10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint

MCT Campus.

MCT Campus.

Amy Cooknick

For the past two decades, environmental discussions have focused on the carbon footprint. This footprint describes the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions by a single person, process or event. The less waste you release into the environment, the smaller your carbon footprint.

There are many simple ways you can reduce your own carbon footprint without making major lifestyle adjustments.

Melanie Knowles, manager of sustainability at Kent State, shared ten ways students can reduce their carbon footprint on campus or at home.

1. Drive less; walk more

“The first way to reduce your carbon footprint is just to save energy. And so there’s a variety of ways students can do that. One would be transportation. Walk if you can, use public transportation, ride a bike, use the Flashfleets, carpool — anything you can do to drive less. The nice thing about saving energy is that it generally also always saves you money, so there’s always that benefit to it as well.”

2. Turn off and unplug electronics when they’re not in use

“Leaving computers on all the time is a big culprit. If you know you’re not going to be coming back to it for a time, go ahead and turn it off. And if it plugs into the wall, unplug it or turn off the power strip because most electronics you buy now have what we call a ‘phantom load,’ which means that even if it’s off, it’s still drawing energy. So unplug phone chargers and other electronics that are in use because those are using electricity all the time. “

3. Energy efficient light bulbs

Knowles said instead of buying regular incandescent light bulbs, buy compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.

4. Take the stairs

“Instead of an elevator. Elevators actually use quite a bit of energy.”

Knowles added that taking the stairs instead of the elevator is as good for your body as it is for the environment, which makes this tip a bonus.

5. Practice efficient heating and cooling methods

“I know most students don’t have control over things like insulation, but you can make sure that if the windows are open, that the heat or air conditioning is off. You might be willing to go a couple degrees cooler in the winter and a couple degrees warmer in the summer. We don’t want you to have to give up comfort, but you can probably save some energy and still be comfortable if you have control of your thermostat. But that depends on where you live and how your system works.”

6. Close window shades

“In the summertime, close your window shades during the day to stop heat gain in the room and reduce your air conditioning load. Then in the wintertime, you want to pull those shades at night to help keep the warm air in the room.”

7. Conserve water

“Aside from those energy-saving things, anything you do to save water saves energy, which would reduce your carbon footprint. So take shorter showers and maybe your shower doesn’t have to be so hot.”

8. Recycle

“Recycling saves energy because those products are able to go back into the manufacturing process rather than the energy being expended to harvest new materials.”

9. Buy local products

“Things that are produced locally use less energy in their transport. That also has the nice benefit of supporting the local economy. “

10. Take advantage of solar energy

“Students now have options for personal, renewable energy. It’s not just getting solar panels to put them on a building. You could get either solar chargers or kinetic energy chargers that you can then use to charge your computer or your phone or something like that. “

Knowles also said kinetic Personal Energy Generators are a good option for students because they use kinetic energy to charge electronics. These chargers can be carried in a student’s book bag or purse where they gather energy from the movement of the student while walking, running, biking or exercising.

For anyone interested in calculating his or her carbon footprint, Knowles recommended visiting ClimateCulture.com

and taking the commitment to reduce waste.

ContactAmy Cooknick at [email protected].