Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ten Easy Green New Year's Resolutions

So New Year's has come and gone and its time to start thinking about the resolutions that we made for the year. An easy way to select a resolution that you can stick to is to select something to implement in your everyday life. They say it takes 21 days to start a habit or break a habit so in 3 weeks your resolution should be firmly in place! Below are a list of Ten Easy Green Resolutions to help you in your green journey and in keeping your resolutions. I promise, they are easy!

1. Shut off the lights when you leave a room This is a very easy to implement green New Year's resolution. How many times have you walked out of a room and left the lights on and the TV going, not to return for an hour or more? Whether you are on the phone or making dinner, if you keep the lights on only in the rooms that you are in, you will become a more energy conscious household. You will also see a reduction in your electricty bill in the months to follow your efforts.

2. Use electricity during non-peak hours When possible, use electricty during non-peak hours. You can check in with yor service provider to get the definition as all companies set their own off-peak hours. If you can reduce your energy use during the peak hours (typically during the day), and run your larger appliances such as the dishwasher, washing machine, etc. during off peak hours (typically at night) you will see a large reduction in your energy bill. You will also be putting less pressure on the energy system as not as many people consciously use electricty during non-peak hours.

3. Shut off the water when brushing your teeth This again is a very simple and easy step. There is no need to leave the water running while you are brushing your teeth. Rinse your brush at the beginning, then turn off the water until you have finished brushing your teeth and turn the water on again to rinse off your brush. The amount of water will add up to gallons and gallons saved by the end of the month!

4. Reduce your shower time by 3 minutes-you will be surprised at the amount of water you will save! Now 3 minutes may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up. Think about the gallons of water coming out of the shower head and going right down the drain. 3 minutes less of running water saves gallons of water! This is something that is easily accomplished by using a wind up timer which you leave in the bathroom and start when you step into the shower.

5. Eliminate the use of paper towels in your house Paper towels are a big source of paper waste in many households. Instead of using paper towels consider some alternatives, such as paperless towels, old clothes or rags you have around the house, or even towels which you can wash and reuse time and time again. Not only will this cut down on your paper use it will also save money!

6. Reusable bags! Use them every time you go shopping Reusable bags have to be one of the easiest way to cut down on your waste. The average family goes grocery shopping at least once a week. Think about all of the plastic and paper you would eliminate by taking your own bags to the store instead of using the paper and plastic bags which will only be thrown away when you get home. Always leave the bags in your car so that you won't forget to bring them in with you. They also have reusable produce bags now! Why use a product created by petroleum, when you can reuse a fabric bag over and over-cleaning in by a simple run through the washing machine.

7. Turn down the heat by 3 degrees in the winter and the air conditioner up 3 degrees in the summer This is one similiar to the shower, and you may think how much of a difference will 3 degrees make-again you will be surprised! Try it out for a few months and then compare your utility bills to last year during the same months and you should see the savings. For the 3 degrees it is easy to dress a bit warmer (or cooler in the summer). In the winter this may mean having a sweatshirt on in the house instead of just a long sleeve shirt. An easy sacrfice to cut down on your energy use and save money!

8. Buy local-road side stands, farmers markets, farms etc during the months that they are open Now this part of your resolution may have to wait for warmer weather, but it is something to consider now. Maybe you want to think about joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where for a set price you can receive fresh fruits and vegetables (some even offer meats, flowers, eggs, etc) that you would pick up once a week. Or maybe a better approach for you in to find out when your local farm stands will be running and make it a point to go once a week to pick up everything you will need. Not only will you sometimes find better prices, but the food is fresher and grown locally. You will be supporting some of the local farmers instead of a farmer 1/2 way across the country, where the fruit and vegetables have been covered with pollution and dirt from their travels in the back of a truck to you.

9. Check your house for drafts especially around doors and windows Not only can you get tax credits for some of these improvements, you will see a decrease in your heating bill/cooling bill every month. Every place there is a draft in your house, whether it be from a door or window, there is cold or hot air coming into you house depending on the season. Not to mention the spiders and other small insects which may squeeze themselves through these gaps. The best way to check this is to feel around the doors and windows, especially on a windy day and see if you can feel air coming through. If so, you may want to consider chaulking the windows and replacing the weatherstripping around your doors.

10. Grow your own spices in the warmer months In the spring and summer months we get spoiled by using fresh spices. Whether you buy them at the farmer's market or you grow them at home. Carry this through the winter by growing your own spices indoors. This may seem like a challenge to some but how much space do a few pots need? And it is definitely worth it to have fresh spices!


Verdant Green said...

All great green tips that you can't repeat often enough!

Jennifer said...

These all really are easy changes. Although I'm having trouble convincing my husband that the kids will be ok if I lower the termostat at night :) Check out a similar post I wrote over at about small changes I plan to make this year.
Jennifer, Partner