Everyone can contribute to a healthier environment by taking simple, every day actions. For example, you can make a difference by using energy wisely, conserving water, and keeping sustainability in mind when shopping or apartment hunting. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
- Go Paperless
Tips to Reduce Paper Usage
Due to a fire at the only U.S.-based paper mill that makes recycled paper, it is possible that there will be a paper shortage for a period of time. Below are some ways to reduce your paper usage so as to reduce the strain on a potential national shortage.
With that said, we recognize that many of you have already created paperless solutions due to the past two years with COVID. We applaud your efforts and thank you for helping us reduce our environmental and fiscal impact!
- Replace paper copies of documents with cloud-based storage, such as Microsoft programs like SharePoint, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
- Use digital apps that serve different purposes, like Microsoft Teams as a communication tool. Check out ITTS help documents for Teams as there are many things you can do with Teams to organize virtual documents.
- Print double sided.
- Send agendas prior to meetings, so there is no need to print and bring copies to everyone.
- Utilize our campus e-signature software, such as Adobe Sign, when documents are needing to be signed.
- If you have printed documents, use blank sheets as notes and to-do lists before recycling.
- Be mindful of the types of supplies you and/or your office purchases. Consider buying items that are reusable, made out of recycled materials, etc. Staples has office supplies available for purchase that provide greener options for offices.
- Use digital marketing strategies instead of printed.
For more tips, check out Envoy.com's '10 ways to go paperless at work'.
- Conserve Energy
CSUSM is committed to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our campus operations. The University has already implemented programs to reduce our carbon footprint by investing in energy efficiency and green energy. The following tips can help students, faculty, and staff use energy wisely on campus and off.
Computers and electronics
- Use energy efficient settings for computers, printers, and other devices, and shut devices down when not in use.
- Use smart power strips to power down devices that are not in use, reducing standby power usage.
- When purchasing computers and other electronics, look for products that have earned ENERGY STAR® or EPEAT certification.
- Use task lighting with energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs. Small task lights at desks can be more efficient than full overhead lighting.
- Turn off lights that are not in use.
- Make use of natural lighting by opening shades and turning off lights during daylight hours.
- Check the temperature settings in your space. Recommended settings are 68°F during the heating season and 76°F during the cooling season. If your space on campus is too hot or too cold, report the issue to Facilities.
- Keep windows closed when heating or air conditioning systems are running.
- Avoid using space heaters. Space heaters are less efficient than central heating systems and can be fire hazards.
- Save money during the summer months by using a fan to cool down rather than air conditioning. If you do need to use an air conditioner, make sure it's ENERGY STAR® certified and that your windows are closed and sealed.
- Wash clothes in cold water to conserve energy used for water heating. Detergents are equally effective in cold or warm water.
- Use a drying rack rather than a dryer to save money and energy.
Refer to the following resources to learn more about reducing energy use in your space.
- ENERGY STAR: Find energy efficient electronics and appliances along with tips for reducing energy use.
- U.S. DOE Energy Saver: Get tips on saving energy and money throughout your home or workplace.
- EPEAT: Find greener computers and other electronics.
- Standby Power: Learn about reducing standby power.
- Eat Sustainably
CSUSM is committed creating a food system that benefits our community, food producers, and our environment.
There are several benefits to eating food that was produced locally. A shorter distance from farm to table mean less energy is used to haul the things we eat. And fresh, local foods that are in season can be especially delicious. Shop at a farmers’ market and you’ll also be supporting local producers.
Production of meat, particularly beef, is extremely resource intensive. To reduce your environmental footprint, try incorporating some meatless meals into your diet.
Choose sustainable seafood
Overfishing and other harmful fishing practices have pushed many of the world’s fisheries to the brink of collapse. You can help protect aquatic ecosystems by selecting seafood that is caught or farmed responsibly.
Look for organic products
Organic agriculture practices protect the environment by minimizing the use of synthetic materials such as pesticides and antibiotics. The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets standards that producers must meet in order to label products as organic.
- Find Green Homes
When looking for a new apartment or house, here are a couple questions to ask landlords to determine your new home's green features.
- Does the shower have a low-flow shower head? If not, can one be installed?
- Is the toilet a low flow toilet?
- Are any of the faucets or pipes leaking? If so, how fast is the repair time?
- Do the windows, doors, and walls provide good insulation? Are there any cracks?
- Do the windows have curtains or shades to provide extra insulation during the winter? If not, can they be installed?
- Is there good natural lighting in the unit?
- Do the lights have CFL or LED light bulbs? If not, can they be installed?
- Can the heat be controlled in individual units?
- Is there a programmable thermostat in the unit?
- Do the washing machines offer cold-water washing?
