As climate change and environmental degradation make headlines, you may ask yourself "...but what can I do"? The resources list below seeks to provide tips and resources on individual actions that help reduce our carbon footprint and make a difference for the environment.
Sustainable Living: Get Started
Vote for Climate
- Since structural change is required to attain a just green economy and society, it is imperative that the leaders we elect are dedicated to actualizing this transition. This extends from local, county and state elections all the way to national elections. Your vote matters.
- If you haven’t already, visit https://vote.gov/ to register to vote
- Visit https://www.usa.gov/voting to find more resources relating to voting and elections such as defining common terms, learning how to vote and who to vote for, the history of elections etc.
- Use a tool like My Reps to find your representatives and find out what your representatives are, or aren’t, doing about climate change
- Consider volunteering with organizations advocating for a just transition such as 350, the Sunrise Movement, Zero Hour, or Extinction Rebellion and stay politically active through participating in marches, signing petitions, and/or writing to your representatives.
- The Carbon Footprint of Your Diet: These two infographics lend themselves to an easy analysis of how our dietary choices impact the environment.
- Consider a plant-based diet and eat meatless as often as possible. If everyone in the US replaced one meat meal with a plant-based meal once a week, the greenhouse gas emissions reductions would equate to taking 500,000 cars off the road! Visualize how the emissions of common foods compare by checking out this chart.
- Learn more about the environmental impacts of a carnivorous diet through this article and this video. Watch this video about the positive effects of reducing meat consumption and learn about how going vegetarian can help the environment here.
- Grow vegetables for yourself at one of the Community Gardens on campus, or harvest from one of the many campus edible gardens! Download the Campus Edibles Map.
- Caffeinate sustainably and buy SU's MotMot coffee online or around campus. This Direct Trade product was made possible through the efforts of Seattle University and the University of Managua, Nicaragua, working towards improving the livelihood of Nicaraguan coffee farmers.
- Check the labels on food; they matter! Try the guides by Green America or Food Print.
- Reduce food waste. Did you know that a third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork? Producing uneaten food squanders a whole host of resources—seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capital—and generates greenhouse gases at every stage—including methane when organic matter lands in the waste. The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions.
- Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group like the Clean Greens' and get fresh organic vegetables delivered directly to your door that support local farms, low income families and food justice efforts as well as creating local green jobs. For more CSA options click here.
- Farmers markets are not only a great way to support your local economy and reduce your ‘food miles,’ but are also a great outing to go on with your friends. The Capitol Hill Farmers Market happens right by SU on Broadway every Sunday 11am-3pm year round.
- Learn more about the benefits of eating organic here.
- Eat with the seasons. Learn why eating seasonally is important. And find out what is currently ripe and delicious by visiting Seasonal Cornucopia.
- Eat out responsibly and see if a restaurant serving up sustainable fare can satisfy your dinner craving. Try sustainable-minded restaurants such as Homegrown, Plum Bistro - a black-owned vegan establishment, or the first organically certified restaurant in WA state, Broadfork Cafe. Have a meal at FareStart, teaching people in poverty the life skills they need to succcess in the food service industry. Or check out this list of local/organic/sustainably minded food spots in Seattle.
- Learn about the price of materialism in this quick video, and reconsider your wants and needs. Or visit the Story of Stuff Project to learn about the ways we make, use and get rid of our stuff.
- Buy in bulk! It not only reduces your packaging waste, but also the energy used to produce and transport your purchases. A three-in-one!
- Zero-waste focussed stores like Scoop Marketplace make conscious shopping much easier. Check out more zero-waste focussed stores in the Seattle area and beyond here.
- When you need to purchase items, shop at thrift stores like Lifelong Thrift, Crossroads, or Goodwill before going to other stores. Learn more about the benefits of purchasing second hand here.
- Visit a local reuse center such as Second Use, Ballard Reuse or check out Craigslist for anything from furniture to plumbing to appliances.
