Campus, News

Some sacrifice appliances for the environment

The seemingly innocent wired devices attached to walls and power strips around homes are actually ‘energy vampires,’ Roberta Goldschneider, executive director of the Green Education Foundation, said.

‘Telephone chargers, iPod chargers and televisions’ are the voracious eaters of household energy, Goldschneider, whose organization co-sponsored Boston University Green Day last week, said. ‘Pull out your energy vampires.’

Because electronics that are always plugged in are constantly sucking up energy, they drive up electricity bills and harm the environment, Goldschneider said. Some energy vampire slayers have even answered the call to eco-consciousness with a simple, but dramatic, response: kicking their fridges out of the kitchen.

The New York Times featured the fridge-free habits of environmentalists in a recent article Feb. 4, and eco-conscious bloggers have been debating whether a fridge-free lifestyle that requires more frequent food shopping is actually the most carbon efficient way to go.

Students may not have the option of changing how their dining hall food is refrigerated, but there are smaller ways to go green, Goldschneider, a 1974 Boston University graduate, said.

‘There are people that will be more passionate than others, and there is a place for everyone,’ she said. ‘ If someone wants to give up a fridge that’s fine, but there are many ways to be green.’

For students who cannot go without a refrigerator or do not control their dorm-sanctioned Micro Fridge, Environmental Student Organization Vice President Hannah Leone said students can take shorter showers, unplug unused electronics chargers and set their laptops to hibernate.

‘Try to use as little as possible, as little electricity, less energy and buy less stuff. Less is key,’ she said. ‘You don’t have to buy energy efficient products, just use your old appliances to their maximum capacity.’

Downsizing to a smaller fridge is also a way to watch energy consumption, BU Energy Club Secretary Patrick Michaelan said.

‘The simple thing is that refrigerators are bigger than they need to be and tend to be rather high energy consumers,’ he said.

Banishing the ice box entirely is ‘a great idea, but you might be hugging the tree a little too hard,’ Michaelan said.

Environmental health professor Michael McClean said the fridge is one the biggest energy drains in a house, and for people committed to ‘green’ living, it could make sense to unplug it.

‘However, for green living to be sustainable it has to be practical,’ he said. ‘I just don’t see giving up a refrigerator as a practical move for most people.

‘There are so many ways that we can reduce our carbon footprint that the impact it has on our lives is almost negligible, in terms of quality of living,’ McClean said. ‘Those are the changes we should be making, because they will have a big impact.’

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