Resource Use Reduction Project Results -- 2012; NOTE: Please see Course Documents on Blackboard for the 2014 version; apologies, I have changed web editors and can't seem to get the new data for 2014 into this!!

Action

No. who did this at least once

% of participants who did this at least once

Total no of times 2012

Total no. of times 2010

Total no. of times

2009

Turn out lights

90

96

3521

3673

3250

Turn off computer/ CD player

82

87

883

878

720

Turn down thermostat

67

71

624

566

594

Use alternative transportation

56

60

369

435

438

Re-use bag

77

82

386

382

348

Recycle can or bottle

84

89

901

1016

1010

Use back side of paper

82

87

1136

767

473

Use cloth bag for groceries

33

35

89

181

169

Use a “come back cup”

21

22

70

156

281

Buy organic produce/meat

38

40

122

242

165

Flush when necessary

43

46

462

564

635

Hang clothes/towels  to dry

34

36

96

89

72

Run washers when full

69

73

200

302

257

Use a hand rather than power tool

20

21

70

70

158

Take stairs not elevator

81

86

988

790

751

Shop at thrift store

10

11

16

35

44

Computer notes not paper

33

35

133

92

182

Compost

22

23

170

255

156

Compact fluorescent

55

56

760

856

NA

94 people participated in 2012, 110 people participated in 2010 and 91 people participated in 2009, so it is possible to compare results between years, at least approximately.   

Quantifying a few of these actions:

 (1) Turn out a light that would otherwise have been left on. If we assume 75 watt bulbs, and that each was turned off for an hour during which it would otherwise have been left on, we come up with 264,075 watts or 264 kwh. My family tends to use ~ 400 kwh per month, so the savings were equal to ~ 66 % of my family's energy use for that month, or enough to power the total electricity needs of my house for almost 20 days (or, over a year, for 240 days – about 8 months!!)

(2) Use alternative transportation when driving alone was an option: 369 instances. If we assume that the average trip would have been 5 miles and the vehicle got 25 miles per gallon, we've saved about 74 gallons of gas in this week. Over a year, this would amount to 3,848 gallons. Saving these miles also reduced CO2 emissions.  If one figures 30 # of CO2 per gallon of gasoline burned (the usual conversion) this yearly savings is 115,440 pounds of CO2 or nearly 58 tons.

(3) Use the backside of a piece of paper: 1136 instances. Assuming that the tallies represent single sheets of paper (a conservative estimate), this would be about 2.3 reams of paper per week (a ream is 500 sheets). This would, over a year, be ~ 120 reams, or a stack 22.5 feet high (a ream is 2.25 inches tall).

(4) Flush toilet only when it is necessary: 462 instances. If we assume one wait per flush (rather than letting the accumulation get larger) and assume that all were 1.6 gallon toilets (unlikely - probably some were higher volume toilets), then we come up with ~ 739 gallons (almost 15 50-gallon drums) per week or ~ 38,438 gallons per year!

Additional savings mentioned by some : did dishes by hand with the water off instead of using the dishwasher; took shorter showers or turned off water while soaping up or turned down the water heater thermostat or took “tandem showers”; wore sweaters instead of turning up heat;  heated individual rooms rather than whole house/apartment; reduced soap use or used environmentally friendly cleaning products or toiletries; used cloth napkins and dish towels; turned off water while brushing teeth or doing dishes or use low-flow shower head; unplugged unused appliances; ate vegetarian or vegan; bought bulk products and purchased them in re-used containers; picked up litter; reused packaging; shopped at local businesses; weatherized or insulated your house; donated unwanted goods instead of throwing in the trash; used rechargeable batteries; relied on sunlight instead of electric lights, used energy star appliances; cancelled catalogs, kept water in refrigerator instead of running it until cool; ran outside instead of using treadmill/elliptical machines; used two-sided printing; fed scraps to chickens; submitted assignments electronically instead of on paper; let hair air dry; recycled car oil; bought in bulk; used cold water for laundry; ate food you grew; used one glass all day; refill water bottle rather than purchasing; use homegrown products, pack snacks in reusable containers …

See many related links and tidbits of information below, as well!

Miscellaneous related tidbits and web links:

See below for more information on resource use reduction -- there are some useful tips and web sites for those who want more information. In addition, there are some links to sites that deal with food and sustainability in the section of web notes that treats alternative agriculture.

About re-using bags for shopping; Using a long-term bag (e.g., cloth) is really the best answer to the question you often get at the checkout stand, "Paper or plastic?" The answer to that question should, from an environmental perspective, be "Neither." Plastic (polyethylene bags) takes about 40% less energy to produce than is required to make paper bags (considering the entire stream from forest to paper bag in the store) and plastic also takes up less room in landfills than does paper. However, paper will decompose in landfills, unlike plastic, and in many communities, paper bags can be recycled through curbside collection.

Peripherally related to the item about running washers only when full: perhaps surprisingly, some studies suggest that dishwashers can use ~ 50% as much energy and 17% as much water as does typical handwashing of dishes! This is true only when the machines are run full, using a relatively low water temperature, and when the energy saving "no heat, air dry" option is selected.

Re. hanging clothes to dry rather than using a clothes dryer, dryers DO use a LOT of energy -- 6 - 10% of US residential energy use, on average (Sierra Sept/Oct '07).

