The new year is a time when people set lofty (or not-so-lofty) goals for themselves to live up to in the following 12 months. A lot of these goals have to do with personal development like losing weight or vowing to cut out junk food. Other goals have to do with giving back to the world you live in through volunteering or donating old clothes. But one thing’s for sure: people who go at their new years resolutions without a plan are almost certain to fail, breaking them as early as one or two weeks in.
One way to improve both yourself and the world you live in is to make a commitment to go green in the new year. There’s a handful of baby steps you can plan to take in the direction of going green, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your efforts snowball throughout the year.
1. Buy fresh produce instead of canned veggies. There are a number of “green” reasons to do this. For one, you’re cutting down on the trash you throw away while cooking (think can wrappers, plastic packages, etc). Even if you recycle on a regular basis, buying fresh produce still means you’re cutting down on the resources and pollution used in making and transporting the cans. In addition, you’re cutting down on your sodium intake and feeding yourself fresher, healthier food. You’ll even see yourself saving money over time with some products. (Tip: For beans, buy bags of them and boil them on your own. It takes more time, but you can boil just the amount you need without letting any go to waste. Plus, you save lots of money.)
2. Downsize and eliminate clutter in your home. Live with only the essentials. Doing this creates more space in your home for you to breathe, relax and enjoy your family’s company without so many distractions. You’ll also be surprised at how much stuff you can live without, which will in turn result in you buying less and less, saving you money and saving space in landfills. Better yet, you can use your unneeded or unwanted junk to sell in a yard sale or on eBay for extra cash. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of having a sale, donate to the needy.
3. Unplug unused electronics. Anywhere from five to 10 percent of your energy used comes from plugged in, unused electronics. If you start unplugging things when you’re not using them, you could see a drastic difference in your electric bill, and you would significantly lower your carbon footprint over the course of one year. Walk around your house or apartment and look for things like televisions, DVD players, laptops, coffee makers, lamps, microwaves and toasters that are just sitting around and sucking energy. Plug them in when you need to use them, and pull the plug when you’re done. Once you get into the habit, it will be like second nature and you’ll be saving energy without realizing it.
4. Make greater use of your Internet service. Reading your news online and using online services like YouTube and Hulu for your entertainment will help you cut down on your carbon footprint as well. Even through you’re using energy to read the paper on your computer, you’re not using up the paper, ink and fuel resources it takes to deliver a hard copy to your door every morning. Consider cancelling your cable television subscription and watch your favorite shows online instead. People without a cable subscription tend to watch less TV, resulting in less energy usage. They also save more money.
5. Use less gas. If you live in a non-rural area, try walk or bike around town instead of driving everywhere. If you’re going on a longer trip, find others to carpool with or start a carpooling system at your workplace. It’s a win-win-win situation. How? Win: you save money on gas, Win: you use less gas and lessen your carbon footprint, Win: you enjoy the fresh air, get more exercise and get to enjoy the company of others more often.