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This morning, as I was reading Mother Jones, I saw Kiera Butler list of environmental resolutions and was inspired to make one here. So these are suggestions for the rest of us to have for our new year’s green resolution list. Even if you can only do one, it would greatly help the environment and most of these will also save you money.

This morning, as I was reading Mother Jones, I saw Kiera Butler list of environmental resolutions and was inspired to make one here. So these are suggestions for the rest of us to have for our new year’s green resolution list. Even if you can only do one, it would greatly help the environment and most of these will also save you money.

1.    Stop using plastic. I know this is the hardest thing you can possibly think of, because it is EVERYWHERE. It’s in your clothes, your drinks are in it, your cans are lined with it, and then there is the obvious plastic bags. So here are a few ways you can cut plastic out of your life or at least cut it down AND save money (because who can’t use that in the new year).

     a.    Reuse ziplock bags. Wash them out with hot water and soap, hang them to dry      and use them against.
     b.    Stop getting plastic grocery bags. This can be easy if your community is charging you per bag, but many places they don’t. Cloth bags can be purchased cheaply or you can ask for paper, as almost all grocery stores have a paper option. Also, most stores give you 10 cent credits per bag. You can even bring your paper bags back and reuse them.
     c.    Also, bring a few smaller cloth bags to put your veggies and bread in at the store. Make sure they are giving you credit for these as well.
     d.    Stop using plastic trash bags. If you have cut out plastic shopping bags, you may be wondering what you can use to line your trash can. I use paper bags. I make sure I rise out all of the containers I am putting in there when not recycling them and I either wait till right before I put out the trash to throw out food or compost food that did not make it.
    e.    Buy natural fiber clothes. You would be surprised how much plastic is in your clothes.
     f.    Reuse shampoo, soap and cleaning containers. Either make your own (and you will also save a TON of money if you do) or get it from the bulk area and refill the ones you have.
     g.    Stop using plastic drinking containers. Water is free if you get it out of the fountain and portable if you bring your own container. If you get in the habit, you won’t forget them. I use a glass juice jar with a lid.

2.    Food resolutions. As I was writing this list I realized I had a ton of food related ones. Probably because I am teach the Sociology of Food this spring.

    a.    Do meatless at least one day a week. Easy to do if you are a vegetarian, but us meat lovers like our meat, eggs, cheese and ice cream. BUT carnivores can save some money by planning ahead and having a meatless/dairyless day or two or three.
    b.    Cook – I know we are all busy, but there are lots of ways to cook your food in a timely fashion. I recommend getting a crockpot. It can make multiple days of food and you can cook almost anything in there including lasagna, beans and rice, and whatever you have sitting in the fridge that is on the verge of going bad that you are not sure what to do with. Leftovers also make for great lunches the next day. Eating out is expensive and really wasteful (think of all the trash you end up with from going to a drive through).
     c.    Shop at farmers markets and get to know your farmers. I spend a lot less on groceries when I shop the farmers market. Also, I know exactly where my food comes from and the people who are growing it. I know what they are using and have even gone and visited the farms.
    d.    Buy Organic – I know it is expensive, BUT if you just buy organic meat (and you are reducing the amount so it is not as expensive ), dairy, and the dirty dozen it become more affordable.
    e.    Buy whole foods – if it is processed it’s probably not good for you anyways and it uses a TON or energy, resources, etc to make.
     f.    Compost – either get a compost bin or start a worm bin or a compost pile in the yard (if you have a yard). It cuts back on the trash.

3.    Cut back on water use.

    a.    We all like long hot showers, but it uses a lot of water, even with the new reduced flow shower heads you are 2.5 gallons a minute. Take a bath, shower every other day (or in the winter when you are not sweating shower ever third day – really you will not smell).
    b.    Stop using the dishwasher. If you are washing your dished before you put them into the dishwasher and then turning on the dish washer – just wash your dishes and be done with it.
     c.    Grow gardens not lawns or landscape with local plants or rock gardens. If you love your lawn (and I totally understand that one) reduce its size with landscaping.

