20 helpful tips for going green

Victoria Shamrell, Assistant Scene Editor

1) Recycle, recycle, recycle

One of the most common ways to help the environment is recycling.

Central makes it easy to recycle with on-campus recycling areas in every hall, and multiple ones in the SURC.

It doesn’t take much to walk over to a recycling bin instead of just throwing a can or paper in the trash.

The new recycling cans on-campus next to the new trash cans make it even easier and more convenient to recycle when walking around outside.

2) Reusable grocery bags

Instead of throwing away all those plastic bags that you collect when buying groceries, try reusable bags instead.

Reusable bags are stronger than cheap plastic bags, and more items can fit in them.

Even here in Ellensburg a local environmental group is looking into getting plastic bags banned. Why not start using reusable bags now?

3) Don’t buy bottled water  

While bottled water is convenient, it can hurt the environment a lot.

Despite bottles being made with less plastic than in the past, they still can’t be reused. Instead, look into buying a water filter or reusable water bottle.

A water filter is great for at home use while a reusable water bottle is great for going to class, the gym and just traveling all day.  

4) Alternative transportation

It’s commonly known that automobile emissions are harmful to the environment, so while a car is convenient, it’s not worth it.

If the campus is within walking distance, walk to class instead of driving your car. One benefit of doing this is that gas is saved, plus no hunting for parking.

Try riding a bike or ride sharing with a friend if the campus is a fair distance away.

5) Change your light bulbs

Try changing all the lightbulbs in your house or apartment to help the environment. By changing light bulbs to more energy-efficient bulbs or LEDs, more energy can be saved and lower your electricity bill.

According to Energy Star’s website, one Energy Star light bulb, that sells for $6, can save between $30 to $80 in electricity over the lifetime of the bulb.

6) Thrift instead of buy new

Buying new clothes when old ones get worn out is unavoidable, but instead of going to a store and buying new clothes, try going to a thrift shop instead.

By going to a thrift shop, you can find the same clothes for cheaper prices.

In Ellensburg, try looking in Goodwill or visit the Bebe Lou vintage shop located on Pine Street.

Another alternative is to try swapping clothes with friends; raid each other’s closets and create a whole new wardrobe.

Donate all your old clothes instead of throwing them out, so that others can reuse them.

7) Portion control

America is known for its large portions, but when people can’t finish their food, the uneaten food is thrown away and ends up in a landfill.

Ask for smaller portions, or see if there is a half-size portion of the meal.

This way you can pay less and finish the food, instead of paying more for a larger portion and being unable to eat it all.

The Palace Café offers a light eater’s menu that has smaller portions than the regular menu.

8) Save water

Shorter showers or turning off the water while brushing your teeth can save gallons of water.

The environment is harmed by wasting water, so reducing the amount of water you use helps.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, the average shower lasts eight minutes and the standard shower head has a water flow of 2.2 gallons per minute. By those calculations an eight minute shower uses 18 gallons of water.

By reducing your shower time by 2 minutes, thousands of gallons of water can be saved per year.

9) E-textbooks

It’s becoming more common now for textbooks to have an e-textbook offered in addition to the physical one.

By buying an e-textbook instead of a hard copy, money can be saved and it helps reduce the impact on the environment.

An e-textbook is also more portable and easier to carry around on a tablet or other device, instead of adding to the weight of a backpack.

10) Unplug and power down electronics.

When a charger or other device is plugged into the wall, it still uses electricity even while not in use. By unplugging devices not in use, more electricity can be saved.

Another good habit is to power down your devices when you go to bed for the night, including your computer. This way they won’t continue to use electricity all night while you sleep.

11) Use Blackle

Although Google is a great search engine, its white screens uses a lot of energy. There is an alternative version of Google called “Blackle,” that is more energy efficient.

A computer monitor uses less power to light up a black screen compared to a white screen.

Blackle is run by Google and looks exactly like their regular website expect it’s on a black background. If you switch from Google to Blackle up to 750 megawatt hours per year can be saved.

Set Blackle as you homepage and start saving power.

12) Meatless Mondays

This is exactly what it sounds like. Try not eating any meat on Mondaysinstead try a salad or a veggie burger.

By abstaining from eating meat for one day per week the risk for diabetes, obesity and heart disease is reduced.

The meat industry accounts for about one-fifth of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By reducing the demand for meat, the gas produced is also reduced.

13) Say goodbye to notebooks

Instead of taking notes in a notebook, try taking notes electronically. This way no money has to be spent on purchasing notebooks and pens.

Try taking notes on a tablet or laptop, but we sure to clear it with your professor beforehand. Not every professor has the same rules regarding note taking, some may not allow it but other may be open to it.

A lot of the time taking notes on a tablet or laptop is actually quicker than writing them out by hand.

14) Turn heat down

A lot of energy can be saved by turning down the thermostat a few degrees. If you have your thermostat set at 70 degrees, try turning it down to 68.

The temperature difference will be hardly noticeable, but will help the environment.

If you’re still cold, instead of turning up the temperature, try putting on more layers like a sweatshirt or wrapping up in a blanket.

15) Ditch aerosol sprays

As much as hair spray and room freshener is necessary, try finding a pump spray or an alternative to aerosol sprays.

Hair spray comes in a pump spray and it still does its job the same as the aerosol version.

For room fresheners, in the past few years Scentsy, which is a wax the melts on a warmer, has become popular and are allowed in the residence halls.

Using these alternatives can help reduce your carbon footprint.

16) Environmentally responsible brands

When buying products from any brand, look for the environmentally responsible labels on them.  

This way, you know what brands are committed to helping the environment or making a difference.

To see a full list of what the labels look like check out this website: https://www.birchbox.com/magazine/article/the-beauty-label-breakdown/

17) No more junk mail

All that junk mail you get everyday is a huge waste of paper. A way to reduce this paper waste is by opting out of receiving junk mail.

By calling 1-888-567-8688, you can get your name taken off most mailing lists.

It’s a win-win situation for you and the environment.

18) Use cold water

Instead of using hot water to wash your clothes, try using cold water instead.

90 percent of the energy used in washing clothes goes towards heating the water, which is wasteful.

According to treehugger.com, using hot water to wash every load in a year is equal to burning about 182 gallons of gasoline in a car.

By not using hot water, not only are you saving energy and helping the environment, now you won’t have to separate your colors.

19) No trays

In the SURC, instead of using the trays to carry all your food, ditch the tray and carry what you can. This way, all the trays don’t have to washed every night and the kitchens won’t have to use as much water and soap.

Not using a tray also saves food waste, since you are forced to eat what you carried.

It also helps with portions control because not as much food can fit onto a single plate.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. generates more than 34 million tons of food waste each year and most of that waste is in landfills.

20) Lights off

In college, with living in the residence halls, you don’t have to pay the electricity bill so most people don’t care about turning off the lights.

But turning off the lights is a simple to reduce your carbon footprint by simply turning off the lights when you leave.

It helps reduce your campus carbon footprint and reduces the electricity bill.