Ah, New Year’s resolutions… it’s easy to think about all the big changes you plan to make, but most of us give up on our big plans by the time February rolls around. The key to making resolutions you can stick to is to make them easy and achievable. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 13 easy resolutions for a clean, green 2013.
- Give up the coffee shop
Instead, brew your own fair trade java and carry it in an insulated, reusable cup. You’ll reduce your spending, plus make a big dent in the number of disposable cups thrown away (a staggering 58 billion each year).
- Lose the bottled water habit
Get a reusable, refillable bottle and a home filter system. The bottled water industry goes through 1.5 million barrels of oil each year just to make plastic water bottles.
- Brown bag it
At least one day each week, pack your own lunch in a reusable bag. You’ll be saving money, and reducing the waste of all those disposable containers that lunches on the go usually come in.
- Cut back on paper towels
Notice we didn’t say “give up” because that’s a big, tough step for some folks. Make sure you’ve got plenty of handy tea towels, cotton bar mops and cloth napkins, and you’ll quickly cut your paper towel usage in half. Plus you’ll be eliminating part of the 3,000 tons of paper towels that go to landfills every day.
- Clean green
Make a simple swap out for eco-friendly cleaning products. Your home will be healthier (and just as clean), and you’ll be doing the planet a big favor.
- Buy into the local CSA
We love the farmer’s market, but if one isn’t close or convenient, all the resolutions to shop local go right out the window with sleeping in on Sundays. Check out your local CSA program instead and you’ll get a carefully selected box of in season produce. What a deal!
- Remember the reusables, really
The numbers for plastic bags are the stuff of horror movies, make it a habit to always carry reusable bags with you. Buy extras and store them in your trunk, at your office desk, in your bag or briefcase. Then make a promise to always use them.
- Bike it
Changing to bike commuting? Great! But if that sounds like too big of a task, bite off a smaller chunk and commit to using your bike for shorter trips. Anything less than 2 miles should be a snap and will significantly cut your carbon footprint!
- Become a vampire slayer
Make sure you’ve got everything you can plugged into power strips, then turn them all off when they’re not needed. Plug in your chargers, the TV, game system, DVD player, stereo, the works. Anything that has a plug and doesn’t need to be constantly running (like a refrigerator) can be unplugged, or switched off with a power strip. You can save as much as 10% on your energy bill every year, all with the flip of a switch.
- Take a weekend off meat
Take two days a week and go vegetarian. You’ll decrease your carbon footprint by a whopping 33%. It’s surprisingly easy, and you can double your efforts and freeze the results for easy meat-free meals the next week.
- Power up with green
Look into ways to switch to green power. And no, it doesn’t mean you have to install solar panels and tankless water heaters, though those things are nice. Just call your local energy company and ask about their green alternatives. You might just be surprised.
- Go solar
OK, we just said we don’t mean installing solar panels, and we don’t. We’re talking about simple, easy, portable outdoor lighting. Light up your nights with solar-powered lanterns.
- Ditch the incandescents
Once and for all, give up the incandescents. Search out any lightbulbs you haven’t replaced and swap them out for CFLs or LEDs. And if you’ve got aging CFLs, consider upgrading to an LED instead. Don’t want to face that big-box home improvement store? Order online. Really. It’s that easy.