Nov 15, 2018

Settling Sustainability

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“Ask The Experts” is written and provided by Scholarship Media. It does not reflect the views of The Collegian or its advertisers.

I’m getting near the end of my time in college, and I’m fortunate to have a job lined up. In a few years, I’d like to start to settle down by buying a house and a car. During college, I became very interested in sustainable living and climate change, and my goal is to “settle down” in an environmentally sustainable way. At the same time, I don’t want to live an extreme lifestyle where I eschew modern conveniences completely for the sake of sustainability. What are some things I should take into consideration when making big purchasing decisions (like a car or house) if I’m mindful of my environmental impact?


Sustainable living will only become more important in the coming years, so your desire to plan accordingly is great! You certainly don’t need to eschew all modern conveniences to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but you’ve keyed in on two major contributors to a person’s carbon footprint: housing and transportation.


Luckily, companies are developing technologies that help vehicle-reliant people to get biodiesel. Biodiesel is sourced from recycled oils instead of fossil fuels, so the environmental impact is greatly reduced. Estimates put biodiesel’s carbon footprint at 85% lower than traditional petroleum-based fuels, and evidence suggests that biodiesel is better for your car’s engine. Thus, an investment in a car that can use biodiesel fuel is one way to reduce the impact of having a car on the environment. You may not even need to get a particular or expensive car to use biodiesel, as many cars can use biodiesel without engine modifications. You’ll just want to check the manual or talk to the salesperson about a car you are interested in buying.


As mentioned earlier, and discussed in your question, housing is a major factor in sustainable living. The raw materials used to build a home, as well as the energy consumption to construct it and then to live in it mean that any home will have an environmental impact. Many people wonder whether it’s more environmentally-friendly to build a new home with the latest green technologies or to renovate an existing home. This is a complicated question, but renovating or fixing up an existing home can often be “greener” because most of the materials have already been extracted and much of the work has already been done. If you decide to update an existing home, make sure that you have a solid structure in place before doing further renovations to make the home more eco-friendly. One of the most common problems with older homes is the foundation. Over time, soil shifts and the house settles, and the foundation may need repairs. For example, foundation repair experts in Charleston, South Carolina offer a guide to signs that a home may have foundation issues, and companies like theirs can be integral into making sure your future home has a solid foundation. Once you’ve ensured the structural integrity of your home, there are lots of sustainable home technologies you can think about integrating, from solar panels to low-flush toilets. New technologies emerge all the time, so be sure to keep an eye out for the most effective ways to achieve sustainability with your future home!  


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