What You Can Do
You don’t have to radically change your lifestyle in order to make a difference in your environment. Here are some simple suggestions that will help.
- When sending correspondence internally, use interoffice envelopes instead of standard mailing envelopes. They are reusable.
- Turn off your computer monitor and the lights when you leave for the day.
- Set computers and monitors to sleep mode after 15 minutes, and avoid using screensavers.
- Use re-useable food and beverage containers.
- Print on both sides of the paper or avoid printing, whenever possible.
- Purchase office supplies made from recycled materials.
- Add plants to your work space to absorb indoor pollution.
- Report leaky sinks or fountains and running toilets to Plant Operations to save water.
- Use revolving doors instead of standard ones when they are available. Revolving doors eliminate drafts, reducing the heating or cooling required for a building.
- Avoid propping open doors to the outside environment. This makes heating and cooling units work harder, therefore using more energy.
In the Lab
- Close fume hood sashes when not in use. Doing so can save up to $1,800 a year per hood.
- Turn off heating blocks at night.
- Leave PCR machines at 10°C instead of 4°C.
- Turn off water baths and other lab equipment when they are not in use.
- Upgrade to newer refrigerators and freezers — they are more efficient than existing ones. Chest freezers use less energy than upright units.
Many of the suggestions above can also be implemented at home. In addition, here are other environmentally-friendly tips.
- Unplug appliances when they are not in use. Appliances use energy even when they are just plugged in and not being used.
- Avoid purchasing bottled water. 80% of water bottles end up in land fills, and they are non-biodegradable.
- Install low flow shower heads. They reduce the amount of water used in a shower by up to 50%.
- Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. This can save as many as 6 liters of water.
- Buy in bulk or larger packages as it avoids wasteful packaging.
- Take public transportation or ride your bike.
- Ask for a hybrid vehicle when using a car service.
- When food shopping, bring your own shopping bags.
- Use compact fluorescent or light emitting diode lights — they use a fraction of the energy of standard light bulbs.
- When doing laundry, make sure the machine is fully loaded. Partial loads waste both water and energy.
- Use warm or cold water instead of hot to wash all laundry except bed linen or grease-stained fabrics. Heating water accounts for 90% of the energy used to wash a typical load.
- Use low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) cleaning products.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- When available, buy Energy Star appliances, which meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy. Although some of them are more expensive than other appliances, the savings in utility bills mean they pay for themselves within a few years.