Photo of hand putting bottle in recycling bin

Going green: 5 practical ways to become more eco-friendly

Everything we do has an impact on our planet—from sleeping with the TV on all night to letting the shower run while getting ready. But we may not realize just how much our daily habits make an impact. As global warming and climate change become more irreversible, it’s essential to take more steps to help protect our environment.

Educational institutions nationwide are recognizing Campus Sustainability Month this month, an annual celebration hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education that highlights colleges’ and universities’ sustainability achievements while raising awareness. To better understand how we can make Case Western Reserve University a greener place to work and study, The Daily sat down with Stephanie Corbett, director of the Office of Energy and Sustainability, to hear her thoughts.

Read on to learn five eco-friendly practices Corbett recommends integrating into your everyday life on campus (and beyond). 

1. Know the difference between what can be recycled and what is recyclable. 

Often, we may be guilty of “wish-cycling,” putting things we wish could be recycled in the bin, even though they can’t. To avoid recycling items incorrectly, educate yourself on what items are accepted and how to sort them properly. Where you recycle also depends on your location—whether you’re on campus, in a residence hall, an office building or a classroom. 

2. Get creative with how you move around campus.

From walking to using public transportation or carpooling, there are several eco-friendly ways to get to (and around) CWRU and the local community. If you live within a 5-mile radius, biking is another energy-efficient transportation option, as campus is home to more than 150 bike racks. Or, you can catch a ride with one of several shuttles or Regional Transit Authority buses to stop by campus. 

3. Purchase food from local markets. 

In addition to receiving the freshest food available, buying from local farmers supports biodiversity—the variety of life within a particular habitat or ecosystem—which leads to healthier lands and soils. At Case Western Reserve, food compost from Bon Appetit Management Company is sent off campus to Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms and later grown into fresh produce and food that you can buy at the university’s dining halls. 

4. Reduce your carbon footprint.

Energy use is one of the most common contributors to a high carbon footprint—the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions (such as carbon dioxide) caused by our actions—which directly impacts the climate; 80% of CWRU’s carbon footprint comes from energy use in buildings around campus. If you see the light on in a room with no one in there, or if you’re no longer using a computer, printer or another piece of equipment, be sure to turn it off to save power. 

5. Limit unnecessary utility consumption. 

Because fresh, clean water is a limited resource, it is important to reduce unnecessary water usage and practice water conservation. Some ways you can do this include taking shorter showers, not leaving the water running when it’s not being used, and drinking tap water instead of bottled water. You can also limit unnecessary utility consumption by traveling less and buying more energy-efficient appliances when possible. 

To discover other ways to be sustainable, visit the Office of Energy and Sustainability’s website.