by Sara DeSantis & Matt Ringard | Opinion Editor & Assistant Opinion Editor

While there are many large and ambitious projects underway both nationally and right here on campus, efforts toward sustainability can manifest themselves in small, everyday activities. Not only are these activities environmentally beneficial, they are also surprisingly easy and can often save money. So, for this week’s column, here are four ways you can make your days greener:

1. Turn off your lights! This is a simple and incredibly easy act that can save energy and money. Granted, this mindset is not as easy to adopt when living on campus and not seeing electricity bills, but get into the habit now: it will help Saint Mary’s consume less, and it will train you for the future when those dreaded bills have your name on them. Next week is “Flip the Switch Week,” wherein the dorms on campus compete to turn their lights off and unplug utilities to lower energy consumption. This is a great time to start getting into the practice for yourself.

2. Turn off the tap! The average faucet releases two gallons of water per minute, and so often, we mindlessly let the tap run. Whether we’re brushing our teeth, washing our hands, or filling up our beloved Brita pitchers, those gallons flow quickly, and a lot of water is wasted. If you leave the water off while brushing your teeth, you can save anywhere from six to eight gallons of water per day. Like turning off the lights, this is an easy activity, and one that benefits now and in the future — those water bills are expensive, too.

3.  Don’t dump, donate! On an average day, each American tosses out four-and-a-half pounds of garbage each day, adding to the amazing total of 245 million tons per year.  What’e even more shocking is that much of the items thrown away can be donated to groups in need.  The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and local shelters will accept unwanted items in decent shape.  If you can’t make it off campus, find the Goodwill bins placed in your residence hall by members of the Green Living & Learning Community.  This environmental act benefits both the ecosystem, because you are helping to lessen the amount of waste dumped in an area, and is also a good source of karma points for giving to those in need.

4. Save gas! For those lucky Gaels who have cars, gas prices are a heavy burden. An easy way to save gas, of course, is to simply drive less. Combine trips and coordinate with friends to carpool for errands, or even take the bus if you have time. When driving, try to drive the speed limit and keep a constant speed: too much acceleration and braking can reduce your fuel economy by over 30%. Driving the speed limit is doubly beneficial, because it’s safer and will save you from an expensive ticket from the notoriously vigilant Moraga Police.

These are just four ways of living a more sustainable life. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other little daily tips that can reduce your footprint, benefit the environment and, more often than not, help you save money.

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