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Conservation Tips

"Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" is a popular tagline for the green movement, but what are practical steps that the average person can do? Kelly Cartwright, biology instructor and co-chair of the college's Environmental Action Committee, offers 25 environmental tips. Some you may have heard before, and others may be new to you, but all can be common practice, says Cartwright.


  1. Bag the brown bag—Bring your lunch in reusable containers rather than disposable brown bags.
  2. Lose the plastic bags, too: When shopping, use re-usable canvas bags rather than the plastic ones that not only are made from fossil fuels but also litter the landscape.
  3. Everybody in the 'pool: Carpool to campus: It reduces fuel consumption, exhaust emissions, wear and tear on pavement and road congestion.
  4. Distance makes the heart grow fonder: Instead of circling around the parking lot multiple times to score a parking spot near the door, park in the far lot and walk to save gas and get a little exercise in.
  5. Take it step by step: Use the stairs instead of the elevators. You'll save energy and your body will appreciate the chance for a workout and weight loss.
  6. Conservation hinges on this: Instead of using automatic doors, save energy by using the good ol' swing door.
  7. Let there be (natural) light: Where possible, open Venetian blinds or use natural lighting instead of turning on electric lights.
  8. Try for the daily double: When printing or photocopying, request double-sided printing whenever possible.
  9. Tame that faucet: Don't let the water run while washing hands.
  10. Thumbs up for powering down: Turn off computers and overhead projectors when finished.
  11. Greening your students: If you're an instructor, encourage students to submit term papers and homework via e-mail or double sided if printed.
  12. Go "au natural" on campus: Don't use disposable items (i.e. plastic or Styrofoam) for campus or club activities. Instead, buy reusable plates, cups or make sure your products are biodegradable.
  13. Use your purchasing power: Don't buy products that will not be recycled, such as multi-component juice boxes or plastics # 6 (polystyrene, such as disposable coffee cups and clam-shell take-out containers).
  14. Thumbs down on plastics: When possible, buy products in glass or metal and avoid plastics. "Aluminum is turned back into aluminum," Cartwright explained. "However, it takes oil to produce each new plastic bottle."


  1. Instructors, think ahead on handouts: Design class handouts to be used in multiple classes or over multiple semesters.
  2. There's an extra one in your cupboard: Save resources by bringing your own coffee mug or reusable water container to work.
  3. Now that's "green" scratch paper: Use the back of handouts for scratch paper.
  4. Eating smart pays off: Instead of bringing disposable plates and plastic forks with a bag lunch, bring your own napkins and silverware. You'll help keep the local landfill from filling up.
  5. Save that poster board: Have students use poster boards twice or save for the next semester.


  1. Let's hear it for the bins: Use the recycling bins on campus to recycle the following: all paper, glass, metals, plastics 1 and 2.
  2. Turn plastic into a positive: Bring plastic bags to recycling containers at grocery stores.
  3. Sure puts new meaning to "texting": Donate your used textbooks to collection groups.
  4. Got an old cell phone or eyeglasses? Donate both to groups on campus.
  5. Don't throw it all away: Recycle old TV sets, computers and other electronic goods by bringing them to collection events sponsored by the Solid Waste Association of Lake County.
  6. Recycling your tennis shoes—just do it: Donate old athletic shoes during the shoe collection so that they can be turned into playground surfaces.


Be a wise consumer: Buy products that have a high amount of post-consumer waste, including facial tissue, paper towels and napkins. Look for products like tennis shoes, clothes, and bags that may contain post-consumer cotton, or recycled tires.