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Cougars and Mustangs 

Have tough economic times left your local university in a budget bind? The Green Campus crew at Cal Poly is promoting a simple cure to relieve some of that duress. Their remedy? “Turn ’em out.”

This week, the wandering eye that is Cougars and Mustangs settles its inquisitive gaze on some Earth-loving Cal Poly students—as they reach out to help turn it out.

Throughout November, the environmentally minded Green Campus Program will be raising awareness of electricity use throughout campus.

“Our goal is to teach students to turn out the lights,” Team Manager Ravi Sahai explained. “You wouldn’t think it would make a difference, but we can save a lot of money through these simple acts.”

Walking through the Cal Poly campus at night, strollers can see first hand the many illuminated empty rooms on display. While this may seem like a trivial thing to casual passers-by, the 43.3 million kilowatt hours used, along with the $4.4 million wasted, may not.

“If every light was turned off when the room wasn’t in use, the school would save $200,000,” Sahai said.

The Green Campus Program is comprised of a collection of concerned students whose aim is to spread the gospel of sustainability. Each month the group chooses an area of sustainability and conservation to promote. Other areas of awareness the group has addressed are water conservation and ride-sharing.

To raise awareness when it comes to electricity use, the group initiates various projects on campus, as well as facilitates multiple outreach programs. Using the catch phrase “Turn ’em out,” the group is promoting the occasion via online contests, workplace certifications, and even a video featuring the infamous Mr. Eco rapping for the cause.

Echoing the eco-advice of environmentalist par excellence David Suzuki, Sahai said that rather than looking at the big issues such as pollution and climate change and feeling overwhelmed, it’s much more efficient and effective to take small steps.

“We are teaching people to make small behavioral changes, to know that they don’t have to do big things,” Sahai said.

The group’s website serves as a valuable resource—posting suggestions and tips to help us all become better oriented to all things sustainable. Whether switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs or cleaning light fixtures and lenses to get the best possible light, we find that there’s no step too small in raising eco-awareness.

To find out more about upcoming projects, for-credit internships, or to listen to the stylings of the celebrated Mr. Eco, visit

Intern Jason Keedy compiled this week’s Cougars and Mustangs. Send your collegiate news to [email protected].

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