By Bill Brown, Director of IU Office of Sustainability
Chances are very good that you will be away from campus during the winter holiday break for at least a few days, or weeks, if not for good – congrats to the December graduates!
As you gear up to get out of town, consider taking a few minutes to make a big difference.
You can give planet Earth and Indiana University a gift while you are gone by reducing consumption of resources you will never miss. Tis the season for making lists, so I have a checklist for winter break as we vacate our classrooms, offices, homes, and apartments.
- Unplug anything that is plugged in that will not be in use while you are gone. Be aware that many appliances draw electricity even when you are not using them. Unless you want to consume really old stuff when you return, empty out your refrigerator, defrost the freezer, and turn it off, if you are going to be gone for an extended period. These are major energy hogs. Great to start the New Year with a fresh, clean fridge and ice that is not from the Ice Age!
- Shut the sash. This applies to window sash and lab fume hood sash. Make sure your windows are latched to keep out drafts and other Grinches.
- Turn down the thermostats. You will not be there to feel the chill. Consider cranking it down to 65 degrees when you are gone. If you have access to your water heater thermostat, turn it down, too. If you are in a house that is subject to winter pipe freeze ups, now is the time to add insulation, automatic heat tapes and other precautions before you go.
- Mind the flora and fauna. Please don’t leave pets and plants unattended or release them into the local environment. Make a plan for their care. Do not dump aquaria containing living organisms. Exotics can cause chaos for local ecosystems. When in doubt, check with the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter: 812-349-3492, www.bloomington.in.gov/animalshelter
- Check the flow. If you have a problematic plumbing fixture, such as a toilet that runs on or a faucet that drips, consider turning it off at the wall valve while you are gone, if you can’t get it fixed before you leave. Make sure all faucets are turned off. Check to make sure that any garden hoses are detached from outdoor hydrants and stowed to prevent frost damage.
- Take it out. Take out the trash, composting, and recycling before you leave. This can get stinky while you are gone and entertain uninvited guests. If you miss the pick-up cycle, city and county drop-off stations are open daily.
- Donate. If you are graduating and leaving town, consider donating your useful items to local agencies such as Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity Restore, or Hoosier Hills Food Bank, rather than leave them on the curb or in the dumpster. This will lighten your load and give you a jumpstart for your holiday spirit.
In any case, may your holiday season be safe, merry, and bright and may your wishes come true. All the best as you say farewell to 2012 and welcome the New Year of 2013!