It’s that time of year when we make promises about how we’ll change ourselves in the upcoming new year. We look for ways to make a change in our lives, hoping better health or a better job or less stress. Some resolutions are small, others are big life-changing challenges.
New Year’s resolutions are often broken, especially if they are hastily made without thinking through the logistics. But if you take a few moments to think about what you want for the upcoming year, you’re more likely to choose realistic commitments.
Going green is a great way to start off the new year, but it’s such a broad term that the specifics of how you’ll go green could end up taking a back seat to daily life. Instead of making a broad generalization, choose a few specific ways to green your life in 2010.
Not sure where to start? Naturally Savvy has 25 suggestions to get you started.
1. Banish paper and plastic bags from your life. Always carry at least one reusable bag with you and it will soon be as routine as grabbing your keys when you head out.
2. Switch your monthly bills to e-billing. Even if you print them out at home, you’ll eliminate the postage carbon footprint and reduce paper use (no envelopes and annoying “special offer” inserts).
3. Before you throw anything away, ask yourself if you can use it in a new way or if someone else could use it.
4. Recycle anything and everything you can. Even if you have to drive items to a depot once a month, it’s worth it to save raw materials.
5. Start composting — it’s simple and you get free fertilizer.
6. Install a gray water system.
7. Paint only with no-VOC formulas.
8. Switch to an electric kettle for boiling water. Electric kettles use less energy than their stove-top counterparts, and there are stainless steel options available if you’re wary about boiling water in plastic.
9. If you’re replacing appliances in 2010, pay a little more for the most efficient Energy Star models — they’ll save you money in the long run.
10. Build a rain barrel to get free water for your garden and plants. (Tip: In the winter, collect snow, scoop it into a pail, and bring it inside so it can melt and be used for watering indoor plants.)
11. Walk more, particularly if your destination is less than 30 minutes on foot. It’s good for your health and the environment.
12. Take public transit. Students often have a transit pass included in their fees, and some cities even have free public transit, so use it!
13. If you can live without a car, do it. In most cities, the cost of a transit pass is still less than you’d shell out for insurance, gas, and maintenance or car payments.
14. If you must take a taxi, call the company that has a fleet of hybrids or electric cars.
15. In the market for a new car? Choose a green hybrid or electric.
16. Buy a bike, or build one at your local bike shop. While other people are stuck in the snarl of rush hour traffic, you’ll breeze by and be home much more quickly.
17. Go vegetarian one day a week. The livestock industry is a huge greenhouse gas emitter.
18. Eat organic — it may not be nutritionally superior, but it’s a lot better for the planet.
19. Refuse to buy foods that are unnecessarily packaged, such as fruits and vegetables.
20. Annoyed by excessive food packaging? Tell your grocer or the manufacturer. Fire off an e-mail or write a formal letter expressing your concern. (As a rule, every letter a company receives represents about 50 people of a like mind.)
21. Grow your own fruits, veggies, and herbs.
Fashion & Beauty
22. Commit to buying green fashions — think organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and other sustainable, natural fibers, as well as recycled fabrics.
23. Switch to all-natural cosmetics. A good rule: If the ingredients list looks like a lesson in chemistry, steer clear; if you’re stumbling over Latin, you’re looking at the names of plants.
24. Switch to a nail polish brand that is made without toluene, DBP, and formaldehyde. (Piggy Paint, London, and American Apparel Nail Lacquer are a few options.)
25. Shop at secondhand and charity shops before hitting the mall or your favorite boutiques. You can usually find some great gems.
These are just a few of the ways you can commit to going green in the new year. Just remember: It can be a challenge as you adjust to a new way of thinking, but it’s worth sticking with it.