American Studies

Suggested Personal Sustainability Actions


  • Don't use a space heater.
  • Don't open windows or doors (exterior or vestibule) when heat or air conditioning is on. Close storm windows in winter.
  • Use cold water for laundry, and dry clothes on a line or drying rack.
  • If able, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Turn off unneeded and unused lights, appliances, and computers.
  • Set sleep or hibernate modes on all computers to power down after 15-30 minutes.
  • Use natural light, and choose desk lighting instead of overhead lighting when needed.
  • Use CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs) or LEDs for personal lighting.  Recycle through Bill Nelligan at Physical Plant.
  • Use power strips for all electronics that use "vampire energy" (computers, printers, water coolers, coffee pots, TVs, etc.).
  • Eliminate individual mini-fridges and printers.  Share with your office or a friend.
  • If you have a dishwasher, fill it completely before running and let dishes air-dry.


  • Carpool with coworkers or friends.  Try out the campus Rideboard.
  • Use public transportation (including The Ride) whenever possible.
  • Walk or bike, especially on campus and when going downtown.
  • Never travel via airplane for trips under 350 miles.
  • Use videoconferencing software instead of travel.
  • If you are in the market for a new vehicle, shop for a higher-mileage, hybrid, or electric model. Lighter, smaller cars are typically 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 greatly 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.

Waste and Consumption

  • Join the Wesleyan Freecycle listserv to give and get personal and office items.
  • Seek items that are reused, reusable, or with recycled content.
  • Recycle all glass, metal, plastic, paper, and cardboard, 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.
  • Compost food waste.
  • Recycle ink cartridges, electronics, CDs, batteries, and light bulbs.
  • Print only when necessary.  Double-side copies, reuse paper, and default to 0.5" margins to conserve paper.
  • Buy paper with at least 30% recycled content and/or FSC certification.
  • Share reusable office and kitchen supplies with coworkers, family, and friends.
  • Reuse packing materials or share via Freecycle.
  • Reuse bags, cups, and cutlery, and bring them with you.
  • Unsubscribe from junk mailing lists.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Buy in-season, local, organic, and/or sustainably produced foods and drinks.


  • Reduce water consumption by taking shorter showers (<5 minutes), turning off water while brushing teeth or washing dishes, and reducing irrigation use.
  • Don’t buy bottled water.
  • Save Water 49 Ways