Ball State University has made a commitment to the pursuit of environmental sustainability to ensure that humanity can meet its survival needs in the future. This commitment is found in B.S.U.'s formal documents, its faculty development programs, its courses, research, publications, purchasing, and facilities and grounds operations. This commitment has also been adopted by students who have followed many of the suggestions below and those who founded the organization, Students for a Sustainable Campus. There are many areas of life at Ball State where choices have consequences that affect the sustainability of human life, some that are obvious and some that are subtle. Please consider the following opportunities as you engage the academic year.
Program of Study -- Ball States has a nationally-recognized, award-winning Clustered Minors in Environmentally Sustainable Practices. Students can also take individual courses from within those minors or other programs related to sustainability. Students often also have the option of doing assignments in non-environmental courses on issues related to environmental sustainability. B.S.U.'s Students for a Sustainable Campus is open to all students regardless of major
Transportation - You can prevent the release of 19 pounds of CO2 for every gallon of gasoline you save by walking, biking, or riding M.I.T.S. or the shuttle whenever possible. Avoiding unnecessary trips or not letting your car idle for more than one minute are other ways of reducing CO2 emissions. Hybrid electric cars are two-to-three times as efficient as conventional vehicles.
Hygiene - Water use requires energy for pumping and storage, purification, heating, and processing waste. In Indiana, that means not only CO2, but also mercury emissions are released from our predominantly coal-fired power plants. Water use can be minimized by limiting the flow rate, the time water is running, and the frequency of use. Minimizing the use of hot or warm water also saves in associated energy use. For example, only washing full loads of clothes and washing them with cold water saves both water and the energy needed to heat the water.
Classwork/Saving Paper -- Saving paper means saving trees and energy and reducing pollution and solid waste. It's easy to achieve savings of about 50% in paper use by requesting that your professors accept papers printed on both sides or by loading your printer with paper that has already been used on one side. (You can often scrounge used paper from recycling bins in computer labs.) Buying paper with post-consumer recycled content also results in savings. Printing power point presentations with multiple slides per page print on both sides can result in up to twelve-fold savings.
Lighting - Using compact fluorescent bulbs in all light fixtures saves 67% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs.
Food storage and preparation - Not all refrigerators are equally efficient. Check the Energy Star Website and do a product search to find the brands and models that carry the Energy Star rating. These are much more efficient than other brands. Also use the yellow-and-black EnergyGuide labels displayed on them at the store to choose the most efficient one. Microwave and toaster ovens use less electricity than full-size ovens. Buying foods in bulk can save on packaging.
Dining - Buying organic foods protects the soil and the environment and reduces your exposure to chemicals. Eating locally-grown food reduces the embodied energy in the foods for transportation and the food will be fresher. Eating more vegetables and less meat allows the earth to more efficiently provide nutrients to humans. Cattle require much more input to produce a pound of meat than do hogs and poultry. Wild Alaskan salmon fisheries are healthy, others are not. Salmon farming requires killing other fish for food and pollutes the waters. Eating Chilean sea bass, grouper, snapper, swordfish, scallops, shrimp, or orange roughy especially threatens sustainability of ocean fisheries.
http://www.oceansalive.org/eat.cfm?subnav=bestandworst; http://www.oceansalive.org/eat.cfm?subnav=healthalerts ; http://www.chefscollaborative.org/index.php?name=Seafood.
Entertainment - Most television sets, VCRs, DVD players, and stereos are really still powered up when they're switched off. They need the power to detect the remote controls. Turning them off at the source cuts all power. Buying Energy Star rated systems reduces this "phantom" energy consumption. Do a product search at http://www.energystar.gov.
Trash and recycling - Ball State has a recycling program. You can find designated recycling containers in the residence halls and across campus. If recycling loads are contaminated with non-recyclable materials, Ball State's waste hauler takes the whole load to the landfill. Recyclables to remember are: empty containers of metal, plastic (#'s 1 & 2), or unbroken glass (without caps); paper; newspapers; magazines; and cardboard.
John Vann, BSU Green Initiatives Coordinator, Council on the Environment