Published: Oct. 28, 2022

Two students hanging out in their residence hall roomGreening your living space means taking attainable steps to improve the environmental impact of your residence. Here are some tips for making sustainable choices wherever you live to reduce your carbon footprint.

Sign up for an EcoKit 

EcoKits are a collection of household goods provided by the Environmental Center at no cost that can help green your space. They contain things like LED bulbs and a compost bin. Sign up to get a contactless delivery of your free EcoKit from the Environmental Center now. As part of your EcoKit, you can also sign up for a virtual EcoVisit. This gives you the opportunity to talk to a student from the Environmental Center to discuss sustainable actions you can take in your home. EcoKits come in both on-campus and off-campus options.

Stay warm

As the temperatures cool down, we may want to turn our thermostats up. If you pay your own energy bills, finding ways to limit energy usage can prevent an expensive surprise in your utility bill this winter.

Many thermostats can be programmed to different temperatures throughout the day and night. Make sure your thermostat is turned down when no one is home. When you are home, breaking out the sweatshirts and sweaters and turning down your thermostat by even one degree can make a difference and help you save money.

To help keep your living space warm and energy use low, make sure furniture, rugs and clothing are not blocking air ducts and heat vents. Consider taking some maintenance steps, such as changing furnace filters and cleaning off radiators. You may also want to seal the windows in your living space to increase energy efficiency for your heating system.

If you live on campus, ask your RA or check the heating and cooling webpage to learn about the heating system in your residence hall (each hall is different). Depending on your hall, you may need to keep your windows closed during the winter months to avoid overloading the heating system. If you notice any heating issues in your room, be sure to submit a Fix-It request.

To learn more tips for staying warm this winter, check out the DIY Sweater Upcycling event on Nov. 14. This student-led workshop by the Environmental Center will share how to upcycle clothing and mitigate climate change through behavior change. You can also take this survey to share input on thermostat preferences and adapting behavior related to mitigating climate change.

Save energy

Saving energy is cost-effective and it shrinks your carbon footprint. Make sure you are using LED light bulbs everywhere in your household. You can find two of these light bulbs, which use 25% less energy than regular bulbs, in your EcoKit. 

Turn off lights and other electronics when they’re not in use. Some devices still use electricity when they are turned off but still plugged in. This can be avoided by using power strips with an on and off switch. Here are some common devices that draw power even when turned off: 

  • TVs 
  • Cable boxes 
  • Video game systems
  • Audio systems
  • Phone/device chargers 
  • Anything with LED display lights 

Check your freezer and refrigerator settings too, as both can often be turned down. If your food freezes at the back of your refrigerator, it’s too cold and should be turned down. 

Make a zero waste station

You can set up a zero waste station in just a few steps. Zero waste is a goal to limit the amount of stuff put in landfills. This means reusing, reducing and recycling. First, set up a recycling and composting bin where you throw out your trash. If you live in the residence halls, there are recycling and compost areas in common spaces. About 20% of waste in Boulder County could have been composted. There are composting bins where you can drop off your collected compostable items. Learn more about how and where to compost on campus. 

Make sure you are familiar with what you can recycle and make the most of your recycling bin. Designate containers for hard to recycle materials like batteries. When you have enough, you can take batteries to the Environmental Center on campus and drop off things like plastic bags at your local grocery store. Another option is to take speciality items to CHaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials)

Learn more about zero waste and finding reusable options from the Environmental Center.

Save water

Saving water can be as easy as turning off the sink when brushing your teeth and forming other water conservation habits around your space. Only run full loads of dishes and laundry when using appliances. Wash all clothes using cold water. Installing a low-flow shower head is an adjustment you can make even to a rental property. Add an aerator to your sink to reduce the amount of water it uses. If your toilet has a leak or continues to run, get it fixed as soon as possible. You can also put a water bottle in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water your toilet uses per flush.

Communicate with housemates

Talk about any adjustments with housemates or others that might share the space. Try to get everyone on the same page about things like dishwashing, water conservation and unplugging devices when they aren’t in use. This helps keep things consistent and increases awareness of sustainable practices.

Reach out to the Environmental Center with any questions you may have or to get your EcoKit.