Green Living in Residence

Last November, a province-wide competition took place between university residences in which they were encouraged to reduce their energy consumption.  A few days ago, I took part in a focus group hosted by the research team from UBC that created the competition.  What the discussion reminded me was that reducing your energy consumption isn’t something you should only do because of a competition, it’s something you should continue to incorporate into your everyday habits.  Here are some tips for those living in residence that you can do easily every day to reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room. It isn’t hard to do. Remember to also turn off the lights in your bathroom, kitchen area, and lounge. And if your RA doesn’t already do this, get them to turn off the hallway lights at night!
  • If you have a communal bathroom, don’t waste paper towel!  Bring a hand towel with you to the bathroom!  I know you’ve got one in your room, and it’s such a simple thing to do to waste less.
  • Recycle your paper, cardboard, plastic, and other used containers that can be recycled.  Every floor should have a recycle bin, so there’s no excuse for throwing it in the garbage when the blue bin is right there.
  • Unplug your printer and cell phone charger.  Actually, unplug all your electronics when they’re not in use, and if you use a power bar it’s even easier to turn them all off with one switch.
  • Don’t take the paper take-out containers from the cafeteria. If you do have to get take out, use one of the reuseable Eco-To-Go containers!
  • Take your own mug when you get coffee or hot chocolate, whether it’s from the caf or from a coffee shop.  Most shops will fill up personal mugs.  Thousands (if not millions!) of coffee cups are thrown away every day when it’s totally avoidable.  Bring your own and cut down on waste.
  • If you have a thermostat, use it. Turn down the temperature in your room in the winter, and down turn it so low when it’s hot outside. (This being said, I know the old buildings in Totem at least have no thermostat, grr!)
  • Use the shared fridge or share fridges with a friend.  Two fridges with just a carton of milk in them? Total waste of power.
  • Take the stairs, not the elevator.  Apparently, elevators use 10% of a buildings total energy, and hey, your butt will thank you too!
  • Be a vegetarian twice a week.  Beef takes a thousand times more water to produce than plant alternatives, not to mention methane gas created by the cows.  I know that beef is way to delicious to give up completely, but just cutting down on the meat twice a week will make a big difference if enough people do it!
  • No more plastic bags.  When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bags or just put whatever you got in your backpack.
  • Take shorter showers, and preferably on the cool side. Less hot water used = less energy used.
  • Use your own water bottle and drink tap water or fill it up at locations around campus. Think of all the plastic bottles you can save!

Got any more ideas that I’ve missed? Leave them in the comments!



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One Response to Green Living in Residence

  1. Here’s one:

    Get reusable chopsticks for those many delicious sushi meals that are so popular in Vancouver! Thousands of disposable chopsticks are used and thrown away every day. You can get a pair as cheaply as $2 from Daiso in Richmond (or a nicer, lacquered wooden pair from other Asian stores). :)

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