10 simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Christina Vessa

English: The carbon footprint as it is underst...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The little things add up. No matter where students stand on global warming and climate change, becoming more energy-efficient can save money as well.

Since the average college student cannot afford a hybrid car or solar panels, there are simple alternative ways towards living a greener life.


1. Unplug unnecessary electronics. Take a walk around the house to see what is plugged in and not in use. Phone chargers suck energy while plugged in, even if they are not being used. The Colorado State University website recommends that you use a power cord to avoid “phantom power” from being used up. CSU provides students with an interactive room model to make a living space more energy efficient.

2. Avoid buying bottled water.  There are several eco-friendly water bottle refill stations around campus. According to the Bentley University sustainability website, enough oil is used making plastic water bottles to run a million cars for a year.

3. Buy local and seasonal. Local food consumption eliminates carbon emissions by reducing food transportation demands and putting dollars into local businesses, according to Be Local Northern Colorado.  Buying seasonal means that those products have not been shipped half way around the world before being sold. Farmers markets in Fort Collins can be found Saturday mornings until October at 802 W. Drake Road or at the Larimer County Courthouse parking lot until October 15.

4. Turn off the lights. When possible, use “task” lighting instead of lighting the entire space. The Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty (COTAP) website suggests replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents and LEDs. Take advantage of natural light and make it a priority to turn off every light that is not in use when leaving a room.

5. Thrift often. Buying and giving away old clothes saves energy and resources on the production of new goods. There are unique items sitting on the shelves of those stores waiting for a home. Stores like Eco-Thrift encourage Fort Collins residents to reuse while  eliminating waste.

6. Try out biking and public transportation. Not only is biking a good source of exercise, it can be a stress free way to commute in Fort Collins. There are a number of paved trails, such as the Spring Creek Trail which runs west and east or the Mason Trail which runs north and south. Leaving your car at home just two days a week can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by an average of two tons per year, according to the EPA. Students can ride the bus for free in Fort Collins as well. ZipCar service is also available on campus.

7. Eat up. Make it a goal to finish every last scrap of food on that plate. It will cut grocery bills and waste production. The food waste generated in the United States alone could pull almost 200 million people out of hunger, according to CSU sociology professor and author Michael Carolan.

8. Utilize the internet. Downloading movies and music, getting bills online and opting for that e-textbook minimizes the amount of energy that goes into producing, transporting and distributing a product of any sort. Every year, almost 900 million trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper mills, according to the EPA.

9. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Reduce your consumption of unnecessary products. Reuse ziplock baggies, water bottles and things like yogurt containers as tupperware. Single stream recycling allows everything from cans to fliers. Check out the CSU Recycling Guide. This website will pay $1 for each ink cartridge that is recycled.

10. Read the paper online. The Collegian is just one of the many media outlets that makes news readily accessible and convenient on the Web.


Collegian Reporter Christina Vessa can be reached online at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @chrissyvessa