SITES WITH LOCALLY USEFUL INFORMATION:

Corvallis transit (bus system) - note that you can ride the bus free in Corvallis! This site gives schedule and route information -
http://www.ci.corvallis.or.us/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=467&Itemid=410

A Pacific Northwest site that OSU partners with to help people match up with carpools - whether for one trip or routine commutes: http://www.carpoolmatchnw.org/

Corvallis disposal (landfill, recycling, swap store, composting and more): http://corvallis.disposal.com/

(A related note: as of 2004, only 45% of aluminum cans used in the US were recycled, despite the fact that recycling one can saves enough electricity to run a laptop computer for ~ 10 hours! These cans are 100% recyclable, recycling uses 90 % less energy than is used to make the can starting from ore, and the average recycled can's aluminum is back on the shelf within 60 days in the US. In lesser developed countries, rates of aluminum recycling are generally much higher than in the US - there poverty and high scrap metal values combine to make such cans valued as the precious resource they really are! This accords with the saying, "Garbage is only called garbage until enough people want it.") The US national average recycling rate (i.e., the total recovery of materials) across all types of materials is about 32%, which is lower than the rate found for most other industrialized nations in Europe, and in Japan (Frontiers in Eco and Env March '07)

Energize Corvallis -- a local project intended to help citizens of Corvallis decrease energy use in their homes and businesses -- has student internship opportunities as well!  http://energizecorvallis.org/

Pacific Power - information on Blue Sky and other energy conservation programs [and information on energy efficient appliances]: http://www.pacificpower.net

(A related note: while here in the PNW we imagine that we are wealthy in alternative fuels, such as hydroelectric power - and we are, compared to many regions of the country - we still get 40% of our electricity from fossil fuels - and in Corvallis, ~ 69% of our electricity is based on burning coal, which is a relatively "dirty" fossil fuel….)

SITES WITH INFORMATION ABOUT OSU AND OTHER UNIVERSITY'S SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS:

The College Sustainabiity Report Card, performed by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, assesses the sustainability of the 200 public and private universities with the largest endowments in the US and Canada. OSU was ranked in the top 25 for 2008. You can see the report at http://www.endowmentinstitute.org/sustainability/

See http://oregonstate.edu/sustainability/ for information on specific initiatives underway or planned for the future at OSU.


If you live in a dorm or an apartment, or any place where you can't compost kitchen scraps but you would like to do so, contact the OSU Organic Grower's Club, -- they want your stuff!:  organic_growers@oregonstate.eduIn addition, Republic Waste, Corvallis' waste disposal system, now allows you to put compostable foods in your yard waste bin, if you have one of those -- and there are compost receptacles outside many OSU buildings in which you can put your compostables -- easy!

SITES WITH INFORMATION ABOUT PARTICULAR TYPES OF ENERGY USE REDUCTION:

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (These yield as much light as regular incandescents, but for only 20 - 25% as much energy - and they last up to 10X longer than incandescents; these features combined mean a fast pay-back period for the initially more expensive purchase. You can determine whether light out put will be the same as that delivered by your former incandescent bulbs by comparing lumens - not watts [ an 18 watt compact replaces a 75 watt incandescent, for example].) See the following sites for more information:

General info: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=cfls.basic_cfl_search
(This site also has information on other kinds of appliances.)

To choose bulbs: http://www.environmentaldefense.org/page.cfm?tagID=632&campaign=mts

To choose computers based on energy efficiency:

http://www.epeat.net/

Information on various energy alternatives and energy use reduction actions and programs:

http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/index.htm

Information on home insulation -- determine the optimum insulation value for homes in your geographic area by visiting the US Dept. of Energy's map and chart at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/insulation.html

 This site demonstrates 50 small things one can do to save resources of various types:  http://www.50waystohelp.com

In this vein, a few miscellaneous tidbits:

SITE WITH INFORMATION ABOUT DRIVING BEHAVIOUR AND ITS EFFECT ON MILEAGE (AND EMISSIONS)

A few good tidbits:
- Keep your automobile tires fully inflated - if they are underinflated by only 4 pounds, this diminishes your mileage by ~ 0.5 mpg! (You can note this effect when you're riding a bike with low tires too….).
-If your car will be idling for more than 10 seconds, it pays to turn it off - takes less gas to turn off and on than would be consumed after that 10 seconds.
- Every mile per hour that you drive over 55 mph you lose ~ 2% in mileage!
- Every extra 100 pounds you carry in your vehicle costs ~ 0.5 mpg -- so unload all that dirty laundry that's in your trunk!
-Roof racks increase aerodynamic drag, so remove them when not in use
-If each of us walked, biked, or took the bus just one work day per week instead of driving all days, we'd decrease fuel use (and emissions) by 20%

See the Car Talk guys site for more: http://www.cartalk.com/content/features/fueleconomy/

SITES THAT ALLOW YOU TO CALCULATE YOUR "FOOTPRINT" IN TERMS OF ENERGY AND RESOURCE USE - OR THAT OFFER APPROXIMATE VALUES FOR CO2 EMISSIONS DECREASES ASSOCIATED WITH VARIOUS ACTIVITIES:

http://www.myfootprint.org/

http://eartheasy.com/article_canada_challenge.htm

http://www.undoit.org/undoit_20steps.cfm (I don't like their use of the term "undo it" re greenhouse gases; "do less of it" would be more appropriate, in my view…)

http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/environment -- a list of 50 simple things we can all do to avert the dangers of climate change

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Page maintained by Patricia Muir at Oregon State University. Last updated Jan. 29, 2014.