Green New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve been working upon and considering some of the things that I might do to lessen my environmental impact upon the Earth and others, and thought that it might be worth sharing those here.

I’ve written them in the form of New Year’s resolutions that people could follow, but we don’t have to wait until the new year to start doing what we can to benefit the environment.

There are many steps that we can take to help us live in a greener, and more environmentally friendly world which can also help us save money and energy, be healthier, benefit local economies, and help others in our communities. Starting to be informed on environmental issues is a good beginning. Taking actions like the ones that I’ve listed can have a big impact if many people get involved.

1. Stop using plastic bags from where you shop. I’ve been carrying environmentally friendly reusable shopping bags in my car, and I need to start remembering to carry them with me into the grocery stores.

2. Cut back on your car usage – walk or bike more, consolidate trips and errands so that you can drive less, and investigate telecommuting and public transportation opportunities – even carpooling or taking public transportation one day a week can make a difference.

3. Drive smarter to help reduce the amount of fuel that you use when you do drive. Proper maintenance on your car can make driving safe, use less fuel, and make your car last longer.

4. Replace old appliances with more energy efficient ones, including Energy Star certified appliances

5. Buy locally grown and organic produce – look for local farmer’s markets and stands, organic sections in your grocery store, locally grown produce signs and labels, and natural food and coop stores in your area. You’ll eat healthier, and less transportation costs are involved in bringing locally grown food to your table – plus you’ll benefit your local economy with food choices from local growers.

6. Recycle – learn about local recycling programs, and encourage their use in your community. You can find local recycling centers in the United States at Earth911.com

7. Donate unused and reusable items to your local thrift shops or other places that can use them. Reduce clutter in your home, and give others the chance to use those clothes that no longer fit you, those toys your children no longer play with, those strollers and cribs that you no longer need, those books that you’ve read and won’t look at again, and many other items around your house that you may have stored away and won’t use again.

8. Get informed about, and use recycled paper products for your home and for your office.

9. Use green and non-toxic cleaners for your house, your clothes, and your car.

10. Learn about and participate in community conservation and cleanup projects

11. Adopt a park or outdoor place to keep clean.

12. Start a garden, and learn how to compost

13. Insulate your home hot water heater – save money and energy

14. Fix leaky water fixtures and investigate low flow toilets and showerheads

15. Replace oil heater filters as recommended, seal and insulate ductwork in unheated basements and other areas, and have your heating system checked once a year. It will take less energy to heat your home, and the internal environment of your home will be safer and cleaner.

16. Replace water system filters in your home as recommended. The water pressure in your home will be stronger, and the water you drink will be safer.

17. Replace light bulbs with more energy efficient and longer lasting bulbs such as compact fluorescent light bulbs or LED light bulbs.

18. Stop receiving junk mail using a free service like Catalog Choice, and paid services such as Tonic Precycle or 41pounds.org

19. Use less water. You can do things like take shorter showers, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, and watch how much water you use when washing dishes, but you might want to measure your water footprint first. And read this CNN article on Measuring your water footprint to learn why this is so important.

20. Conduct a home energy audit.

21. Calculate your Carbon footprint.

22. Unplug or use power strips that can be turned off for appliances and electronic devices such as computers, chargers, printers, televisions, cable set top boxes, microwave ovens, and coffee makers, to avoid energy vampires

23. Learn about local, regional, national, and global environmental issues, and participate through donations, advocacy, volunteer efforts, and employment.

Any others that you would suggest?

Share

35 thoughts on “Green New Year’s Resolutions”

  1. Great post, Bill. Good to see people stepping up and being counted on this very important issue.

    Here’s a few to add to the list:

    1. start with a tough one – reduce meat consumption. Vegetarian is better, vegan is best – but that’s tough for anyone to achieve after years of enjoying steak and bacon. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/07/food.foodanddrink

    2. get a good rucksack – mine has been indispensable since I sold the car

    3. cut down on cotton consumption and buy organic if possible – http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2008/06/freds-footprint-what-price-cotton.html

    4. here’s a big list to finish – http://www.globalstewards.org/ecotips.htm

    All the best.

  2. Hi David,

    Thank you very much.

    I’ve been trying to do as many of the things I’ve listed as I can over the past year. I really appreciate your additions. The big list from globalstewards.org is a really nice one. It deserves to be seen by a lot of people.

    I agree with the guardian article on this one, though I think it’s possible to have more than one meat free meal a week, and still make it feel like it isn’t a sacrifice in any way:

    People should have one meat-free day a week if they want to make a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change

    I wonder how many people are aware of the environmental impact that cotton crops have. Some alternatives such as bamboo, flax, and industrial hemp are ones that seem to be something we should consider more carefully. Here are a few resources I found associated with those:

    American Bamboo Society
    Hemp Industries Association
    North American Industrial Hemp Council
    Flax Council of Canada

    Thanks again, David

  3. Hi Bill,

    Yes, it’s not at all difficult to go meat-free two or three times a week. I look forward to my veggie stir-frys. :)

    Part of the problem with this whole ‘tree hugging’ thing is the daunting amount of things we take for granted – like cotton – that aren’t doing our environment or the planet any favours. I guess it’s just a case of ‘eating the elephant in small chunks’ (inappropriate analogy!) and gradually shifting our consumption to something more sustainable.

