The Lazy Environmentalist: A Dozen Easy Ways to Go Smugly Sustainable


By Alison Hewitt

Published Apr 1, 2009 8:00 AM

We all know we should give up our cars, go vegan, buy super-efficient appliances and install solar panels at home. But that's a lot of money, not to mention a lot of effort. Here are some baby steps that still help you go beyond fluorescent bulbs and shorter showers.

1. Go reusable.
Items like reusable coffee mugs and reusable shopping bags reduce the number of disposable items you throw away, display your clear moral superiority, and sometimes get you discounts at the store.

Too lazy for you?

Get more ideas from UCLA's Sustainability site: Be a Part of the Plan. Watch a video about UCLA's new Climate Action Plan, find out how you can help and hear podcasts on eco-efforts at UCLA's Sustainability Committee site.

Read the full article, How Green is Your Campus?

Video Extra: UCLA Sustainability Coordinator Nurit Katz gives the four-minute low down on what's up on campus.


Today: La Kretz Hall, UCLA's first federally certified green building, built in 2005.

Tomorrow: The campus will get a complete eco-makeover over the next few years.

2. Eat less meat.
Going full-vegetarian is daunting, but just going meatless for a few extra meals a week could have a bigger environmental impact than carpooling. Eat corn for dinner, and your carbon footprint depends on how much energy it took to grow the corn. Eat steak, and your footprint swells to include all the corn it took to raise the cow.

3. Skip the elevator, take the stairs.
It's like garaging the car and riding your bike to work on a smaller scale. Save electricity and lose a little weight by climbing the stairs.

4. No more one-use water bottles.
Why waste your money buying water-filled plastic containers? Get a sports water bottle, fill it up at the water cooler and presto, you're saving the planet.

5. Recycle at work.
Most of us are used to recycling at home, but lots of offices offer recycling, too. Just because you get a memo that's a waste of paper doesn't mean the paper has to go to waste. Ask what kinds of recycling your office has — UCLA offers everything from plain old paper recycling to bins for dead batteries.

6. Switch off your computer, already.
At work or at home, computers suck up huge amounts of power. Bonus: Restarting regularly could help your finicky machine run more smoothly. Use the boot-up time to rinse out your reusable coffee mug.

7. Unplug power vampires.
Even when your computer, TV or toaster aren't on, their plugs have their fangs in the wall, sucking up small amounts of energy and padding your power bill. Unplug when not in use, or put everything on a power strip to unplug at the end of the day.

8. Bring your lunch to work.
It's not just a money-saving tip. Skip the Styrofoam and plastic packaging from take-out meals and bring your own food in Tupperware.

9. Turn off your car.
This isn't an exhortation to carpool or take public transit. But at least stop idling. Engines are more efficient at starting than they used to be. If you're sitting still in a parking lot or driveway for more than 10 seconds, you're wasting gas compared to just turning the car off until you need it again.

10. Join a community farm.
Farming co-ops will deliver fresh produce right to your door. Since the local fruits and veggies aren't shipped in from Chile, they're easier on the environment. Flaunt your green superiority by bragging to friends about how much better farm-fresh tastes than grocery-store fare. Get your weekly harvest from the same farm that supplies UCLA's Community Supported Agriculture group by visiting the South Central Farmers online.

11. Buy green.
No need to replace anything you already have — chucking your old goods isn't doing Earth any favors — but when you do shop, get the power-saving appliances and the recycled-content paper. UCLA's new Green Corner in the student store has everything from reusable batteries to laptop sleeves made of plastic bottles.

12. Don't print this list.
You were going to, weren't you? Tree-killer.