- Purchase Fair Trade Certified products. Seattle University has been a Fair Trade Designated University since 2015. You can find several Fair Trade certified products at the campus cafes.
REDUCE! REUSE! . . . and then Recycle
- Find out "What Goes Where" and choose the right bin next time you need to throw stuff away.
- At SU, 50% of our waste is actually compostable, 13% is recyclable (2018 data). We can do better! Support SU's goal to divert 90% of its waste from the landfill by 2025. Check out these Tips for a Zero Waste Day at SU. And watch this video to learn cheap and easy ways to reduce your waste and more towards a zero waste lifestyle.
- How much plastic do you consume? Plastic is omnipresent in our lives- in the clothes we wear, the electronics we use, and our built environment. Use this tool by the Earth Day Network to calculate your personal plastic consumption, create your personal plastic plan, and track your progress. Here are 11 easy ways to reduce your plastic waste.
- Seattle University is a plastic water bottle-FREE campus. Use your reusable water bottle at all times, both on and off campus.
- Processing recyclables and compost takes large amounts of energy. A few easy ways to reduce even recyclable and compostable waste is to use reusable mugs (you get a discount at C-street and almost all coffee shops in Seattle!) and C-Street’s reusable plates and utensils instead of clamshells and compostables.
- Donate rather than throw away: Have any electronics, furniture, or other items in your office or dorms you want to get rid off? Consider donating to local non-profits.
- Repair rather than replace: Instead of throwing out items after they break, have them repaired. Check out DIY tutorials on YouTube or get them professionally repaired.
- Do you know how much water you use on a daily basis? How much water goes into making the things you use each day such as clothing, food, and electronics? Calculate your footprint here.
- The average American uses 100 gallons of water per day, read here about 20 ways you can reduce your water consumption.
- Check out Seattle's RainWise program and learn what changes you can make at home to harvest rain water, manage stormwater, and reduce, reuse, and clean runoff from your property.
- Gain a better understanding of water consumption and get in touch with your water supply by learning about where and how Seattle gets its water: the Cedar River Watershed
- Take the stairs and make your heart race for sustainability!
- Turn off and unplug your lights and electronics. Appliances that are turned off but plugged in still suck energy! Read this article on "energy vampires". Plug electronics into a smart power strip so you can flip 1 switch to turn everything off.
- Replace the lamps at your desk, in your office, or at home with LED light and save up to 60% of energy. Due to their efficiency and longevity, LED’s can be more cost-effective than incandescent over time. Check out this calculator to see how much energy and money could be saved by making a switch. For on-campus spaces, submit a work order with Facilities if LED lighting has not yet been installed.
- Launder thoughtfully: wash full loads and use cold water, then hang dry! Did you know the dryer is the second highest energy-consuming appliance after the fridge! Learn more about saving energy while doing laundry here.
- Learn about the benefits of going solar and how you can retrofit your own home: visit Solar Washington or Let’s Go Solar. It is easier than you think!
- As we work towards reaching zero carbon emissions, it is predictable that we will still produce carbon along the way like traveling to see family, attending a conference, studying abroad, participating in an athletics game, etc. One way to compensate for the emissions from travel is by paying for carbon offsets that support projects such as tree planting, renewable energy installation, methane capture, or clean stoves. Offsets should never be seen as an excuse to emit more carbon or to avoid changing the more systematic issues that perpetuate the use of carbon, but they can counterbalance the emissions that are being emitted while we work towards long-term solutions. Interested in carbon offsets for your air travel but not sure where to start. Check out this "Offsets guide." RESOURCES COMING SOON.
- The Seattle University Employees Retirement Plan includes four Socially Responsible funds. View the List of Investments.
- Use the CSR Hub to explore environmental ratings and sustainability behaviors of major companies in North America, Europe and Asia.
Click here to see a suggested list of books, films, videos, and podcasts.