Suggested Actions as part of the Wesleyan Community Climate Commitment
Save gasoline by using alternative transportation, carpooling, and driving more slowly.Walk or bike whenever you can, especially on campus. When you purchase your next vehicle, shop for a higher-mileage model. Lighter, smaller cars are always more fuel-efficient. Reduce the number of car trips you take each week; for example, make good shopping lists to minimize trips to the grocery store. Driving more slowly great increases your mileage.
As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas. (fueleconomy.gov)
ITS has developed a Ride Board for both student carpools and employee commutes. Make use of it!
Use CFL bulbs -- compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Project SAVE has been making bulbs available to incoming students and others on campus as part of a special promotion, they are now handed out at the Cardinal Technology Center in Usdan to students, faculty and staff, just show your ID card. CFL bulbs are also available for purchase at Weshop, and are readily available at local supermarkets, hardware stores, and home stores. They may cost a little more to purchase initially, but will save 75% of the energy (lowering electricity bill costs) and last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs. This will dramatically decrease the number of times you’ll need to buy a new bulb, saving even more money in the long run.
If every American home replaced just one light bulb with a CFL bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars. (Energy Star)
Reuse bags, cups, and mugs
This will save the waste of manufacturing, shipping, and disposing of unnecessary paper and plastic bags, cups, and plastic bottles.Human Behavior, Global Warming, and the Ubiquitous Plastic Bag (New York Times)
Don’t buy bottled water.We are working with Bon Appétit to find ways to reduce our use of bottled water on campus. Individuals can help by not buying it. Transportation of bottled water is an unnecessary use of gasoline, and other statistics associated with bottled water’s impact on the environment are staggering:
- The EPA has stronger regulations for tap water than the FDA has for bottled water. Thus, bottled water is not necessarily safer to drink.
- An estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle--sometimes further treated, sometimes not. (NRDC)
- 86% of plastic water bottles in the US become garbage or litter, which is 30 million bottles a day. (Container Recycling Institute)
- Sent to the landfill, the bottles can take up to a millennium to biodegrade.
- Globally, 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water per year.
- 1.5 million barrels of crude oil is used to produce the water bottles consumed by Americans each year. This amounts to enough to fuel about 100,000 US cars for a year.
- Bottled water is 5,000 times more expensive than tap water.
- Americans spend over $15,400,000 on bottled water every day.
- Bottled water companies enter communities, dry up their local water resource, and degrade aquifers. This often leaves communities without an adequate safe water source. (Earth Policy Institute)
- Over one third of the world faces serious water shortages. (United Nations Environmental Programme)
- $100 billion is spent on bottled water annually. One year’s worth of bottled water expenditures could completely cover the development of efficient and sustainable water infrastructure throughout the entire world, three times over. (UN Millennium Development Goals).
Don't open windows when heat or air conditioning is on.
Close windows when the heat or air conditioning is on to avoid wasting energy. If your room or office is too warm or too cold, turn the heat down, or the air conditioning down. If you have no way to do this, report the problem to Wesleyan Physical Plant Customer Service at (860) 685-3400 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open windows are good when the heat or air conditioning isn’t on! If you can keep your thermostat set to a few degrees higher in the summer, and a few degrees lower in the winter, you’ll save a lot of energy.
Purchase carbon offsets.There are some trips that we need to make, and buying carbon offsets is a way to lessen the overall impact to the earth. These inexpensive purchases help to fund projects that save energy or sequester CO2 elsewhere, e.g. tree planting or energy efficient retrofits. Offsets are certainly not a permanent solution, but they’re a good start.