4.    Cut back on energy use

    a.    Turn off the lights and use energy efficient bulbs
    b.    Turn down the heat and put on a sweater. 65 and a sweater works great and saves money. If you think you are freezing, go outside for 5 minutes and the house will seem toasty warm.
    c.    If you happened to be buying new appliances or cars get ones that reduce energy and gas use to the ability of your wallet.
    d.    Turn off the TV, video games, computer, and other devices and spend time with others. It cost less money and human contact is a good thing. This is especially true if you have kids.
    e.    Hang large items out to dry. Blankets, comforters, sheets, thick jackets, and jeans can all be hung to dry whether it is on a line outside, the railing on the balcony, or over the shower curtain. They take a lot of time to dry in the dryer. I finish them off in the dryer (30 minutes max) because I hate how crunchy they get. But it is better than the two hours it takes some of these to dry.
     f.    Don’t drive. It is hard to do when you live in a rural area, but if you are in a city, there are lots of ways to get around with your car.

5.    Waste not want not

     a.    Recycle EVERYTHING. This includes clothes (make pants into shorts, old shirts into cleaning clothes), paper, glass, etc. If your community doesn’t have a recycling program, work to get one.
    b.    Buy used clothes, especially for young kids. They grow out of them quickly, so if the ones you have are in good shape pass them on, go to a consignment store or donate them.
     c.    Use a mop rather than a Swiffer or other things like that. You have to pay for the chemicals and the pads and throw each one out after use. A mop and vinegar water (I also add orange oil for a nice smell) does the job fine and costs less.

Well that is my list. I tried to pick ones we can all do no matter where we live and that will end up saving you money. I would love to hear what other ideas you have.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Here in Montgomery County, MD (0+ / 0-)

    they're trying to phase out plastic bags. Now we have to pay for them in order to get one in local stores. It really does change the way you think when you have to remember to grab your own bags before you head out the door to the store. But I'm proud that the county is doing this.

    Our company has recycling containers on every floor, and we also have reusable mugs and silverware in all the kitchens. And we have a "Bike to Work" week to get people interested in using bikes or other alternative forms of transportation.

    It all helps

    Refuge Watch -- news from America's national wildlife refuges

    by Naturegal on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:12:15 AM PST

  •  I like the idea of having a green resolution, BUT (0+ / 0-)

    many of the things you've mentioned have a relatively small impact. Washing out our ziploc bags is tedious, probably unhygienic, may cause chemicals like BPA to leach into food, and won't save our planet.

    Now, that being said...there ARE many ways to make a real difference. E-mail, write letters, join groups and otherwise lobby for environmental policy changes at a higher (municipal, state/province, federal) level. If you can get everyone to change a particular habit -- like phasing out plastic grocery bags -- it will have a lot more impact on the global environment. (As Naturegal suggested, changing company policy to make it greener is also very helpful.)

    Join groups like www.avaaz.org and www.350.org which are composed of many people working together to combat climate change. These groups seek out and target "tipping point" issues -- the global meetings or legislation that can have a real impact on our world's future.

    As for ways to make a difference in one's own life: I would say going partially meatless, switching to public transport/biking/walking when possible, not buying bottled water, and cutting down on overall consumption are probably the best, in terms of impact for the effort involved. There are also a bunch of ways to make one's home more energy efficient, some of which you mention. These are useful too.

    Dishwashers, on the other hand, are more energy efficient than sink washing. Buying organic can also be pretty carbon-intensive, because the food is often shipped from far away. I would say, too, that making one's own soap/shampoo containers, and buying it from bulk, is just not feasible or really worthwhile for the small return in "greenness".

    ...And please don't stop showering. ;)  (jk)

    •  Thank you, though, for helping raise awareness (0+ / 0-)

      and promote a green lifestyle -- it is great to see other activists working to help our planet. :)

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