Sustainable living at NAU

Whether this is your first time living away from home or you have decided to live on campus with us for another year, we know that you are in the midst of compiling a shopping list of items that you want for your new room. We have created this guide to help you think about making some environmentally responsible choices while shopping for college. 

You may not think your individual choices will make a difference, but collectively, we make a difference together! Every decision and choice you make will have an effect, so here is our way of making it easy for you to have both a positive effect and a green living experience while you are at NAU

Beyond just buying more environmentally friendly items, it is also about thinking and acting green with how you go about your daily life. Below you will find more information about why we suggest these items and other ways you can live green at NAU. 

Now that you have made the decision to be a No Impact Jack, we want to recognize your efforts. Make sure to go here. You will be asked to commit to a certain number of sustainable behaviors while living at NAU. By completing the form and making the commitment, you will get your Sustainable Living certification and you will be recognized with a No Impact Jack sign on your door for bragging rights.

Reducing: Start by Buying and Bringing Less!

You have heard of the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle), right? Reducing is often listed first because it is the most important one to do.

We all like to acquire “stuff,” and we are always hearing about the latest and greatest new gadget or fashion style that instantly: we. must. have. Before you pull out your wallet, we encourage you to ask yourself these questions first:
Do I need to replace what I already have?

  • Where and how was it made? 
  • How will I be using it and how often? 
  • Where is it going to end up when I am done with it? 
  • Do I really need it?

If you decide you really do need certain items, especially for your new room, consider holding off on buying everything until you get here and get settled in. You may discover that you don’t need as much as you thought you did. Additionally, keep the following in mind:

  • Consider buying used items, like shelving, at a local thrift store after you figure out what you need and what you have space for in your room.
  • Make sure to consult with your roommate(s) so you do not duplicate efforts. For example, do both of you need to bring a TV and DVD player for your room? 
  • Consider leaving your gaming system at home. All of our communities have one for use in the lounge. 
Reducing: Don't be an Energy Hog

EnergyStar Electronic Appliances
Why should I?

  • They use 10-50% less energy.1 

CFL light bulbs
Why should I?

  • A CFL light bulb uses 75% less energy and lasts about 10 times as long as an incandescent light bulb. 
  • This means the one you buy for your desk or floor lamp should last you all four years of college!2 

Power strips
Why should I?

  • Did you know that many items are the cause of “vampire energy” because they still draw power even when you aren’t using them? 
  • Common items responsible for this problem include cell phone and IPod chargers, televisions, gaming systems, and computers. 
  • Flip the switch or unplug to kill the vampire energy! Doing so can cut your daily energy use by about 10%.Think about the impact if all 7000 students living on campus took this action.
  • Make it even easier on yourself by buying a smart power strip, like this one. A flip of the switch leaves on those items that still needs power, but turns the rest off.

Drying rack
Why Should I?

  • It makes your clothes last longer. It reduces the possibility of shrinking, and the heat from dryers fades the colors and weaken the fibers with repeated use. 
  • It saves you money. It costs 75 cents to dry each load of clothes. You can buy a drying rack for $20 to $30 and use it for many years. If you dry two loads of laundry a week, you will pay off a drying rack after one semester of school!
  • Obviously, it saves energy if you are not using dryers. Running a clothes dryer results in about 2 kilograms of greenhouse gases being released with each use.4 

Use alternative transportation
Why should I?

Reusing: It Will Save You Money!

I don’t know about you, but I can always appreciate saving a little money. Here are some easy ideas that will do the same for you.

Reusable water bottle and travel mug 
Why should I? 

  • Stop using those boring disposable cups and show off your personal style with your own drink containers.
  • A 50 cent discount at all campus dining locations for bringing your own.
  • Filtered water refill stations in all residence halls, the Union, the Franke Business School, and the Dub; with plans for more installations around campus.
  • We live in a state with serious water shortages anticipated in the very near future!
  • In 2009, of all the purchased water bottles, only 28% were recycled.5 
  • It has been estimated that one bottle of water wastes the equivalent of five bottles of water in manufacturing.6 
  • The Columbia Water Center estimates that Americans drink 21 gallons of bottled water per capita per year. If applied to NAU's 23,600 full time students, an estimated 495,600 gallons of water was consumed while nearly 2.5 million gallons of water was wasted in the manufacturing process.7
  • The student organization, Net Impact, estimated that NAU students sent 1.5 million one-liter water bottles to the landfill.8
Reusable silverware, dishes, napkins, and dishtowels
Why should I?
  • These onetime purchases will save you money in the long run, and allow you to reduce the amount of trash you send to the Flagstaff Landfill.
  • There are inexpensive and fun options at both local discount stores and thrift stores. Yet another way to show some personal style!
  • You can carry silverware and a napkin with you in your backpack and cut down on your waste while eating at the Union or the Dub.
  • You are going to have to do laundry anyways!
  • During the average year, each American uses about 2200 paper napkins, which is an average of about 6 a day. This means that NAU’s 23,600 full time students use over 51 million napkins a year!9 
Reusable shopping bag
Why should I?
  • Still another inexpensive way to show some personal style and cut down on your waste.
  • Many stores offer a discount for bringing your own.
  • Sturdier than those cheap plastic bags
  • Campus Dining Services no longer provides plastic bags at our on-campus convenience stores or restaurants so you SHOULD bring your own, it’s the campus norm. They estimate that this policy changes allows them to avoid giving out about 30,000 plastic bags each year.
  • The United States uses over 84 billion bags each year. They are not biodegradable, are harmful to wildlife, end up back in OUR food chain, and are made from petroleum, a non-renewable natural resource.10 
Rechargeable Batteries
Why Should I?
  • Again, it will save you money in the long run if you use batteries regularly in an item. 
  • Discarded one-use batteries have toxic chemicals in them that have a harmful effect on their environment. Chemicals like nickel, mercury, and lead acid can end up in our soil and water supply affecting us, animals, and plant life.11 
  • Here’s a helpful guide that talks about the different types of batteries and best uses for each type. 
  • Have alkaline batteries that you need to get rid of? Take them to the Information Desk in the University Union. They will make sure they are properly disposed for you.
Go Natural: Avoid Chemicals that Are Unhealthy for You and the Environment

Organic and/or sustainably produced linens
Why Should I? 

  • Won’t you sleep better knowing there aren’t any nasty chemicals potentially in the material you will be putting next to your body every night? Yuk! Do something nice for yourself and the environment.
  • Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically-dependent crops, sucking up 10 percent of all agricultural chemicals and 25 percent of insecticides on 3 percent of our arable land.12 

Green cleaning and personal care products
Why Should I?

  • Many brands of both household and personal care cleaning products contain chemical ingredients that can be toxic to us and the environment. Others can cause irritations or aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma. You shouldn’t use anything that you would not want to breathe in or come in contact with your skin!
  • Consider using the Good Guide website to review their evaluation and scoring of different products’ impact on your personal health, the environment and society. It also provides the ingredient list for rated products. How do your current products rate?
  • Some possible brands of cleaning products to consider are: Ecover, Method, Seventh Generation, Clorox Green Works, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, ECOS, and Shaklee
  • Some possible brands of personal care products to consider are: Burt’s Bees, Tom’s of Maine, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
  • Want to take it one step further, and make your own non-toxic cleaning products out of everyday household items? Check out this how-to guide or this one.
  • Want to learn even more? This guide that breaks down what different ingredients mean that you find on labels.