BY LAUREN BERIONT
Published November 28, 2011
As a student studying environmental sciences, I am constantly exposed to information about recycling, waste reduction and energy consumption. Yet after talking to my non-environmental studies friends, I realized that this information, although seemingly omnipresent, never fully permeates the brains of University students. You see signage on light switches about turning off lights or advertisements asking you to “Go Green." University President Mary Sue Coleman even addressed the student body saying, “Sustainability defines the University of Michigan. Combine maize and blue, and you get green.” We know everyone wants us to be ‘green,’ but how do we achieve a sustainable lifestyle? More importantly, why do we want to be sustainable? What’s so wrong with de-stressing with a 30-minute shower or having the TV on as background noise when studying?
Noticeably, the atmosphere we inhabit directly limits the decisions of college students, but there are very easy choices we can all make to start this culture shift to environmental consciousness. In the end it will benefit our posterity, our Earth and, most obviously, our pockets. With all of the enthusiasm surrounding Kill-A-Watt — a student competition focused on reducing energy use in residence halls — I find it appropriate to show you how being conscious of your energy consumption, although knowingly beneficial for the Earth, directly profits you.
By turning off your lights, you have the potential to save 10 to 20 percent of a total household electricity bill. Cutting back your daily shower by five minutes for a year saves you almost $10 (imagine if all your roommates did this) and more than 4,562 gallons of water. Here are some other creative solutions for college students: Turn on energy-saving settings for your laptop and turn your laptop off at night, use a power strip and turn it off when not in use, replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving fluorescent lights, use the microwave instead of the stovetop whenever possible, wash clothes with cold water and use natural lighting during the daytime. These are just a few pertinent energy-saving suggestions, but most importantly, spread the word. Let’s make it trendy to care.