It’s a new year, and many of us want to start fresh, banish unhealthy old ways and usher
in healthier, more positive, new habits.
I know I do.
For most of us that means crafting “new year resolutions”.
And for me, my most important quality of life resolutions have to be “green”.
Why? Because green resolutions have positive effects that are both immediate
“By implementing at least some
of these green resolutions
(or others of your own),
we will save money,
help protect the environment,
and support better health.
We will be bolstered by the
notion that we are
part of a global movement
to make a significant impact
now and to make the world a
better place for future generations.”
We will also enjoy more time with family, friends and community,
which can be very rewarding.
So this year, why not make your own list of green resolutions?
But what should those eco friendly resolutions be?
What kinds of commitments can you, and ideally, friends and family make
toward a greener new year?
Here are the first 10 (of 25 ideas) for green resolutions to implement this year
that can really make a difference.
#1. Neighborhood Clean up Day
Resolve to organize a cleanup day for your neighborhood or community.
Or, if your area already has one, commit to participating.
January is actually a good month to begin planning such an event.
It gives you plenty of time to get things organized before holding the cleanup in spring.
Don’t wait until summer; cleanups go much more smoothly if they are held before the bugs,
heat, and poison ivy get serious.
If you go with this resolution, here are some things to keep in mind:
-Identify what specific area you would like to clean up.
-Check with local authorities to make sure the area is permissible.
(If it’s private property, check with the owner.)
Most property owners would be glad to have their property cleaned up for free – they may
even join in the cleanup day.
-Section off the area to be cleaned up, and identify what specific tasks need to
be done in each area.
-Write down each task and be ready to assign them to your volunteers.
-Make a day of it.
-Send out electronic invitations, have snacks and beverages available that are
appropriate for the time of day, and make sure everyone has bags, gloves, and litter-grabbers.
Agree to volunteer at least once in the upcoming year.
Ideally, you will resolve to volunteer regularly, such as every month or even week.
You could volunteer at a cleanup day that someone else organizes.
You could also volunteer at your local soup kitchen, food pantry, or other charitable
Nursing homes also welcome volunteers.
If you love animals, check with your local humane association.
They nearly always need volunteers to walk dogs, clean the enclosures, and help with
Wherever you choose to give your time, you’ll find it’s an eco-friendly,
community-minded thing to do.
#3. Start a Recycling Program
Does your workplace lack recycling bins?
Do you get frustrated on walks through your neighborhood because there are no recycling
receptacles on curbs, roadsides, and sidewalks?
Does your school or your child’s school not have a recycling program for its copious
Take it upon yourself to get that done this year.
If you start a recycling program at your workplace, make sure you talk to your boss and go
through the proper steps.
Speak with your local solid waste authorities to head start a neighborhood recycling scheme.
And go through the principal and faculty for school recycling programs.
Making sure you respect the people in charge gets your recycling project off to a good start.
Resolve to donate your used items that you no longer really need.
Be honest with yourself about the scanner sitting in your basement, the dress you haven’t
worn in 2 years, the table and bookshelves in the garage that you were going to refinish or paint,
and so on.
Even old eyeglasses can be donated, as well as cell phones and other electronics.
Check with local schools and even prisons to see if they will accept electronic donations such
as computers and printers.
And go through your closet and donate old clothes.
Try to get your kids in on this, too, and donate some of their toys.
Getting those items back out into circulation means they will be used again, which is so much
less wasteful than throwing them out and buying new items.
#5. Fine-tune Your Recycling
If you are making green New Year’s resolutions, you are probably already engaged in recycling
in your own home.
But you can resolve to do it better.
Here are some ways to ramp up your own recycling.
a.Get creative with your recyclables.
You can do so many things with bottles, cardboard boxes and tubes, newspaper,
and so forth.
Let your imagination run wild.
*Use old cereal boxes for gift boxes.
Cut them up to use as backings for pictures, to make flashcards, or any craft that
*Plastic bottles can be made into birdfeeders.
Cut off the bottoms to make candle holders.
*Glass bottles can be used as candle holders as they are.
An inexpensive glass cutter can be purchased and the top of glass bottles
cut off to make drinking glasses.
*Newspaper can be used to make papier-mâché, fire starters, wrapping paper,
and to pack items tightly into boxes.
*Scrap paper (even junk mail) can be used to make bookmarks, origami, and
The thin pages of catalogs and magazines are especially good for origami.
*Get books from the library or search the internet for ideas on recyclables.
There are whole books and websites dedicated to the creative use of recyclable materials.
There are even whole books dedicated to just one recyclable, such as cardboard tubes!
b. Get organized at home.
Make sure your recycling bins are easily reached and clearly marked.
They should be categorized according to your local recycling center’s requirements.
If floor space is hard to come by, bolt them to doors or walls.
Stacked bins also save floor space.
If possible, use bins that can be transported to the recycling center or put out at
the curb as they are.
