As the turn of the New Year occurs, many thoughts turn to making changes in the coming year. New Year’s resolutions are an important part of the tradition for many people. “Out with the old and in with the new,” could very well be the motto of this particular celebration in the hearts and minds of so many. Why not make a few practical and green resolutions this year, like some of those listed below?
Resolve to Eat Greener
This isn’t necessarily about eating more vegetables, which is certainly a healthy choice for the coming year. Going organic is the best choice for the planet and your health because of all the steps organic farmers take to conserve resources and avoid harming the planet in their farming practices.
This is about making greener choices when purchasing food. It includes things like buying produce, meat, and dairy products that are produced locally. You get more benefits than you may realize from this decision, such as:
- Lower total carbon footprint since the food doesn’t travel as far.
- Fresher produce because it hasn’t spent many days getting from the field to the store.
- Lower costs if purchasing from farmer’s markets in your community that lack grocery store overhead, expenses, and markups.
- The peace of mind that comes along with supporting local businesses.
- Money, and jobs, flowing back into your local economy.
It’s amazing how one small change can impact so many lives. The ice cream on top is that making this decision eliminates many processed foods in your diet, which means you’re eating healthier too.
Resolve to Reduce Waste
There are many small steps you can take to reduce the waste in your home and in your life. These are great places to begin.
- Go paperless. Call your utility services, cable provider, mobile phone carrier, etc. and enroll in paperless billing. It eliminates countless piles of paper waste in your home – that often ends up in landfills. It also helps to conserve the trees and fossil fuels expended into creating that paper in the first place. The same holds true for magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Turn to the Internet for your news, and generate less paper waste in the process.
- Purchase products with less packaging. Unnecessary packaging occupies a great deal of space in landfills around the world. Even recycling this packaging, to the extent that is possible, requires the use of energy, wastes fossil fuels, and creates emissions.
- Shop with reusable bags. Plastic bags create a whole host of problems for the planet and the creatures that call this planet home, and that’s before you factor in the waste they create alone. The plastic bag problem looms so large that some U.S. cities have already taken action by banning plastic bags, according to TreeHugger.com.
- Use reusable water bottles. Skip the plastic water bottles. Go with filtered water and a reusable water bottle instead. There are many excellent products available for water, and the easy access will have you reaching for water more often.
- Go digital. Believe it or not, you can reduce a lot of waste by making the decision to go digital. Just as you can save paper by reading magazines and newspapers online, you can also reduce waste by turning to digital formats for books, movies, music, and even photographs.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle, and repurpose. When it comes to your own items, consider this core action of people committed to saving the planet. You can do this with so many things in your life – breathing new life into the items and keeping them out of landfills. Clothing, shoes, tools, books, and so much more can be useful to others even when no longer useful to you. Consider donating them if nothing else, otherwise you can hand them down to other family members, sell them in garage sales, or transform them into art.
These simple steps alone will help you reduce the waste generated in your home. If you are truly resolved to reduce waste, you may find additional, easy steps you can take to do just that.
Resolve to Buy Less
When you are determined to buy fewer items, you’ll find that the items you do purchase take on greater importance. They represent greater needs or fill very specific purposes. You also begin to take notice of the quality of those items and the carbon footprints they leave behind. It’s a simple step and extremely practical step in the right direction for the planet. Unfortunately, in our consumer-driven society, it’s a surprisingly difficult step for many families to take.
One Green Planet points out that as a consumer based society we’ve been programmed to upgrade to the newest cell phone on the market or buy new clothes – even when we don’t need them. Focusing on high quality products means you can get more life out of fewer items, and that’s a worthy goal to set.
Resolve to Choose Greener Transportation
Gaiam.com recommends considering going without a car if at all possible. You’ll not only save a great deal of money, but you’ll also be confident that you’re making a wise choice for the planet. Bicycles and public transportation make it possible to get most places if you live in a city that has a solid public transportation system.
Other options include participation in car share programs, investments in hybrid vehicles, or going all-electric if the bulk of your transportation is close to home.
Resolve to Update Your Home with Greener Products
It’s not just the things you buy to fill space within your home that can be harmful. The stains you put on your woods and the paints you use on your walls can contain VOCs that are harmful to you, your family, and the planet. The good news is that you can look for products that do not contain these items – they’ll usually have words like Low VOC or No VOC in the labeling.
Resolve to Use Less Energy
This is a difficult one for many families that have small children at home. It’s not always easy to train the young to be good stewards of the planet when it involves using less water or turning off lights. But, it’s worth the effort, and you’ll even save money! This means you have to work around them sometimes by doing things like the following.
- Improve the insulation in your home so that it stays cooler inside during the summer and warmer inside during winter.
- According to UrbanNaturale.com, start small by turning off lights when leaving rooms. Alternately you could install motion detecting lights that automatically turn off when movement isn’t detected for a certain period of time – especially useful for households with small children.
- Use solar lights on the exterior of your home.
- Turn the thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter.
- Layer clothing in the winter for added warmth.
- Close vents in rooms that aren’t used as frequently.
- Conserve water.
- Stop drafts under doors and around windows.
These resolutions may not seem that big alone, but if every U.S. household adopts only one of these changes the difference for the planet will be monumental.
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