- Is there a place to hang clothes while they air dry?
- Is the hot water heater insulated?
- Are the kitchen appliances efficient? Are they ENERGY STAR Certified?
- Reduce waste
- Does the building offer recycling?
- What can/cannot be recycled?
- Can composting be done on the premises?
- Is there a bike room or rack?
- Is the building near public transportation options? A car sharing service?
- How close is the building to grocery stores? To locally-sourced produce?
- Purchase Consciously
You can reduce your environmental footprint by making smart decisions about what and how much you buy. Here are a few tips for more sustainable shopping.
To conserve resources and reduce resource use, the first step is simply to avoid unnecessary purchases. Buy only what you need, avoid excess packaging, and purchase products designed to last rather than items that will quickly end up in the trash.
You can also conserve resources by choosing reusable products over disposable items. For example, carry a water bottle and a reusable bag for shopping, and get discounts on coffee at the Coffee Cart with a refillable mug. You can also reuse by shopping at thrift shops and second hand stores.
You can help save energy, conserve resources, and reduce waste by buying products made from recycled materials. Look for products that include recycled content, as well as products that can be recycled.
Shop to save energy
When shopping for electronics or appliances, look for energy efficient options. ENERGY STAR products are independently certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. You can also save energy use by using a smart power strip to automatically power down electronics that aren’t in use. Learn more about energy-saving actions and products on the conserve energy tab.
Choose sustainable foods
To reduce the environmental impact of your food purchases, look for local, organically produced foods. Choose sustainably sourced seafood, and cut back on meat consumption. Get more tips for environmentally friendly foods on the eat sustainably tab.
Hold the packaging
Reduce waste by avoiding items with excessive packaging. Look for minimal packaging or buy in bulk to cut packaging waste.
Go with green cleaning products
Look for cleaning products that are free from harmful chemicals. The Safer Choice Label identifies products that have been reviewed by U.S. EPA scientists to meet stringent human health and environmental criteria.
- Save Water
CSUSM is working to reduce water consumption on campus, and all members of the University community can pitch in to help conserve this essential natural resource. Here are some actions you can take to save water.
- Check for leaky faucets or other water fixtures. Report any leaks on campus to Facilities Management.
- Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Be conscious of the amount of time you spend in the shower and keep showers as short as possible.
- Run full loads of laundry rather than multiple small loads. If you do need to run a smaller load, adjust the water level settings accordingly.
- Use the dishwasher if you have one, and only run it when it is full. Try scraping plates rather than rinsing them before loading the dishwasher.
- When hand washing dishes, fill a sink or basin with soapy water rather than keeping the water running.
- Install efficient fixtures such as low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators in your home.
- If you have a lawn or garden, create a water-smart landscape using native plants that rarely need watering, water efficiently, and make the most of rain water by setting up a rain barrel or rain garden.
- Zero Waste Tips
Journey to Zero Waste
To be Zero Waste is to completely redefine the system, to move to a circular economy and write waste out of existence. The journey to zero waste is not an easy path as it takes a lot of lifestyle changes. Check out the links below to start your journey off right!
- Follow this link to learn more about zero waste and why it matters
- Check out this guide to reducing your waste in college
- Here's a list of zero waste swaps
- For the craft lovers: here's some ideas for zero waste DIYs
- Check out these tips on how to be zero waste without access to bulk options
- When you're feeling up to it, take the zero waste challenge
- Sustainable Graduation
Sustainable Graduation Photo Ideas
Glitter and Confetti are not allowed on our campus. Help keep our beautiful campus clean with some crafty alternatives to your graduation photos.
Take the Sustainability Graduation Pledge
By taking the Pledge, you are defining for yourself what it means to be socially and environmentally responsible. Learn more and take the pledge!
Sustainability After Graduation
Sustainability can be applied in your everyday life beyond the walls of CSUSM. Check out how to #AdultSustainably after graduation!
- Local Sustainable Businesses
Sustainable Local Businesses
Interested in supporting sustainable local businesses throughout San Diego? Here are some awesome places to check out!
- Refill stations/zero waste product stores:
- Restaurants/Food Places:
Environmental Impact Calculators
What is the Ecological Footprint?
The ecological footprint is one of the most comprehensive methods to measure the environmental impact of a person or population. It is expressed in square meters and indicates how much of the planet is needed to regenerate the resources consumed and to dispose the waste. The larger this area, the greater the environmental impact of the individual or the population is considered.
What is your Ecological Footprint?
- Have you ever looked at your ecological footprint?
- How about your water footprint?
- Do you know how many earths you need to fulfill your current life style?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, consider taking the quiz challenge below to find out how much you are consuming and how large or small your footprint is. Then take action to reduce your footprint!