Things we can do to Reduce our Environmental Impact

For a printable version click here.

 

Recommendation: Try just doing one thing listed below until it becomes a habit.  Then move on to another.  If you try to do too many things at once, it’s less likely that you will keep everything up long-term.

 

1. Bring your own reusable bag when you shop.  ← an excellent place to start!

 

 

2. Use rechargeable batteries.

 

 

3. Let your elected officials know how you feel regarding environmental issues.  The same goes for the decision makers you know in your life; parents, employer, etc.  Get involved in the political process.  Write letters, emails and postcards, make phone calls, start and circulate petitions, vote, get others involved as well.

 

4. Drink water and refill your bottles at home.  Buy a water filter if the quality of your tap water is questionable.  Remember, water is much healthier than most drinks you can buy and refilling at home will save you money.

 

5. Try not to throw things in the garbage.  See if you can sell them or give them away.  Use things up completely (ex. soap, ketchup, etc.).  Compost.  Don’t create unnecessary waste.  Do you really need to wrap that sandwich in aluminum foil or can you carry it in a reusable plastic container?  Does that <whatever food> really need to be wrapped in plastic cling wrap or can you use a reusable plastic container?  The plastic bag that you used to put the apples in at the store (that then went into your reusable bag at the checkout for the ride home, hopefully) – can that be reused at least once before you throw it out?  For example: Do you really need a brand new “plastic baggie” to store that head of lettuce in your refrigerator?

 

 

6. Avoid disposables in all forms.  What did people use before the disposable version was invented?

 

7. Be Efficient; it’s not only good for the environment but it will save you time and money:

·        Use both sides of a sheet of paper.

·        Plan your errands and do them all at once.  Not only is this good for the environment but it saves you time as well!

·        Carpool

·        Buy paper towels that allow you to use smaller sheets (select a size type)

 

8. Use electronic communication instead of paper.

 

9. Keep your tires properly inflated and your car well maintained.  You will use less fuel and your car will last longer and work better.

 

10. When choosing a place to live, live near where you work.  It will save you time and money in commuting; not to mention wear and tear on your car. 

 

11. Try not to use your car.  Take advantage of public transportation.  Walk, bike or rollerblade (if it’s safe); it’s much healthier than driving!  Take the stairs as opposed to the elevator.

 

12. If you need a car, why not buy a hybrid or a vehicle that runs on an alternative fuel?

 

13. Use your parks and nature preserves!  If the amount of visitors to a specific park/nature preserve drops below a certain level, we are in danger of losing it (or having it’s usage changed and developed into something more popular).  If we don’t use them we may lose them.  Get out and enjoy nature and you will better appreciate what you are working to save as an environmentalist.  Plan regular trips to the outdoors.

 

14. Reduce your junk mail.  Contact the Direct Marketing Association to get off of various types of mailing and telemarketing lists:

https://www.dmachoice.org/MPS/mps_consumer_description.php

http://www.dmachoice.org/consumerassistance.php

You can also opt out of receiving many catalogs through the link below:

http://www.catalogchoice.org/

 

15. Pay your bills online.  Eliminate paper waste and the environmental impact of transporting your letter.  Paying bills electronically also reduces the probability that some underpaid, overworked minimum wage worker will make a mistake when entering your payment information into their computer system, causing you endless frustration in trying to rectify the problem.

 

16. Don’t leave the refrigerator (or freezer) door open longer than necessary.

 

17. Turn down the heat and use less air conditioning. 

 

18. Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use.  In the average home, 40% of electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off but still plugged in.

 

19. Clean your refrigerator coils regularly to make sure your refrigerator is operating efficiently.  This will save energy and extend the life of your refrigerator.

 

20. Consider adding more insulation and weather sealing to your home.

 

21. If you replace your windows, replace them with energy efficient ones.

 

22. Clean/replace filters (air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, etc.).  This will save energy.  Keep in mind that reusable filters are preferred over disposable.

 

23. Use a fan instead of an air conditioner when practical.

 

24. Plant deciduous (lose their leaves in winter) trees where they will shade your house from the sun in the summer to save you energy.  When they lose their leaves in the winter, the sun will shine on your home, also saving you energy.

 

25. Only air condition the rooms you really need to (instead of your entire house).

 

26. Get an energy audit done on your home.

 

27. If you’re not using it, turn it off: lights, television, computer and peripherals, etc.

 

28. Be conscious of how much water you are using when you take a shower, wash the dishes, brush your teeth, etc.  Install water-conserving devices where appropriate.

 

29. Fix any leaky faucets, toilets, shower heads, etc.

 

30. Buy locally grown foods and locally produced manufactured goods when you have a choice.  Locally grown foods are generally better for you (higher nutritional value and the right balance for your area, foods stored and transported long distances tend to lose nutritional value).  They also don’t have to be transported as far so there is less environmental impact due to transportation.  Buying local also helps your local economy.