This avoids the use of even more “go-between” containers as you haul items to the center
#6. Commit to eating local, organic, seasonal food
Learn what local produce is available in your area.
For example, in early December in Washington state, apples, mushrooms, pears,
onions, carrots, and potatoes are seasonal.
At the same time of year in North Dakota, look for local cabbages.
In Virginia, spinach is fresh and in season in early December.
Look online for various charts and guides to local, seasonal, organic foods.
It’s a growing movement, so the information is plentiful.
While you’re making resolutions on the subject of food, consider
your meat-eating habits.
Resolve to cut back on meat–that means different things to different people.
For example, one vegetarian meal a week might be a big step for you.
For someone else, eating meat only once a week would be more their style.
Changing to a vegan diet is a choice that many are taking and there are
many books and websites to help you with your transition such as Peta.org.
Whatever takes you a step in the right direction is valid.
When and if you do eat meat this year, make it free-range and organic if it’s
poultry or pork, and grass-fed if it’s beef.
If possible, eat meat that is locally raised on small farms.
#7. Resolve to Waste Less Energy in Your Home
This is a multi-faceted commitment.
You don’t have to do all of these things, but maybe choose one or two things off of the
following list of energy-saving tips to implement this year.
–Turn down the thermostat, especially when you are not home.
-Make sure your attic is properly insulated.
-See that windows and doors are sealed.
-Use weather stripping if necessary.
#8. Detoxify Your Home
In the upcoming year, vow to replace all your hazardous chemical cleaners and many
of your toxic personal care products with natural ones.
You can purchase natural, biodegradable cleaners, or make your own.
Chemical-based cleaners to consider replacing around your home include:
-“All-purpose” cleaner (for countertops, tables, and so forth)
-Bath soap (Switch to natural, vegetable-based soaps.)
-Dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener (Consider dryer balls or other natural softeners.)
-Toilet bowl cleaner (Vinegar and baking soda cleans toilet bowls very well.)
#9. Save Energy Around the Home
This is a biggie.
Start with your home’s use of electricity.
Then move on to other resolutions if you like.
Just pick what you think is doable from this list.
Here are some things to consider as you resolve to use less electricity
-Turn down the temperature of the thermostat in winter and turn it up
in the summer.
Resolve to use fans and open windows on all but the very hottest days in the summer.
Consider augmenting your winter heating with space heaters.
If possible, get an insert for your fireplace if you have one and burn wood.
-Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LEDs instead of traditional incandescent
-Close vents in rooms that do not get much use during the day.
This includes the basement and any spare bedrooms.
Even your regular bedroom may not see much activity until bedtime; keep the vent
closed during the day.
-Invest in a pressure cooker to reduce energy.
Pressure cookers cook food faster at a low stove top temperature.
Other Ways to Save Energy Around Your Home:
-Hang your laundry outside when you can.
Resolve to air-dry your clothes at least once a week.
If the weather is bad or cold, just run a length of clothesline in your house and hang
up the clothes there.
In the winter months, this will greatly improve your home’s humidity.
-Insulate your attic.
So much heat escapes through the roof, because heat rises.
Make sure there is a winter “hat” on your home.
-Use weather stripping around your doors and windows.
This is inexpensive stuff to buy, but it will save a lot of energy and money.
-For the bottom of your door, use a beanbag-type “draft dodger” or install a “skirt”
on your door.
These skirts or flaps are typically less than $5 and adhere to the bottom of your door.
They create a barrier between the door and the floor, reducing drafts.
You can also make your own draft dodger by sewing a long tube and filling it with
beans or other stuffing.
If you don’t sew, stuff an old cardboard tube (wrapping paper tubes work well and are
generally the right size) with towels or rags and lay it across the bottom of the door.
You can leave it as-is or decorate it however you like – maybe leave some of the
wrapping paper on it!
-Insulate your water pipes.
The foam sleeves used to insulate water pipes are very inexpensive and easy to install.
They keep the hot water in the pipes hotter longer, and the sleeves also prevent freezing.
–Wrap your hot water heater in insulating material.
Your hot water heater uses a lot of energy, and this helps keep the water hot for longer
without the heating elements having to be on.
Maybe one of your energy upgrades this year could be a tankless water heater.
#10. Upgrade Appliances
Commit to upgrading at least one appliance this year.
You can start saving money now and buy it later in the year if you like.
Some ideas include:
-Energy Star stove, refrigerator, and microwave
-Energy Star washer and/or dryer (the dryer uses more electricity – you might want to
go for upgrading that first)
If money is an issue (and it is for most of us), consider buying a refurbished appliance or
one that has a slight visual flaw.
Sometimes you can get a good deal on a “floor model” that has been used for display.
Want more tips?
Check out these related green living posts:
Which of these green living suggestions are you planning to add to your
personal list of green resolutions this year?
Share your thoughts, experiences and other suggestions with us.
Please stay tuned for part two of this series….
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