Happy New Year! In the beginning of every year, most of us take a few moments to think about our lives and consider the goals we would like to accomplish, and then set resolutions. While it seems that a great many of those resolutions involve things like losing weight and making money, wouldn’t it be great if we all decided to live a little greener in 2011?
Think about the impact we could make if everyone embraced just one small change, such as replacing all their incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent ones. This little switch can save five times the energy and each bulb can last up to ten times as long. If every U.S. household replaced just one regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, it would prevent 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, the equivalent of taking 7.5 million cars off the road.
How about recycling? Did you know that if you recycle just half of your household waste, you can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,400 pounds annually? If we would all make recycling a habit, this small change would make an enormous difference in slowing global warming.
Why not support eco-friendly farmers by adding organic foods to your diet? Organic foods come from sources that are not given antibiotics, hormones or conventional toxic pesticides and have not been genetically engineered. Pesticides and other toxins added to food sources have been found to increase the risk of infertility, cancer and nervous system disorders.
Try using man powered or mass transportation more often. Save energy, money and stress by riding buses, trains or subway systems.
Installing, setting, and maintaining a programmable thermostat can save the average American household $180 per year, which is eco-equivalent of living without power for over 2 months every year.
Why not replace your bottled water with refillable water bottles? If you don't like the taste of tap water, try a carbon based tap water filter. Plastic does not decompose, so every bottle ever created is still somewhere on earth. Bottled waters also hit hard at the wallet, averaging at $1.27 per gallon, while tap water with a carbon filter attachment is as cheap as $0.15 per gallon.
How about starting a compost pile? Compost systems reduce household and yard waste. Compost can be mixed with soil to nutrify and fertilize stagnant soils. Anything that grows in the yard can be added to compost piles. Breads, coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit, shredded paper, tea leaves, vegetables, and wood chips can all be added to the pile. Just keep a small container for compost-ables in the kitchen and in a few months enjoy the benefits of natural soil enrichment.
Carrying and using reusable shopping bags can also make a difference in our environment. Most stores now carry reusable bags for $2 or less. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the United States each year.
Green your laundry by using biodegradable detergents. Wash only full loads, always use cold water and if possible, upgrade to a high efficiency washer. High efficiency washers use half the water, energy and detergent of standard washers. If you have trouble getting those stains out with cold water, boost your detergents power with 1 teaspoon of washing soda (not the same as baking soda) found in the laundry aisle.
Try greening your cleaning products. Stop buying those aerosol cans of chemicals and disposable toxic wipes! Use non-toxic naturally occurring baking soda or vinegar and micro-fiber cloths. Consumers are discovering more and more that good old baking soda and white vinegar will do many household cleaning jobs very well and are better for the earth too. Trying more natural cleaning methods and using more elbow grease can save money and maybe even help you burn more calories while cleaning.
Organizing yourself and putting in the effort of getting organized can help reduce stress levels long term by requiring less last-minute scrambling in a variety of situations. Educating yourself on environmental issues and the steps that you can take to live a greener life will not only improve the health of you and your family, but will help save the environment too.
This year, make a commitment to becoming healthy and “green.” Every little step we take towards going green can make a difference!