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Reduce your impact

Staff Editorial | Friday, October 12, 2007

Americans often see environmentalism as a distant topic. But on the heels of Notre Dame’s Energy Week, there are many things college students can do to reduce their daily, negative impact on the environment. The U.S., home to about five percent of the world’s population, is responsible for about a quarter of the world’s total energy consumption. Think of it this way: Americans use one million gallons of gas every two minutes.

By using energy more efficiently, the U.S. could preserve natural resources and save more than $2.3 billion by the year 2030.

And while much of the environmental damage has already been done, there are ways to stop more from happening, and some scientists are saying there are ways to reverse it. By 2100, there is hope that the ozone layer will be repaired – depending on how serious global citizens are about being more energy efficient.

Global citizenry means leaders, voters and students alike. There are many things we can do on campus to contribute to reverse the negligence of the past hundreds of years. By adhering to a few simple, reasonable requests, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s can “go green” and positively contribute to the global call to conservationism.

First, turn off your lights. It sounds petty, but if you are going to be out of the room, there’s no reason not to.

Second, use compact fluorescent light bulbs. These bulbs last 10 times longer and consume 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and can save 260 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

Third, turn off your computer overnight. No one important is going to instant message you at 4 a.m. At other times, put it in power-save or sleep mode instead of using a screen saver.

Fourth, avoid leaving the water running (while brushing teeth, dealing with leaky faucets, and taking showers). One drippy faucet that leaks enough to fill a soda bottle every 30 minutes can waste over 2,192 gallons of water each year.

Fifth, wash your clothes on the cold-water setting. Switching from warm to cold can save more than 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Air-dry your clothes when you can.

Sixth, walk, bike or use Transpo. Gasoline emission is one of the biggest contributors to air pollution.

Seventh, recycle. This one is simple.

The Environmental Protection Agency knows it. The United Nations knows it. Even Bob Dole knows it. Energy conservation is real and necessary. The country is talking. Jump on board.