 

31. If you have a choice, buy organic foods.  They are generally healthier and were produced in ways that did not impact the earth as negatively as non-organic foods.

 

32. Maintain a garden!

 

 

33. Plant a tree/acquire a house plant – you don’t even have to buy plants; get a clipping from a friend.

 

34. Use organic fertilizers and environmentally friendly types of pest and weed control.

 

35. See if you can use something you already have instead of buying something new.

 

36. Watch less television – the advertising makes you feel that you have inadequacies that can be easily overcome by spending money on things you don’t really need.  We are perpetually bombarded with this message to buy buy buy!  Watching less TV will also conserve electricity and hopefully free up time for you to do more worthwhile things – like visiting your parks and nature preserves.

 

37. Buy efficient vehicles, appliances, light bulbs, etc.

 

38. Buy things that are made to last and easy to maintain.

 

39. Buy environmentally friendly products.  Consider the raw materials used, production processes and what will happen to the materials when you dispose of a product.  Also consider the people involved in producing any product and bringing it to you.  Do you want to support the exploitation of children in the factories in China and undermine American jobs or do you want your money to go to American workers?

 

40. When making financial investments (401k, etc.), invest in environmentally and socially responsible funds, etc.

 

41. Don’t buy or use too many power tools.  Use hand tools.  How many of us really need a power screw driver?  Can we use a rake or a broom instead of a blower?  Besides the environmental impact and expense of manufacturing them, using them, maintaining them and disposing of them, they tend to take up more space than their manual equivalents and don’t last nearly as long.

 

42. Try cooking more and avoiding take-out foods (excessive packaging, more expensive and typically not as healthy as the home cooked stuff).  When buying take-out, don’t take the plastic utensils, disposable plates, salt and pepper packages, ketchup packages, etc.

 

43. Pick one or two environmental issues to become an expert on and become a crusader!  Fight for your issue.  Contact your politicians.  Make others aware and recruit supporters to help you make a positive difference.

 

44. Pursue environmentally friendly recreational interests; canoeing instead of power boating, hiking instead of using all-terrain vehicles, etc.

 

45. Try to leave every place you go better off than before you were there.  An easy way to do this is to pick up garbage – particularly if you are out in nature.  When you are out and about in general, if you see things like batteries lying on the ground, pick them up and store them until you can properly dispose of them.  They do not belong in the regular garbage.  See below for more information:

 

Disposing of Batteries, Computers, Cell Phones and other Electronic Devices

 

Batteries should be disposed of at your local S.T.O.P. program or equivalent.  Contact your local town for more information.  Remember batteries are highly toxic and do not belong in the regular garbage, landfills, or incinerators. 

 

See if you can also save computers and other electronic equipment (known as E-Waste) from the regular garbage because they contain highly toxic components (including lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and others) that are better off recycled.  These things should not be buried or burned.  This is one of the major pollution issues of the 21st century. 

 

Donate computers and electronic devices if they still work (National Cristina Foundation, www.cristina.org, is one organization that accepts computers).  Some computer manufactures such as Dell, take back old computers for recycling if you buy a new one from them.  More computer manufacturers are starting trade-in and recycling programs.  Not all towns on Long Island have E-Waste recycling programs but many do.  The Long Island Sierra Club maintains a current list of where you can dispose of E-Waste: http://newyork.sierraclub.org/longisland/ElectronicRecyclingonLI.htm

 

 

46. Educators: can you post more things on the internet as opposed to making handouts?

 

47. For written material that needs to be printed, a smaller font size may save paper.  You can also try playing with the margins.  Use both sides of a sheet of paper whenever possible.  Next time you need to buy printer, purchase a duplex printer (prints on both sides of a sheet of paper).

 

48. Do you need to use a whole sheet of paper for everything you print, particularly where multiple copies are warranted?  Consider printing more than one copy of the information on a single page and then cutting it up.  At tabling events, the NCC Environmental Club gives out a little green “Calling Card” with our Name and web address along with the message, “All meetings, events and activities are posted on the web.”  We fit eight of them on a single 8.5x11 page and then cut them out.  Click on the hyperlink to the card on this website to see what it looks like.

 

49. Think and be conscious about where things come from and where they go.  Is there a more environmentally friendly alternative?  Do you really need it now?  Discuss sustainability with others.  Make others aware of these issues and set a good example.

 

50. Join an environmental organization or two.  For NCC Students, the NCC Environmental Club is a great place to start :)  Educate yourself and others.  “Knowledge is power.”  Network with other like-minded people.  Pick at least one organization to support with your time, energy and of course, they need money to carry on their good work.

 

51. Display a message in support of the environment; bumper stickers or magnets, pins, t-shirts, etc.

 

52. Buy recycled products.  If you don’t buy recycled products, it will make it harder to get things recycled.

 

53. And of course, RECYCLE!

 

 

 

 

Feel free to send me more ideas in order to expand this list!

-Professor Girolamo

Eric.Girolamo@ncc.edu