Undoing Your Daily Damage to the Earth, for a Price (New York Times)
Carbon Offsets (Wikipedia)
A Consumer's Guide to Retail Carbon Offset Providers (PDF) (Clean Air Cool Planet)
Carbon Calculator and Offset Purchasing (TerraPass)
Carbon Calculator and Offset Purchasing (BeGreen)
Carbon Calculator and Offset Purchasing (ClimateCare)
Buy local food.Buying locally grown food supports local agriculture, saves transportation energy costs of shipping food over long distances, and probably tastes better. It’s very difficult to eat totally locally, but it would make a difference if everyone tried to do it as much as they could. It’s hard to know where your food is coming from -- ask at your supermarket, or at the restaurants you patronize, and let them know that you would like that information on their labels and menus. Buy your food at farmers markets whenever you can.
Local Food (Wikipedia)
Local Food Locations (LocalHarvest)
Turn off unused lights, appliances, and computers.It’s easy enough to shut off the lights in a room you are leaving (if no one else is there.) There are instances where it is important for some safety reason to leave the lights on. Installing lights on motion detectors can be an option.
The kind of appliances that you might want to turn off if you aren’t using them include coffeemakers that keep water hot for instant use, or electronics that have a light, clock, or some other kind of display. Consider unplugging the ones you’re not using, as they drain electricity even when the power is not on.
ITS is currently running a study of specific computer-related electronics to determine the electrical loads they draw when on, or in sleep mode, and will have data on when it is best to shut them off to save energy. The results of this study are expected by the end of the year and will be disseminated.
Putting Energy Hogs in the Home on a Strict Low-Power Diet (New York Times)
Pulling the plug on standby power (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Use cold water for laundry.
Most laundry detergents today are formulated to work well in cold or warm water. Avoiding hot water as much as possible will save energy, and may also keep your colors brighter, and your elastic safe from early deterioration!
Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half! (DOE)
Laundry Tips (US Department of Energy)
Conserve water.Anything you can do to decrease your water usage will have positive impacts. There is energy used to pump, purify, and heat water, and also to carry it away. We are fortunate to have plenty of clean water here, now, but this may not always be the case. There are places in the US and abroad that struggle to provide enough clean water for basic needs. If you use a dishwasher, newer models are Energy Star-rated, and use much less water and energy than older models.
- Readily accessible freshwater makes up 0.014% of all the water in the world.
- In the US, groundwater is being used up 25% faster that it’s being replenished.
- By 2025, 48 countries are expected to face water shortages affect upwards of 2.8 billion people.
- Potable water in Middletown comes from reservoirs in Connecticut and aquifers along the Connecticut River. These sources are finite, and a decrease in water consumption means a lessened impact on these ecosystems.
Save Water 49 Ways (American Water & Energy Savers)
Recycle.Recycle as much as you can, and pay attention to recycling properly. If there is too much “contamination” in a load of recyclables, it will go into the trash instead of being recycled. In addition to glass/metal/plastic, and paper, Wesleyan has recycling containers in different areas of campus for cardboard, Styrofoam, electronics, batteries, CDs, aerosol cans, shoes and clothing, and ink cartridges.
Complete recycling information can be found at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/recycling and questions can be emailed to: email@example.com.
CFL bulbs are a new item that needs to be recycled. When you are done with one, please put it either in a small box, or in a zip-lock-type baggie and recycle it. The Wesleyan community can bring CFL bulbs to the information desk of the Usdan Center to be recycled, or can contact Physical Plant for a pickup. CFL bulbs contain mercury, which is a “universal waste.”
Report necessary repairs to Wesleyan Physical Plant.Students and employees of Wesleyan should contact Physical Plant if there are repairs or renovations needed in their residence or office building. Wesleyan Physical Plant Customer Service can be reached at (860)-685-3400 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some requests will be able to be taken care of quickly, and others may need to be added to a capital improvements plan and be done when funds are available. (Sorry, but Physical Plant can’t take care of employee’s problems at home!)
How do all the above help save the world? Check out these sites to learn more.
Global warming information:
BBC Weather Centre
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies
United Nations Environment Programme
BBC News: Climate Change Q&A
Presidents Climate Commitment
Campus action in the Northeast (Clean Air Cool Planet)
Carbon “footprint” and an individual carbon calculato