20 Personal Sustainability Tips

buy local

1. Buy local

Locally produced items have less of an environmental impact than products produced elsewhere, because of the reliance of fossil fuels during transportation. Shop at farmers markets, local stores, and Buy Local NB for locally sourced goods.

2. Shop thrifty

Before you go out shopping for new items, first consider if you need to buy it or if you could borrow it, then check your local thrift stores or local online marketplaces. When you buy second hand you reduce demand for new items that take resources, energy and emissions to produce, and you reuse an item that may otherwise have been sent to the landfill.

3. Buy fair trade

When shopping look for fair trade certifications to support companies that treat employees ethically and pay sustainable wages. By purchasing fair trade certified products you contribute to a socially sustainable world. 

4. Eat less meat

Decrease the amount of meat in your diet. If you eat meat at every dinner try switching once a week to a plant-based meal. As you reduce the amount of meat you consume you contribute to a more sustainable environment, since livestock production accounts for 18% of greenhouse gasses.

reusable mug

5. Bring your own Mug

At UNB, single-use coffee cups are a large source of waste. When buying coffee on campus bring your own reusable mug to reduce waste production and save money. Bringing a mug saves you 15 cents on your coffee at campus cafés, if you purchase coffee daily this amounts to $54.60 in savings each year!

6. Utilize SUB reusable to-go containers

The SUB grill offers a reusable to-go container program to help you refuse single-use plastic. When ordering, opt for a reusable container. Bring back the container the next time you order and they will give you a fresh reusable container to take your food in. This program has an initial one-time fee, but you get a discount each time you order so it will pay for itself quickly. Also, you do not need to worry about cleaning the container, as they trade your dirty one for a clean one each time.

7. Bring reusable dinnerware

Come to campus prepared to refuse single-use plastics by packing a reusable cutlery set, straw, water bottle, and take out container. If you are a first year student you will be all set, as your orientation package has provided you with a cutlery set, straw, and water bottle that you can reuse for years.

biking at UNB

8. Use active transportation

Using active transportation, such as walking, biking, longboarding, etc., to get to campus is a great way to reduce your carbon emissions. These commuting methods are not only good for the environment, but are also a great way to get exercise, spend time outdoors, and save money.

9. Take the bus or carpool

If you are unable to use active transportation for commuting to campus, take the bus or carpool instead. Reducing the amount of single occupant vehicles on the road helps reduce carbon emissions and combats climate change.

UNB sustainability course

10. Take a sustainability class

To learn more about sustainability, take a class that incorporates sustainability topics. At UNB there are 108 sustainability related courses offered. If you are passionate about environmental sustainability and want to learn even more, consider pursuing an Environmental Studies minor or secondary major.

11. Host a green event

If you are planning any events on campus, make them sustainable and have a “Green Certified” event. Find out more about the steps for making your event green. This is a new initiative on campus to promote and accredit events doing their part to make UNB more sustainable.

12. Join a sustainability related club

If you want to get involved with sustainability at UNB consider joining one of the many sustainability related clubs and societies on campus. Check out the various clubs and how they prioritize sustainability.

doing laundry sustainably

13. Wash in cold water

When doing your laundry, set the machine to the cold cycle. About 90% of the energy used by washing machines goes into heating the water. Using cold water saves energy and is also good for your clothes.

14. Conserve water

When doing laundry wait until you have a full load to run the washing machine, doing larger loads less frequently will reduce your overall water usage. Also, take shorter showers to conserve water and energy, as heating water requires energy consumption.

UNB dorm room sustainability

15. Lower your thermostat

Wear a sweater and lower your thermostat. If you have electric heat, lower your thermostat by two degrees to save 5% on your heating bill. Lowering it five degrees could save 10%.

16. Passive heating and cooling

In the winter, open your curtains during the day to allow the sun to warm up your room. In the summer, close your windows and curtains during the day to keep out the sunlight and heat, then at night open them up to allow the cool night air to lower the temperature in your home. By passively heating and cooling your dorm room or house you will conserve energy.

17. Set to energy saving mode

Many electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and cell phones have energy saving modes. To reduce energy consumption, turn on your devices’ energy saving modes, and set them to “sleep” after a few minutes of inactivity. Remember to turn off your computer and monitor once you finish working.

18. Turn out the lights

Turn off any unnecessary lights. If you are the last to leave a room or common area be sure to switch off the lights to save energy. When your incandescent light bulbs burn out, if possible, replace them with LED.

19. Unplug electronics when not in use

Small appliances, electronics and other electric devices use standby power when plugged in, even if not being used, which can account for 10% of an average household’s annual electricity use. Unplugging items, or using a power bar and shutting it off when you leave your dorm or house will remove excess phantom loads.

recycling ewaste

20. Recycle your electronics

To keep harmful chemicals from being released into the environment at landfills, recycle your unwanted personal electronic devices, such as cell phones, batteries, and empty printer cartridges.
UNB Fredericton has three e-waste recycling bins on campus, drop off locations are outside the ITS department in Head Hall, the University Bookstore lobby, and the Harriet Irving Library Commons. As well, UNB Saint John hosts an annual e-waste recycling day.