Biking, taking public transport, carpool initiatives and Zip Car rental car programs make it easy to save on gas and keep transportation emissions low.
“If you opt for a carpool decal, it’s cheaper than getting a full parking decal,” explained Ashley Pennington, UF’s Sustainable Outreach Coordinator. Many other universities and workplaces offer similar discounts.
Pennington said a more unique alternative is choosing to rent Zip Cars, a car-sharing program aimed to reduce car use and the emissions that come with it. Anyone over the age of 18 enrolled in the program can rent cars on a temporary basis for errands and trips that warrant a car ride.
Look for carpool or rideshare programs local to you.
Boot chemicals out of your home
Reducing the amount of chemicals in personal and household cleaning agents can eliminate toxins and irritants in the home that may endanger health and also negatively impact the environment, said EPA staff.
EPA staff also said that using natural cleaning products that contain minimal or no hazardous ingredients is a good and easy way to help the environment. For this issue, they recommend two ways to go green: buy safer products or make your own.
“Use alternative methods or products, without hazardous ingredients, for common household needs, such as making a household cleaning solution from 1 cup of warm water, 3 drops of vegetable-based liquid soap, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar,” EPA staff added.
Commercial products are also available. The EPA’s Design for the Environment program allows the DfE logo to be placed on those household cleaning products that pose little concern for human health and environmental effects.
Change to energy efficient household items
Saving on water and electricity is an easy way that will up the thickness of your wallet as well as your good-doings to the environment.
“Look for the WaterSense label when purchasing a new toilet, faucet, showerhead, or irrigation controller,” EPA staff said.
Other products such as LED light bulbs and push mowers can help conserve energy, they added.
“Try to think about how you can conserve energy, whether it’s turning your air off during the day or turning the thermostat up – suggested 78 during the summer and 68 during the winter, unplugging appliances when you are not using them, switching out your light bulbs and opting for more energy efficient products,” Pennington suggests.
Find what works best for you, and incorporate it into your lifestyle
Pennington said with many facets of sustainability, topics are going to resonate differently with different people.
“ It might be food that really strikes you, or transportation because you have always been a biker. Find whatever it is that is your interest and gets you into the conservation,” she suggests.
Read up on the issues at a policy level, and consider the impacts of certain behavior and let that form how you think about daily behaviors, Pennington also suggests.
“I would say the most important thing people can do to be sustainable is to see their lives from a whole-system perspective,” Leitner said.
He suggests people should be educated and, as Pennington suggested, know the impacts of your lifestyle choices and be conscious of them.
“It’s a hierarchy. When you can reduce your consumption altogether, that’s going to have the highest impact,” Pennington said.