Living a Low-Waste Lifestyle
From composting to using a snow plow that runs on kinetic energy, professor reduces his carbon footprint.
Stuart Tsubota can be seen biking to campus for work on a fall morning or driving his hybrid car in the frigid winter. He’s turned some heads in the Village of Brockport when using a unique plow outside of his home plastered with solar panels.
That’s because Tsubota has had a passion for the environment ever since he was first exposed to environmental issues during the world’s first Earth Day: April 22, 1970.
“Earth Day has changed a lot over the years,” said Tsubota, now a professor in the Department of Biology at The College at Brockport. “The issues and predictions were not nearly as extreme as they are now, and it was more of a ‘love the environment’ approach.”
Concerns around global warming and increasing waste would later reach mainstream media thanks to research within the scientific community.
Committed to doing their part in helping to protect the environment, Tsubota and his wife have adopted a green lifestyle, seamlessly introducing eco-friendly alternatives to everyday essentials.
“I don’t think it is really any harder to live like this; if anything, you just need to think more about everything you are doing,” Tsubota said.
Tsubota has created a compost in his backyard that reduces his overall environmental waste. Instead of throwing away degradable material that will further overflow a landfill, the compost will degrade it over time, turning it into soil.
He also uses a compostable alternative for a common issue many dog owners face.
“We have three dogs who need to use the bathroom a lot,” Tsubota said. “Instead of plastic bags, we purchase a cheap, compostable alternative that allows us to put the waste and bag directly into our compost instead of using a plastic bag.”
Tsubota also focuses on reducing his carbon-based waste from fossil fuels. With the help of his sister, he managed to find a unique eco-friendly solution to a problem everyone in upstate New York faces. When removing snow from his driveway, Tsubota uses a plow that utilizes only kinetic energy.
“It is not like a shovel at all as it uses your leverage to help lift the snow, taking the strain off your back,” Tsubota said. “It does lead to a lot of comments from the people who drive by our road when they see me using it.”
Tsubota also installed solar panels on his house nearly eight years ago. While he was initially worried about how they would perform during cloudy and long winters, the panels have been far more efficient than he expected.
“While our electrical needs aren’t as large as most families since it is just the two of us, the panels account for about 50 percent of our electrical use,” Tsubota said. “We have already made back our investment and we still have the rentals on the solar panels for another 12 years.”
Tsubota continues to search for environmentally friendly alternatives to his every-day activities. For those interested in living a more green lifestyle, he has two important pieces of advice.
“Always remember to reuse and recycle,” Tsubota said. “But also never stop thinking of ways you can cut down on your reliance of carbon-based fossil fuel. Try to do things locally; shop local, which will cut down on your energy use the most.”
In his free time, Tsubota performs with a Rochester-based dance company known as BIODANCE, which “explores social, political, and environmental issues.” For more information on BIODANCE and other interesting faculty hobbies, read The Port’s The Secret Lives of Faculty.