create a market for these goods which in turn supports recycling efforts. Look for the recycle sign on the packaging.
- Try to buy in bulk or look for products that use minimal packaging. This tip helps minimize packaging materials and therefore minimizing waste. Check out this article for more information.
- Buy durable and good quality products. Rather than using disposable products, look for items that are reusable and long-lasting. Get more tips here.
This page was last modified on July 8, 2015