Although we are a LEED Gold certified building, the true key to environmental friendliness and sustainability is in your lifestyle and habits. We would like to make sure every single one of us impacts the environment as little as possible, and that we work towards making our lifestyles sustainable both in Ashdown House and beyond. Here are some simple tips that would go a long way in helping create a planet that is habitable for the future generations to come:
1 ReduceReducing resource usage is the best way to help keep a sustainable planet, and is more powerful than recycling. Before you do anything, think about not the economical costs to you, but the resource costs to the planet, for the better of our own children to come.
1. Switch off your lights, air conditioners, heater and other appliances you are not using every time you are not in your room. Make sure your suite lights are off at night. Please set your computer to automatically suspend when idle, if you do not run a server that needs to be on.
2. Reduce car usage and use public transportation. Please avoid using taxis or zipcars if the MBTA, public buses, trains, walking or bicycling are options. Consider not the time it takes (you can leave earlier), not the effort, but the resources we use that we could spare for our own children. Learn to use the MBTA transport to get to places within the Boston suburbs. Also by using public transportation, you help financially support it so it can improve over time.
3. Reduce energy usage when not necessary. Dry clothes on clothes racks, especially in summer when it's hot (electric dryers consume over 10 megajoules per load, a very significant energy drain). Buy energy-efficient appliances when they exist. Try to make use of daylight instead of artificial lighting.
4. Reduce use of disposable items. Convenience is not an excuse to waste materials and increase trash that is harmful to the environment. The idea of "disposable" is not sustainable. Please bring your own plates and utensils to dormitory events as well as events that you organise with your friends. Please also keep a set of reusable plates and utensils in your office for campus events; most office areas have a kitchen nearby where you can wash your items -- ask!
2 Reuse5. Reuse shopping bags or buy reusable ones which cost $1 each from Shaw's. Take your reusable shopping bags and use them at other locations that don't provide them. It is not necessary to waste plastic bags, even if they give them to you. If you do take a plastic pag, please reuse it a few times! A single plastic bag can go a long way before being trashed, if your items haven't ripped them.
6. Got something you don't want? Even old and broken electronics, books and other things have a large number of people at MIT that seek them and will squeeze more life out of them, or even fix them, instead of creating more landfill waste. Two mailing lists, Ashdown-talk (within Ashdown) and Reuse (MIT-wide) are great places to find someone to take your items fast. Simply post to ashdown-talk (at) mit.edu and reuse (at) mit.edu about what your item is, where it is, and how you can be contacted.
3 Recycle7. Please recycle everything that can be recycled. Ashdown House is now on single-stream recycling which means that you can place all recyclable items in one bin. HOWEVER, please do NOT put trash in recycle bins! The following items, in particular, should NOT be recycled: napkins, styrofoam, aerosol cans, food waste (rinse containers to empty large bits food waste -- it's not necessary to wash them). For more information about what can and cannot be recycled, please see this flyer.
4 BeyondWe hope that in the interest of the future of humanity, including our own children, that you will take these and some other tips with you beyond Ashdown, to the workplace, family and beyond, for life. It is important not only in our dormitory, but anywhere, regardless of where on the planet you are, to help conserve resources so that our planet is habitable in the future. Our usage of oil and other resources is clearly faster than the Earth can supply it, and may run out in our lifetime. A crisis is at hand, and it is important that each and every one of us, as future world leaders, start saving now. You may have to spend a little more now, but only from good actions now will we and our children have a plentiful planet to live on later. Please be a responsible world citizen by saving resources and energy in your office, lab and family as well.