By Brandon Sparks
Large corporations will play a large role in charting a sustainable energy future, but individuals can also impact the future.
The greatest role an individual can play is in saving energy. Not only does this action often lead to monetary benefit, but it also affects and pressures industries in a way that will lead to a sustainable energy future.
Saving energy is easy. First, focus on petroleum products.
Cut down on gas by driving smarter and less often. Remember to coast, avoid idling for long periods of time, carpool with friends, keep your tires properly inflated, and get regular tune-ups. Ride a bike and walk to save energy, but just as importantly to get some fresh air and appreciate nature. If your home is heated by natural gas (or electricity), keep the temperature colder in the winter and wear a sweatshirt. Remember to call your energy company and get on a budget plan to also avoid higher bills in the winter.
Other daily practices can help with lowering electricity use. The most obvious is turning off lights. Never leave your room or house with a light on. Also invest in compact fluorescent bulbs; though the price may be higher at the initial purchase, the long-term benefits are tremendous. At night, turn off your computer and power strip. When you are not using your computer during the day, at least put it in sleep mode. Most computers also have power-saving options, which not only save battery power but also lower energy use when plugged in. Keep track of your phone while it is charging; a fully charged phone still draws power from the outlet.
Last, reuse materials that would otherwise be thrown away. Plastic bags and water bottles are the easiest to reuse. A better investment is to purchase a metal water bottle and canvas bags in order to remove yourself completely from the use of plastic bags and bottles. Remember to recycle whenever possible, as well.
Most importantly, be conscious of your daily energy use, and you will be able to come up with creative and useful ways to play your part in creating a sustainable energy future.
Brandon Sparks is a senior in Notre Dame’s Glynn Family Honors Program, majoring in anthropology and the Arts and Letters Pre-Professional Program. He has been active in the University’s sustainable energy and environmental efforts as a member of the post-Forum planning committee and co-chair of the student committee for the 2008 Forum.
This article is part of a 10-day series titled Perspectives on Sustainable Energy. Subscribe here for updates.