With winter break right around the corner, and the days and nights getting ever chillier, Sustainability at SOU would like to provide you with some tips to reduce your footprint while still staying safe and warm.

Do vehicular inspections

It’s time to winter-ize your vehichle. Check your air filter and fluid levels, check tires for tread wear and proper inflation and check the condition of your windshield wipers. Ensuring your vehicle is ready for weather changes and inclement weather will reduce damage thereby preventing waste from broken parts, and will keep you safe on the road. Properly inflated tires can also improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency (EPA).

Use alternative transportation

Better yet, take a load off and use Southwest Point- a new bus stop right on campus that will take you all over Southwest Oregon. Now you can get where you need to go without that stress of driving in potentially dangerous winter conditions. You’ll save money on gas, and reduce the number of emissions being put into the atmosphere! Click here to check out their website and learn more.

Don’t leave your car idling

Rather than letting your car idle, it is best for both the environment and your car if you turn your car on and begin driving by easing into it, without revving your engine.

Idling is when a driver leaves the engine running and the vehicle parked. Contrary to popular belief, restarting your car does not burn more fuel than leaving it idling. Idling for even 1 minute wastes more gas than restarting the engine. By not idling, you'll be protecting both the air quality and your pocketbook from gas prices!

De-icing your windshield

All you need are 3 things: a spray bottle, water and rubbing alcohol! Fill the spray bottle about 1/3 of the way with water. Now, fill the rest of the bottle with rubbing alcohol, shake it up and spray windshield liberally. Watch as the ice melts away! Turn your windshield wipers on to remove excess ice and you're good to go! No idling required!

Keep warm: wear more layers!

Rather than cranking up your heater at home, wear more layers! Depending on your energy source, your heater most likely uses fossil fuels. Putting on another coat or another layer of socks can help keep your energy bills low, and your environmentally-conscientious practices high!

Burn only dry wood 

wet wood burns incompletely and releases more pollutants into the air. Not only does this smoke end up drifting toward your neighbors, but it can settle around your own house and be drawn back into your home. Respiratory diseases (like asthma) are a serious and growing health threat, and tiny particulates and pollution in wood smoke are among the causes. Burn bans are called when air-pollution levels become unhealthy to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse. Only burn on designated Burn Days. You can check local news sources to see whether or not it has been designated okay to burn, or if it is a No Burn Day (Washington Dept. of Ecology). Click here for the link to the Jackson County website, where it will tell you if you can burn or not, and what the quality and visibility of the air is (updated daily).

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, save your ashes in a tin instead of throwing them away. Cold wood ashes can be mixed in your compost heap to create a valuable soil amendment that provides nutrients to your garden (EPA).

For more tips on sustainability, click here for the Washington State Department of Ecology website where you can learn more.