    Thanks for the links – I’ll go through those shortly.

    Cheers and merry [whatever celebration you have this time of year]. :)

    David.

    P.S. I should really comment on your SEO articles – I read most of them.

  4. Thanks, David.

    I like experimenting with different salads and pasta dishes as well.

    We do take a lot of granted that we probably shouldn’t, but as I mentioned above, if enough people make small changes, the impacts can be very large.

    I do wish that some of those sites I linked to above on bamboo, hemp, and flax wrote for more of a consumer-based audience, to educate and inform the public. I think they would be happy that they did.

    I hope your holidays are good ones, too.

    I do hope to see you commenting here. That would be great. Thanks again.

    Bill

  5. What I find humorous is website design and or SEO companies that call themselves green. We have several in my community that do this.

    They say that they are Green because they recycle and like to ride bikes. While these are good things, it is a bit much to build a green marketing campaign around.

    While I was formerly an owner of an organic plant nursery I would not consider my business green even thought we use grey water on our outdoor plants.

  6. I wouldn’t agree with cutting down car usage. CO2 produced by cars is less than 5% of overall carbon dioxide production. I’d rather plant two or three trees than resign from driving.

  7. That’s a great post. If everyone would do just half of these relatively easy-to-follow recommendations, we’d have a much healthier planet.

    May I recommend committing to these resolutions with Pledgehammer. It’s a nifty tool for making and keeping such pledges. In short, if you fail to keep your pledge we ask you to donate money to a charity such as World Land Trust. So whether you keep your green resolution or not, the world will be a little bit better place.

    Disclaimer – I am one of the people behind Pledgehammer. Myself and a few like-minded friends have been working on this on our free time for quite some time and we just went live a week ago. Would be great to get feedback on it.

  8. CO2 produced by cars is less than 5% of overall carbon dioxide production.

    It’s 28% in the USA: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/

    I wouldn’t agree with cutting down car usage.

    I would respectfully suggest that you therefore do not understand the reality of anthropogenic climate change or the urgency with which it must be addressed to mitigate the damage that has already been done and will continue to be done in the coming decades.

    I recommend watching the BBC documentary, ‘Earth: The Climate Wars’ for a history and explanation of the science, as well as sobering predictions of what will happen if we do not change our consumption and management of the planet:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8547224522119252436&hl=en
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1668329593924661115&hl=en
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4809718812879164013&hl=en

    It’s also available as a torrent (I think the importance of the issue supersedes copyright issues) if you want to watch a better quality version or burn to DVD.

  9. Hi Boris,

    I’m not going to complain about actions that people are actually and actively taking to make the world greener, but I agree that it’s discouraging to see people then use those actions to market themselves.

  10. Hi Marc,

    I think it helps if we take a step back, and learn to appreciate the things that we do have, and consider how we can use them more responsibly. I’m not suggesting that people stop driving, but rather that we think about things like consolidating errands that require that we drive so that we make one trip to destinations that are near each other rather than three. Or try to use sustainable resources, or make decisions in our lives that have less impact upon the Earth and others.

    If we all start thinking about things like this more, and take some action, we can make a difference.

    Thanks, DavidONE…

    for providing resources on the impact of driving and climate change. I’m looking forward to watching the BBC videos.

    Hi Andrus,

    I like the ideas behind pledgehammer and the implementation. Nicely done. I hope to see a lot more pledges there in the future.

  11. Your recommendation to buy locally grown and organic produce is great. Many don’t recognize how many areas are affected by purchasing local produce.

    A great technology to consider is tankless water heaters. Since you’re only heating the water when you need it hot, energy is saved. Also, many are powered by electricity and don’t necessarily require fossil fuel consumption.

  12. Hi Tim,

    Thank you. Buying local can help save transportation costs, but it’s also nice to learn about your local region, and what kinds of crops that region is known for, and help your local economy.

    A tankless heater is nice because you’re only heating water when you need it. Some information about on demand water heaters on this page:

    http://www.aceee.org/consumer/water-heating

  13. I started using bio-gas for my car since last October and started planting vegetables at my backyard so this green new year is ahead in my case… One more thing recently is, I turned-off my refrigerator every night.. :)

  14. Thank you, Jun.

    Using Bio-gas in your car sounds like a good idea. I understand that not every car can use bio-gas, and that they ones that can might need some special modifications before they can.

    A garden sounds like a great idea as well.

    Not to sure about turning the refrigerator off every night though. :)

  15. All very great ways people can go green this year. I think an overlooked one is buying locally food. It doesn’t seem green on the surface, but is an important aspect to getting fresher foods and reducing carbon emissions.

  16. Hi pays to live green,

    It’s not really easy to see the connection between locally grown and produced food and the impact that shipping and preserving it over a period of time might have, and I think that it often does get overlooked.

