Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 Easy Steps for Gen Y to Go Green

I’m all for green. I love the color (I’m a UO Duck...what can I say) and I love the environment. What I don’t love, are how most of the suggestions I hear about being environmentally conscious from the media, aren’t relevant to me and a good portion of my fellow Gen Yers. What I mean, is that a lot of the focus of the media is solely around driving an eco-friendly car. For someone who is unemployed and has student loans to pay off, dropping some serious coin for a green ride is something that isn’t feasible at this time. Moreover, the tips on “going green” that I receive in the mail from my local utility company seem to relate solely to home owners. I, like most of the younger half of Gen Y, live in an apartment. I don’t need to buy new energy efficient appliances, re-caulk my windows, or re-insulate my walls.

While I don’t have the money for a new eco-friendly Prius or for a LEED certified new house, I still want to make a difference. Below are five suggestions for how Gen Y can positively impact their environment and simultaneously, their wallets without exerting too much effort.

Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

An Energy Star qualified CFL can save you $30 over its life time! This means that this little guy will pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses about 75% less energy and lasts 10x longer than a regular bulb (just remember to turn the lights off when you’re not using them too). If that isn’t convincing, check out this stat from the Energy Star website:

“If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600M in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to emissions of more than 800K cars.”

Use appliances during off-peak hours explains: "Peak" energy hours are the time of day during which the most electricity is used – typically daytime. During peak energy hours additional power plants, "peak-hour plants", are needed. If energy usage is spread out more evenly throughout the day, peak-hour plants will not need to be used.

So simply run your energy-sucking appliances like your dishwasher and washer/dryer between the hours of 9PM and 7AM. Moreover, many utilities companies will offer reduced energy rates during these hours.

Wash clothes in cold water

Approximately 90% of the energy used to wash clothes is used to heat the water. So grab some of that new Tide Coldwater detergent and go to town.

If you don't use it, you lose it

Even if you aren’t using your electronics, if they’re plugged in, they’re still sucking power. So instead of plugging your electronics into the wall, plug them into a power strip. This way, when your not using them, you can shut them all off at once. This also goes for things like your toaster and blender. Only plug those bad boys in when you’re using them, then unplug them when you’re done.

Use public transportation

What I find interesting, is that a lot of “green tips” put the C02 emission savings in relation to the comparable amount of cars you’re taking off the road. So why not just take your car off the road in the first place...

Yes, I recognize that this is not possible for everyone. But if it is, do it. It’s hugely eco-friendly and saves major cash.When I started using my city’s public transportation, I was saving around $200/mth in gas and parking expenses. That’s 200 items on the Dollar Menu or 200 rounds of beer on Dollar Beer Night for your 200 closest friends. Either that, or it’s a good chuck towards rent.

If you want some more tips, check out these sweet sites:

--Now Let Me Clear My Throat--
Josh Groth


Jenna said...

Josh! This post rocks! I def. agree. Why do I drive a Toyota Sequoia and work for a green company. Cause I'm a poor college graduate and this was the only car available for me...

I struggle with this all the time being "in" the biz of sustainability. When organic foods cost twice as much as other foods - for example. I know its the right choice, but my wallet doesn't always let me live the green lifestyle I desire. These are some great "low hanging fruit" for anyone.

I'd like to point out that it is important to recycle your light bulbs when you do change them out. And start talking to your landlord about being green. It's a tough balance, if they pay for stuff it's in their best interest. If you pay for it, it's in your best interest.

Making a mental habit is also a great way of changing things. Like unplugging appliances and doing dishs/laundry during off peat hours.

Another great transportation idea is carpool. Although a lot of our generation already does this. Might be something for the older folks who read your blog to think about. I pointed this out to my dad when he used to live here. How many Nike employees live in the Beaverton area? In our neighborhood even? And you never car pool...? Why?

kare anderson said...

Wait until you see the Superbulb when it goes on the market early next year. My friend Brett Sharenow is the COO

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