Emma Sleeth has left dorm life to move back in with her parents. Though she’s living in the basement, Emma is concerned that her ecological footprint is bigger now than it was at college: “It’s not like I’ve suddenly started throwing Styrofoam in streams or anything. I still recycle, dry my clothes on a rack, and use compact fluorescent lights. We even compost at home, which my cafeteria at college did not do.”
So what's the problem? Emma is grieving the loss of the inherently "green" aspects to community life of a dorm: “Without a roommate, I take up twice the square footage I used to. In college, there were always other people going to the same place; now I drive by myself instead of carpooling. The idea of actually owning books and clothes instead of constantly sharing with the hundreds of other girls in my dorm is overwhelmingly not environmental. And I can’t even have a houseplant in my room — although I don’t have north-facing windows like I did in college, a basement window just isn’t going to cut it sun-wise.”
Emma is still very much on the right track, though. Why? She’s thinking about it. Caring for the earth and leaving it better than when she arrived is on her radar. I asked Emma to offer the Art House America audience a few of her best tips on living the green life:
—Change light bulbs to compact fluorescent.
—Keep cloth bags in your trunk so that you always have them on-hand when you go shopping.
—Use fans instead of A/C when it’s hot outside, and put on an extra sweater instead of turning up the thermostat during the winter.
—Use recycled office supplies.
—Dry clothes on a line instead of in a dryer.
—Turn off electronics when you’re not using them, and unplug the cell charger once your phone is fully charged.
—If you like coffee, drink only shade-grown blends, and bring your own mug to work or Starbucks instead of using disposable cups.
—Go on a walk or bike ride instead of going to the gym to use the treadmill.
—Give environmental gifts: pass on a book you liked, make a donation to a non-profit in your friend’s name, or make a meal with food from your garden instead of buying something new.
For more ideas, check out www.blessedearth.org or follow @BlessedEarth on Twitter.
Charlie is a record producer, Sr. VP of A&R for Twenty Ten Music, and Co-Founder of Art House America.
Emma Sleeth is the author of It’s Easy Being Green: One Student’s Guide to Serving God and Saving the Planet. She recently graduated from Asbury College in Wilmore, KY. Her parents run Blessed Earth, a Christian environmental non-profit, and are both published authors. They love her but hope she gets a job soon.