Daily habits to reduce resource consumption

Purchase gently used items rather than brand new ones.

  • Visit a local thrift store or vintage shop.


  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room. A large portion of our energy comes from fossil fuels, which are a primary source of COemissions in the U.S.
  • Unplug electronics and appliances when you are not using them, especially over vacations and breaks.  They continue to draw power even when switched off; this is referred to as a ‘phantom load.’
  • Use natural daylight whenever possible and forego electric lights.
  • Close your blinds and/or shades at night in the winter to keep heat from escaping. Open them during the day to allow sunlight to provide natural heat.
  • Use rechargeable batteries. They last about three years with average use, which translates into savings for you and fewer batteries in landfills.
  • Re-think your thermostat settings – a degree higher for air-conditioning and a degree lower for heating could save $100 per year on your utility bill.
  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) or Light Emitting Diode bulbs (LEDs). CFLs use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. LEDs can be even more efficient than CFLs.
  • If you own a home, make sure it is well insulated so you do not waste energy. It will also keep your home more comfortable.
  • If you own a home, use a programmable thermostat to avoid cooling or heating your home when no one is home.
  • Purchase Energy Star rated products. They use less energy and in-turn save you money on your utility bill.


  • Use your microwave instead of your oven any time you can.
  • Keep the refrigerator door closed.  For every minute a refrigerator door is open, it will take three minutes for it to regain its temperature.
  • Set your refrigerator between 37°F and 40°F anything colder wastes energy.
  • Use a dishwasher.  A study done by the University of Bonn in Germany determined that a modern dishwasher uses only half the energy and one-sixth of the water, less soap too, than washing by hand.


  • Wash your clothes in cold water.  Doing so will save energy and money.  Except for the dirtiest of laundry, there are no drawbacks to using cold water.
  • Clean the lint filter to ensure your dryer is running as efficiently as possible.
  • Air dry your clothes when possible. It will save energy and keep your clothes from shrinking in the dryer.
  • When washing clothes, wash and dry full loads to save energy, water and time. If you must wash a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.


  • Ditch the elevator; take the stairs whenever you can. It is great exercise and better for the environment.
  • Carpool, walk or bike when you can. You will save gas and money and prevent vehicle exhaust emissions.
  • Utilize Elon’s BioBuses whenever possible.
  • Keep your vehicle’s tires properly inflated and the engine tuned to maximize your gas mileage.
  • Register for ShareTheRideNC and find a carpool partner.
  • Join Elon’s Car Share program.


  • Shut down your computer and turn off your monitor when you are away from them and overnight to save energy.
  • Enable the power saving settings on your computer to save energy and battery life.  For guidance on doing so: Windows and Mac.
  • Use a desk or clip-on lamp instead of overhead lights.
  • Double-side your print and copy jobs to save paper and space.
  • Consider paying your bills online to save paper, postage costs and reduce fuel consumption.
  • Choose paperless for your bank and credit card statements. Online statements save paper and reduce fossil fuel usage.


  • Take a shorter shower. If all members of the Elon community saved just one gallon of water from their daily shower (decreasing shower time by less than 1 minute), over the course of a year it would equal over 2.3 million gallons of water!
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. If you have a standard faucet and brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day, you will save over 8 gallons of water per day!

Buy/use items that are reusable, recyclable and/or third-party certified

  • Use a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water. You will save money and prevent plastic waste.
  • Use a reusable mug for your coffee or tea rather than a disposable cup. Think about the number of cups you could keep out of the landfill – hundreds a year, thousands in your lifetime!
  • Use a reusable cloth or canvas bag at the grocery store. The benefits to our environment include less waste, less litter and resource conservation.
  • Try to use cloth napkins, sponges and cloth towels instead of paper. You will save money and reduce waste.
  • Purchase paper that contains recycled content. Paper products made with recycled content save trees, water and energy.
  • Purchase products with environmental certifications when possible such as Green Seal, Greenguard and Fair Trade.
  • Try to buy products with minimal to no packaging. You will save money and prevent waste from entering a landfill. On average, nine cents of every shopping dollar is used for packaging.

Eat with purpose

  • Buy local foods as much as possible. Buying locally reduces the amount of fossil fuels burned to get your food from the farm to your table and supports the local economy.
  • Buy organic foods when you can. Organic farming systems rely on ecologically based practices and do not use synthetic chemicals. Learn more about organic foods.
  • Use Local Harvest or the Eat Well Guide to help locate restaurants, farms and other sources of responsibly grown, local food.
  • If you do not know if an item is local, organic, sustainably harvested, ask the site manager.  Even if you do not get an immediate response, asking lets food providers know there is demand for such products.
  • Make a conscious effort to eat less meat. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates about 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions are derived from meat production.

Dispose of all your stuff responsibly

  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – in that order. Using less should come first but remember to recycle everything you can.
    • Aluminum cans. It takes 95% less energy to make a can out of recycled aluminum and produces 95% less greenhouse gases.
    • Plastics. Recycled plastic can be made into a number of products, which reduces the need for virgin materials.
    • Paper products. Every ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees.
    • Glass. Recycling glass reduces waste, saves energy, and conserves natural resources.
    • Electronics. Electronic recycling reduces the amount of hazardous materials that may enter our environment.
  • Donate lightly used unwanted clothing, furniture and appliances to a local shelter, Goodwill or Salvation Army.