Welcome to New Years’ Eve 2009. The last day of the year, and a time to savor the idea of a fresh start for 2010. Not only is it a new year, but an entirely new decade!
One might be tempted to make really big New Years resolutions under the circumstances. But, if you want to achieve greatest success, make smaller, more manageable goals for 2010. Fortunately, if you’re resolving to go greener in 2010, you’re in great company. And, there are plenty of small changes you can make for a really big global impact!
Yesterday, we celebrated our “green achievements” in 2009. Now, we look forward and plan for an even greener year ahead. Will you join with us in making some of these resolutions?
1. Less Driving. We already consolidate trips and encourage the children to walk or bike to school. Yet, my personal goal is to drive 25 fewer miles per week. This may mean skipping a last minute dash out to the grocery store, or hopping on my bicycle to meet a friend for coffee (instead of driving the 5 miles to downtown). When its time to purchase birthday gifts, online shopping can also help me save gas.
It will be easy to keep track of the reduced driving, which will add up to over 100 miles per month, and a whopping 1200 miles next year (by the way, it will save me at least 1/2 tank of gas each month).
2. Revisit Consumerism. We have so much. Too much, really. And, although we’ve made big strides in reducing our consumption and consumerism, we can do more. Instead of buying a new book, we can visit the library more often. When the seasons change and the boots no longer fit the kids, Goodwill and consignment shops are a great way to get killer deals.
Outsmart the retailers and hit the store armed with a list and a small period of time to complete your shopping. Before you hit the checkout line, review the items in your cart and remove any “impulse” purchases. Then, invest your savings in a fun, family outing, or stash it away in an investment account for retirement or college.
3. Cut down on Trash. Sure, you are probably already recycling. Most communities encourage the practice with reduced garbage rates or other incentives. But, I’ll bet you can do more. Personally, we are working to improve our effort with respect to “precycling,” – purchasing items with less packaging (no more 100 calorie snack packs, etc).
We also aim to turn leftovers into meals more frequently, and compost food scraps to enrich our garden. The methane that is released from decomposing food scraps in landfills is an atmosphere clogging greenhouse gas. Yet, the nutrients in your leftover orange peels, coffee grounds and pizza crusts can help your garden – and we’ll all breathe easier.
4. Consider Lighting. I’m happy to say that most of the light bulbs in our home are compact florescent, instead of incandescent. Yet, I’ve heard that LED (light emitting diodes) bulbs are even greener, and last longer. Sipping only 1/5 of the energy of ordinary light bulbs, these lamps last 20 years!
Last summer, we reviewed the benefits of LED bulbs, compared to CFLs:
- Much longer life – 22 years or more for LEDs!
- As a result, low-maintenance and far less changing of light bulbs
- Double the efficiency of compact florescent bulbs
- Ability to use LEDs with dimmer switches (you can’t do that compact fluorescents)
- LEDs are mercury free, and otherwise non-toxic, allowing for easy disposal – 22 years from now!
- Ability to cut CO2 emissions significantly: 6 percent of all U.S. energy use is due to lighting
- Estimates are that we could achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity used for lighting our lives within 20 years, if we replaced all light bulbs with LEDs
Once your home is completely outfitted with LEDs, try making the switch at work or school. C’mon… I dare you to take the lead with LEDs!
5. Keep up, and Build On, Prior Green Achievements. Its no time to rest on our laurels. Sure, I feel a bit smug every time I turn the dial to “cold” on the washing machine. Yet, could I wash less frequently, as well? I am also proud each day that I pack lunches for my children, but what if I started sending cloth napkins and regular silverware too, asking them to avoid using paper and plastic? I could always recycle more and consume less.
How about a goal for improvement? I could become 15% more green next year! Could you?
Happy New Year!