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footprints in the sand

Reduce Your Impact

Have you considered your personal impact on the planet? You can calculate your impact and make simple changes to reduce your carbon footprint and tell us about them.

Calculate Your Impact

Use these calculators to see how your lifestyle choices affect the environment:

  • Determine your eco footprint and estimate how much productive land and water are needed to support the materials you use and discard over your lifetime using the Ecological Footprint Quiz. Answer 15 simple questions, then compare your eco footprint to other people’s — and to available natural resources.
  • Calculate your commuting cost and find a cheaper, more eco-friendly method of transportation.
  • How walkable is your neighborhood? Find out on Walk Score.



Unplug appliances that use power when they're turned off, like:

  • TVs
  • Stereos, CD and DVD players
  • Computers and printers
  • Video game systems
  • Mobile phone and device chargers

Office Equipment

  • Purchase energy-efficient equipment.
  • Turn off office equipment that is not being used, such as printers and copiers (unless such machines are Energy Star certified units that reduce energy consumption during periods of inactivity).
  • Use energy-saving settings on your computer and turn it off in the evening.
  • Use laptop computers if possible. They consume 90% less energy than standard desktop computers.
  • If possible, use ink-jet printers. They consume 90% less energy than laser printers.
  • Select the right-sized copier. A mid-volume copier in a low-volume office can use up to 70% more energy per page than a low-volume machine.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
  • Avoid leaving an "away" message up all day on your instant messaging program.
  • Be patient in the event of lighting, ventilation, and possibly elevator curtailments (where multiple elevators exist) as facilities staff attempt to manage UCSD's electric load.
  • Be prepared for a possible lab power failure by shutting down machines that could incur damage, including loss of data.


  • Turn off the lights when no one is using the room.
  • Use natural light instead of electrical lighting whenever possible.
  • Use CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) instead of incandescent light bulbs.
  • Install lighting motion sensors in common areas.
  • Request a lighting evaluation from the Facilities Management Customer Relations Service Referral Desk, (858) 534-2930.

Indoor Climate

  • Set thermostats to 78 degrees on hot days and 68 degrees on cold days.
  • Dress comfortably for the weather, and adjust your layers before adjusting the thermostat.
  • Keep rooms cool by closing shades, especially in empty conference rooms, offices, and common areas.
  • Turn off electric space heaters. (If you are uncomfortably cool, put on a sweater.)


  • Keep fume hood sashes closed whenever possible. This reduces the load considerably for building exhaust fans and supply fans and reduces thermal energy use from the Central Utilities Plant.
  • Turn off air valves.
  • Fill autoclaves before use.
  • Remove antiquated equipment.
  • Turn off all lights and equipment when leaving for the day.


  • Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers more often than necessary.
  • Postpone using washers, dryers, and dishwashers until after 7 p.m. (or later) during an alert.
  • Avoid using high-wattage appliances, machines, and illumination.
  • Dress in layers to avoid using fans or portable heaters.
  • Purchase Energy Star appliances such as refrigerators, washers, and dryers.


  • Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, shaving, and soaping your hands.
  • Run full loads of laundry and dishes.
  • Take shorter, cooler showers.
  • Install ultra-low flow shower heads and faucets.
  • Install low flush toilets, or put a brick in your toilet tank. (The brick takes up space in the tank, so you use less water.
  • Run sprinklers during early morning or late afternoon.
  • Plant native species that are adapted to our semi-arid climate, and avoid planting turf grass.
  • Fill reusable water bottles at campus hydration locations.


  • Use alternative transportation, including UCSD shuttles, public transportation, carpools or vanpools, bicycling, and walking.
  • Avoid driving in circles to find the closest parking spot.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated for better gas mileage.
  • Avoid sudden starts and stops.
  • Turn off your vehicle instead of idling.
  • Drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle, including hybrid and electric vehicles.


  • Ask for reusable dinnerware, including silverware, cups, and plates instead of disposable dinnerware.
  • Use your own beverage containers and utensils whenever possible. You receive a discount on beverages when you bring your own cup or mug.
  • Take only what you need, including food, condiment packets, paper napkins, straws, plastic drink tops, and other disposable items.
  • Take only silverware that you will use. Whether you have used a utensil or not, it must be washed — using energy, water, and cleaning agents.
  • Save your leftovers.


  • Only copy materials that you really need.
  • Make double-sided copies whenever possible and request double-sided printing at copy centers.
  • Print single-spaced drafts of documents and double-spaced copies for final versions only.
  • Use the "Print Preview" function to view documents before printing.
  • If you print it, pick it up from the printer.
  • Reuse paper that has been printed on 1 side for scratch or note paper.
  • Edit documents on screen rather than printing copies.
  • Save files and e-mail messages electronically. Don't print hard copies of everything.
  • Post information on the Web or use e-mail instead of printing fliers and memos.
  • View your W-2 online.
  • Opt out of unsolicited phone book deliveries.
  • Stop delivery of paper ledgers and instead use FinancialLink.

Reuse and Recycle

Use wisely and reuse whenever possible:

  • Use canvas shopping bags instead of paper or plastic.
  • Use old newspaper to wrap gifts.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.
  • Use only what you need of cleaning products; half the recommended amount is usually sufficient.
  • Refill soap and detergent bottles from bulk containers.
  • Borrow books from the library instead of buying them.
  • Donate old items to charity instead of throwing them out.
  • Flatten and save boxes for future use.
  • Re-address envelopes for interdepartmental mail.

Buy with the planet in mind:

  • Buy recycled and organic products.
  • Buy products from ecologically responsible companies.
  • Buy environmentally friendly cleaning products.