Kill-A-Watt: A Campaign to Increase Energy Efficiency on the Columbia University Campus

Friday, May 05, 2006

Energy Beyond Electricity

People tend to think of energy only in terms of electricity;however, there are various types of energy. When people raise cattle, they use biomass, and invest energy into the plants. Fossil fuels that are used as an industrial resourse, contain and omit energy. Fossil fuels are used to produce any type of product, package and transport. Through being educated consumers, we can in turn reduce our effect on the environment.

Simple ways to make a difference (written as they would appear in the pamphlet):
-Try to minimize wasteful consumption. For example, if you have a choice, use more local products, since they require fewer resources to be transported to you. The smaller the distance the product had to travel, the less pollution was generated.
-Products that are advertised to the public usually have an elaborate package. The packaging itself uses a lot of resources, and at times it costs more than the product itself. It will be cheaper for you and better for the environment if you buy more products with less packaging.
-Trust your senses. Do not believe everything that advertisements say. An average person is bombarded with about 3,000 of them a day, and they can manipulate your buying decisions.
-Buy local produce from farmers’ markets. The energy for transportation and packaging is saved.
-Stay away from disposables. Over 200 billion of non-biodegradable utensils like bottles, cans, cups, and plates are thrown out every year. Opt out for glass and metal, since both are easily recyclable. Styrofoam and plastic products use should be diminished or eliminated altogether.
When grocery shopping, do not use plastic bags for each load. Try to reuse the old ones, or get a biodegradable and recyclable paper one, or bring in your own bag.
-Be aware of the food you consume. It takes three times as many resources to produce one gram of meat protein than wheat protein. Also, pork and beef are the most resource-intensive types of meat, so try to curb the intake.
-Consume certified organic foods. These types of food only use natural pesticides control (compare to three billion pounds of pesticides that are currently being used all over the world).
Reuse, reuse, and, once again, reuse. Use your imagination and creativity to at least partially reuse the item you would otherwise dispose of.
-Recycle. It will help to diminish the amount of virgin materials, for example, wood, used in the production process.
-The lower the environmental effect of the product or service you are using, the better. If you have a choice between a hybrid car and a sport utility vehicle, opt out for the hybrid car.
-Check for energy efficiency. Purchase Energy Star™ products.
-Use clothing made of organic cotton.
-Use phosphate-free detergents and soaps. You will notice the difference in the products you treat with them (they will last longer), and will diminish the amount of pollutants annually dumped into the water streams.
-Use durable products. You will throw away less, and, essentially, spent less.
-Use fewer trees. Use tree-free paper or paper from the recycled materials. Try not to use wooden products that are going to be disposed immediately after (for example, wooden chopsticks).
-Do not use products made of endangered species. When purchasing a plant or an animal, make sure you know where it came from.
-If you have an opportunity to get involved with local group promoting resource conservation, do so. For Barnard community, such a group would be BarnardEarth.

Some of the information in this blog entry was based on the information by:
Union of Concerned Scientists
P.O. Box 9105 Two Brattle Square
Cambridge, MA 02238
Tel: 617 547 5552

This page has been created and published by a Columbia University student, faculty or staff member as part of course or other requirements. The ideas and information expressed in this publication have not been approved or authorized by Columbia University, and the University shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever resulting from any action arising in connection with its publication. Columbia University is not responsible for the contents of any off-site information referenced herein.