As a Junior at James Madison University studying Architectural Design, I’ve heard my share (and more!) about sustainable design and how our environment is worsening each year. But as a college-level architect, I know my sustainable designs and ideas won’t be front-page stories anytime soon because I am still learning and working for my degree. For now, I know that I want to make a difference in the world, even if I’m not an architect designing a sustainable future (yet).
I am not the only one aware of climate change, however. Almost everyone is aware that our environment is struggling, but are unsure of how to make a difference. Will our little ripple in the big pond make a wave?
Here are some things we can do to start a wave in 2019.
Turn off and unplug devices when not in use. Today’s technology often continues to use power even when turned off to turn on faster, keep clocks running, or save memory. This is called a “vampire load,” and though it sounds like an insignificant amount of energy, your televisions, phone chargers, bedside alarm clocks, and even coffee makers will “suck up” electricity and raise your energy usage. Use a power strip to connect your smaller electronic devices (TVs, chargers, gaming devices, etc.) and simply flip a switch to cut power, or unplug your device after each use.
Improve your lighting and replace your bulb type. Replacing your lightbulbs with CFL or LEDs can cut your energy usage by at least 5%. This may not seem like a lot, but for a large family or a large home, 5% OR MORE will definitely add up over time. Another way to reduce energy usage of lighting is to turn off lights when not in the room, or use a lamp rather than an overhead light. We’ve heard “Turn off the lights!” since we were children, but when we’re paying the bills, it sounds a lot more tempting!
Your attic’s insulation determines your home’s overall comfort. Insulation comes in a lot of different types, and it can be hard to tell if your home has the right kind of insulation, plus if it even has enough. Read our post here to find out how to prevent air leaks and keep your home cozy without using energy.
Get an energy audit to find out where your home is hurting. We perform energy audits on your home to identify things that you can change to reduce energy usage, increase safety, and enhance comfort to you and your family. Plus, if you live in Harrisonburg, the audit is completely free and provided by Charles Hendricks. Read this post to see what exactly we look for and what you can do.
Reduce plastic consumption. Use reusable bags, eat out less, bring your travel mugs to the coffee shop, buy products with recyclable or less packaging, shop local… These are only a few choices you can make to leave less of a plastic trail behind you as you live.
Reconsider your car. This can mean many things… The least expensive option is to walk or carpool rather than take your car. But what if you were to change your car completely? How many MPG does your car get? Could it be better? Technology is advancing, and hybrid/electric cars are becoming much more affordable. The next time you’re in need of another car, consider going green.
Shop local. Support your community and your health by buying fresh produce from the Farmers’ Market. Local produce also has a smaller ecological footprint, meaning it required far less resources to grow and transport.
UPCYCLE! Recycling consists of reprocessing used materials into a new product. Upcycling, depending on the definition, is the “creative reuse” of an unwanted or waste product into something that is of better quality and better for the environment. The difference between the two is that upcycling does not require the destruction of the unwanted product to make a new item. Turn your old bike into a table, knit plastic bags into a sturdier reusable bag, turn forks into clothing hooks, the possibilities are endless! Upcycling is a creative outlet to bettering the environment and you’ll save money on giving Christmas gifts!
2018 has been a year of politics and debate regarding the state of our environment. Many of us may think that sustainability is “the government’s problem” but IT IS NOT. We can take immediate action EVERY DAY to reduce plastic usage and save energy. We can work with our community and make our home cleaner. We can make the future a little bit brighter for future generations, but it requires teamwork and dedication. TALK TO PEOPLE about what changes you’ve made to your daily life, and INSPIRE them to do the same! Roadside clean-ups and community gardens always help, but what we need to do is CUT plastic, CONSERVE energy, and SHOP local. 2019 is upon us, and I can’t wait to see what we’ve achieved by 2020 with these changes.