New Year’s Resolutions – 10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Make a Difference in 2011

Posted by — December 29, 2010 11:54 pm

The other day, we gave out some tips on how to reduce and reuse holiday waste. Today, here are some resolutions that we believe are worth making, and keeping! Here’s our challenge to you:  Pick at least one idea which you are not already practicing and implement the resolution into your daily life!

Photo by Flickr User: Amber Karnes

1) Reduce Your Garbage OutputStart a Compost Pile. This is a great way to reduce your garbage bill (you can switch to smaller cans, and/or less frequent pick-ups) by disposing of your degradable garbage – fruit, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, lawn and garden trimming, etc. Your back will also thank you when you don’t have to tote those 50 pound bags of fertilizer from the home improvement store – you’ve made your own from your compost pile!

2) Save money by making some eco-friendly laundry detergent: 1 cup shaved castile soap, 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda. Use 1 teaspoon, and your clothes smell fresh right out of the laundry. It takes 10 minutes to make and won’t have the chemicals that commercial detergent has. Remember, when your washer rinses your clothing, whatever detergent you’re using is going into the rest of the runoff which most of the time ends up in the ocean.

3) Eliminate Your Single-Use Habit. Make a commitment to dramatically reduce your consumption of single use bags. While we prefer ChicoBag™ brand reusable bags as the way-to-go for reusable bags, we also recommend the tried and true T-shirt bags. Visit Instructables.com on how to turn your old t-shirt into a functional and personalized, reusable bag.

4) Resolve to get out of your car one day a week. If you live in an area with a mass transit system (bus, commuter train), resolve to take public transportation one day a week. If public transit is not an option, try working out a carpool arrangement with some neighbors or co-workers. This news flash just in from the American Public Transportation Association: “Public transportation use saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline each year, and can reduce household expenses by $6,200.” Let’s go green AND save money!

5) Eat Local. So, you’re reducing your time in the car and reducing your carbon footprint in a myriad of ways. The next time you’re due for a meal, remember that your food ALSO has a carbon footprint. How many miles does your food need to travel before it gets to your grocery shelf? How many chemicals are used? How much fuel must have been used in the manufacturing of that box of Lucky Charms? On your next shopping expedition, think about buying local produce and other locally produced, seasonal foods. Again, this is a great “green” way to think about your food supply, as well as a wonderful way to support your local economy.

6) Remember the “OFF” Switch. That’s right, turn your electronics off when you’re not using them! Easiest way to accomplish this? Simply invest in one or more power strips. Plug your cell phone charger, computer cords, DVD/TIVO Recorders into the power strip, and then you only have one switch to flip. Save electrical energy as well as your own!

7) Donate, Donate, Donate. In these difficult times, you need not look far to find people who are doing without. Who among us does not have some gently used clothing that just wasn’t our style and sits, unused, in our closet or dresser drawer? Give it away! Just got a great new laptop for the holidays? Donate your old computer to a non-profit who is probably in dire need of a working computer. Do you have some other electronics that are still usable, but just not by you? Go to the EPA website to find where your old gadgets will be safely received and recycled or refurbished for an extended life. This site will also assist you in information on how to safely dispose of electronics that no longer work. Even if you are not motivated by the spirit of giving, remember that many of these donations are tax deductible!

8) Stop Using Disposable Water Bottles. We know this may seem so basic by now, but some people just don’t want to give up their plastic, one-time-use plastic water bottles. There have been so many tests by governmental agencies that bottled water just isn’t any different, and in some cases, not as good as, as tap water. In fact, many manufacturers of bottled water GET their water from the tap. Now don’t you feel a little ridiculous paying hard-earned money for bottled water, when all you need to do is buy a good re-usable container, and turn on the faucet? Check out the facts from our friends at Klean Kanteen®

9) Find A Friend or Family Member Who Is In The Dark. No, we don’t mean that in a literal sense. Share some of your eco-resolutions with at least one other person. If you know someone who likes to sew, introduce them to the t-shirt re-usable bags. If you know someone who starts planning their spring garden in January (or before), help them start a compost pile. Ask your neighbor to share mass transit with you for one day, “Just for the heck of it.”

10) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. While some of us are further along in our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint than others, we can all benefit from the “3 Rs” mantra. Remember that these three words are comparative, meaning you can cut back from where you are NOW. If you’re an uber-consumer, start out by shopping just a little differently (by reducing your dependence on plastic water bottles, for example). Truly, everyone is capable of being kinder to this planet we call home.

These are just a few ideas of how to live in 2011 and beyond. We would love to hear from you – what are your resolutions for 2011?

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