    I really like initiatives like this one from the Piedmont Environmental Council, which urges people to buy locally in Virginia:

    http://www.buylocalvirginia.org/index.cfm/1,5,0,0,html/Local-Chapters

    They mention on one of the pages of their site that food can travel on average 1500-2500 miles from where it is farmed to your kitchen table, and might spend between 7 to 14 days in transit before arriving at a supermarket. Not sure where they got the stats, but they aren’t difficult to believe.

  17. This is great list of idea’s that we can all do to lessen our impact on the environment. I’ve found that cutting down on your driving whenever possible is a great idea to not only save you money but also reduce your impact on the environment.

  18. Hi Taylor,

    Thanks. Yes, I think that changes like driving less, and a number of the others I mentioned can not only help the environment, but are also smart from an economic standpoint.

    As I’ve said above, if lots of people can adopt some of these small changes, it can have a big impact (and if enough people can adopt a lot of these changes, it can make a significant impact). I’m hoping that many of these are resolutions that people can keep, and that doing so might lead them to influence others. :)

  19. Thanks for the great (resolutions) tips, very comprehensive and actionable for most of us. One area I want to focus more on is the home energy audit. If you don’t mind I’ll contribute some additional home energy saving tips.

  20. Thank you.

    If everyone made just one small positive change in the way that they used or conserved energy, the overall impact would be tremendous. It’s been a while since I’ve posted an environmental post; hopefully I can come up with some more actionable tips and ideas for another soon.

  21. You can also check how green products are by using JumpGauge.com – it will show you visually what’s green about a product through the interactive labeleling system.

  22. Thanks, Stas

    Looks like an interesting idea. A reliable and informative labeling system that consumers can depend upon can make a difference. It seems like a lot of businesses are making environmental claims about their products without being very clear about those claims. Don’t know if you saw this study: The “Six Sins” of Greenwashing (pdf). It’s worth a read.

  23. I will also try making my own New Year’s Resolution that would help our Mother Earth.
    During marketing I am practicing using “BAYONG” it looks like a bag made from dry coconut leaves or any other.
    It can be used as an alternative storage of plastic BAGS.

  24. Hi Josephine,

    The more people thinking about and following resolutions to help make the world cleaner and greener, the better. Alternatives to taking plastic bags while shopping is a good start. Thanks.

  25. These are all great tips that can definitely cut back on our energy usage. Even just taking it one step at a time can make a difference.

  26. Great list. If everyone drove smarter that would be a great help to the world. I have even seen a number of devices that give you immediate feedback while you are driving on how to get better mileage.

  27. Hi Mouli,

    Thank you. I appreciate the development of technology like what you describe for automobiles. Devices that enable us to do home energy audits, and see how much energy each electronic device in our homes actually consumes also make us smarter about the choices we make.

  28. Excellent list. And we cane easily do all the things thats listed out there. Well i have already started many todo things listed in here. I have replaced all the bulbs in my home with CFL lights. Trust me , they are really efficient and most of the good manufacturers give minimum 1 yr warrnty with them.

    and point 22. recently my air con technician told me that its good to disconnect the plug from the power sockets, when you are not using it. Even T.V sets in standby mode consume fair amount of electrcity.

  29. Hi Aamos,

    Thank you. Those are good points. I’ve done a number of the things on the list. Still have some more to go. Hopefully I will before the next set of resolutions.

  30. i have stopped developing photographs.. now i just store the soft copies.. i save paper ..
    i wish my environmental education professor would read this :)

  31. yeah i agree with everyone using digital cameras , there is no need to develop and print your pictures. Not only it saves paper and money it saves lot of space. Same way we can switch to e-newspapers and save paper , but you dont get the same feel as you get while reading a paper copy.

  32. Boris said: “They say that they are Green because they recycle and like to ride bikes. While these are good things, it is a bit much to build a green marketing campaign around.”

    Not only that, but it sets such a low expectation in the community. When everyone goes around saying they are green for throwing a can in the blue bin, progress toward a more substantial attainment of green is stymied.

  33. Hi Travis,

    I’m for any organization taking any steps whatsoever for making the world a greener, better place, regardless of how small. I’m much less in favor of an organization making the smallest effor that they can, and using those steps to market themselves as a green company.

  34. This is an excellent article summarizing just a few things that each of us can do to go green. #9 is the key one to me. More and more hazards are discovered on a daily basis and it is simply shocking that the public (even myself) aren’t aware of some of the things we expose ourselves to. My primary occupation consists of disposing of hazardous wastes from commercial, industrial and governmental institutions. Many consumers would be shocked to find out that the conventional household cleaners they use often contain hazardous chemicals as bad if not worse than some of the wastes I remove from manufacturing and industrial facilities on a daily basis. And when you decide to switch to green cleaning solutions, remember do dispose of those household wastes responsibly. The easiest path is to contact your city and find out where you can bring household hazardous wastes for free disposal.

  35. Hi Paul.

    Thanks. Not surprising that #9 would be something that you would pick out as important considering the topic of the site that you linked to as your own.

    It is shocking when you start looking closer at the cleaners we do use around our homes. Some of them are pretty heavy duty. Thanks for the suggestions on disposing of those cleansers.

Comments are closed.