Science & Tech

10 ways to help

2 min read

1. Drive less: Walk, bike, and take public transportation instead. Check out the Harvard Commuter Choice Program for information on ridesharing, discounts for MBTA passes, and more.

2. Turn off computers: Computers in sleep mode and laptops closed but plugged in use power. Shut computers down and unplug them.

3. Unplug chargers: Those little plastic transformer boxes that charge cell phones and cameras and other items use up almost 10 percent of the electricity in your house, even when they are not attached to equipment.

4. Turn out the lights: Simply turning out the lights in empty rooms can save significant amounts of energy.

5. Take shorter showers: Heating water for showers uses significant energy. Showers account for two-thirds of all water heating costs. Save, on average, 350 pounds of carbon dioxide and $99 per year by shortening the length of your showers or turning down the water temperature.

6. Adjust your thermostat: Dress for the season and take it easy on the thermostat. Turn down the heat when not in your room. Rooms warm up quickly when heat is turned back on—no sense in heating an empty room.

7. Eat less meat: As global consumption of meat has risen, so too has the farm animal population, placing incredible strain on the planet’s resources. Livestock are a major contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Reducing the quantity of meat in your diet can significantly decrease your own GHG footprint.

8. Wash clothes in cold water: Most modern liquid laundry soaps work well with cold water. By washing clothes in cold water, you will significantly reduce energy use. Up to 90 percent of the energy used to wash clothes goes toward heating the water.

9. Ditch the plastic: Avoid disposable water bottles and use refillable containers.

10. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Rethink: Paper, cardboard, books, bottles, cans, computer equipment, and even office furniture can be recycled at Harvard. Learn about the University’s ambitious recycling program.

Do you have ideas about how Harvard can be more sustainable, including ways the University can decrease greenhouse gas emissions? Please share them with the Harvard sustainability implementation team at