It’s easy to think about all the big changes you’re going to make in the New Year as the old year comes to an end – but by the second week of January, most of us are already finding reasons to skip the gym or break the spending freeze. That’s why we’ve come up with nine green New Years resolutions so easy you’ll have no excuses not to keep them – and as they help you save money, cut your carbon footprint, decrease your homes waste stream and improve the quality of the earth, you’ll be glad you did!
1 Never buy bottled water again
Trade your bottled water habit for an at-home filtering system and you can help make a dent in the 1.5 million barrels of oil used to make plastic water bottles every year. Pair it with a re-usable bottle (one made with glass, aluminium, or re-cycled plastic) and you’ll always be prepared to tackle your thirst. Bonus: With bottled water no longer on your shopping list, you could save thousands in the New Year.
2 Brew your own “fair trade” coffee.
Carrying your own coffee in an insulated travel mug helps you reduce waste from cardboard cups and carrying sleeves – which are thrown away at a staggering rate of 58 billion each year. For greener at-home brewing, choose a blend that supports farmers; add organic milk instead of artificial creamers and try a plunger to save on electricity.
3 Remember your re-usable bags
With more than 1 million plastic bags ending up in the trash every minute, taking re-usable bags to the store is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint, but the hardest part is remembering to take them with you.
4 Cut back on paper towels
If you’re grabbing a paper towel for everything from wiping up spills and cleaning your counter to scrubbing the bathroom and keeping your hands clean at dinner, its time to make a change. Instead, invest in a few cotton cloths and some fabric napkins; then drop them in the wash when you do a load of laundry. Using the cloth alternative is just as easy as using the paper versions and you only need to buy them once – plus you can help eliminate the 3000 tons of paper towels that end up in landfills every day.
5 Use a bike for short trips
It takes a certain amount of dedication to permanently give up a car in favour of a bike, but even an eco-slacker can make it work for short trips that don’t require hauling a lot of stuff: picking up milk at the local store, after-dinner ice cream at your favourite dessert spot, your morning yoga class, brunch with friends at the coffee shop. Ride your bike for trips shorter than 5km and you could cut your carbon footprint significantly, save money on petrol and car maintenance and increase your fitness level – all at the same time.
6 Become a weekend vegetarian
Cutting meat out of your diet just two days a week can decrease your carbon footprint by about 1/3 of a ton – and coming up with meat free meals for Saturday and Sunday isn’t as hard as it sounds. Try pancakes and fruit for breakfast; fresh salads or roasted vegetable sandwiches for lunch and veggie pizza, pastas, soups and creamy risottos for diner. And since doubling a recipe rarely adds any time to your prep work, you can make extras to eat throughout the week (and trim your carbon footprint even more).
7 Eliminate “phantom” power.
It takes approximately one second to unplug the charger from your cell phone, mp3 player or ipad – but if you really cant be bothered, then let nifty, energy-efficient gadgets do the work for you. Use power strips to turn off all your appliances at once; put your television, DVD player, game system and stereo on a timer so they automatically shut off overnight and invest in chargers that stop drawing current when your device is charged. You could cut your energy bill by 10 percent annually.
8 Switch to green power.
Switching your home to run on green power sounds like a big job – installing solar panels, geothermal energy, or a tank less hot water heater is not a job for the construction impaired. But you can also make this happen without getting out of your chair. Call your local electricity store or company and see if they offer re-newable options. (most do). You might see a small jump in your bill, but its an easy way to make a big change.
9 Replace your light bulbs.
Replacing your light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights may be the ultimate change for the eco-slacker. Despite all the jokes, it takes only one person to change the bulb and since CFLs last longer than traditional bulbs (which is now illegal in SA) , you’ll be saving time for years down the road while cutting your energy use by as much as 80 percent. Can’t even face the hardware store? Order your bulbs online and have them come straight to your door!
This handy and informative article was sourced at Mother Nature Network (@MotherNatureNet) ……. our favourite place for all earth related topics!