Live Green and Earn Points


5 Really Easy Resolutions

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Forget about losing weight or learning a new language. This year, dedicate your new year's resolutions to things that will help the environment and you.
Originally Published: 12/30/09

I've long given up on the classic New Year's resolutions that include cliché things like losing weight and becoming more organized. I start out strong but by February, I'm already sneaking extra cookies out of the kitchen and cringing at the out-of-control nature of my junk drawer.

But I still think resolutions are a great idea — they offer you the opportunity to step back and take stock of your life, and to consider the person or lifestyle you aspire to. So in recent years, my resolutions often take a more altruistic form, thinking about changes I can make in my life that will help not only myself, but will also have a more far-reaching benefit, like helping the planet.

So join me and dedicate your New Year's Resolutions toward actions that save money and resources. Here are some of my goals for this year:

Shop More Responsibly

This year, I vow to organize my time so that I have the time shop at food stores that carry more environmentally friendly choices. The natural foods store might not be as close or as convenient as my supermarket a few miles away, but if I plan ahead, I can make sure to stock up on organic, natural and bulk foods that are better for my family and better for the environment.

Reuse Before Recycling

Recycling is great, but even better for the environment is reusing containers rather than pitching them in the recycling bin. I aim to pack my daughter's lunch in reusable plastic containers, rather than using plastic wrap and aluminum foil that gets thrown away. And, I'll find other uses for the plastic tubs, cardboard boxes and other empty containers that traditionally find their way to the trash.

Eat Less Meat

By now you've probably heard of the Meatless Monday campaign, which aims to reduce Americans' consumption of meat by 15 percent, both for people's personal health and the health of the planet. Indeed, meat can contribute to obesity and heart problems because of the amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol it contains. And eating less meat can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and dependence on fossil fuels. So on Mondays, I plan to prepare hearty, nourishing meals using beans, whole grains, tofu, mushrooms and vegetables. And when I do buy meat, I'm going to skip the factory-farmed variety and opt for animals that have been raised humanely, fed a nourishing diet, and have been allowed to roam.

Walk More, Drive Less

This is a goal that most of us should aspire to for both personal financial and environmental reasons. I know that since I left New York City to live in Atlanta, the amount I walked decreased dramatically, particularly since there aren't too many businesses that are within walking distance of my home. Plus, with a 3-year-old in tow, hopping into the car is so much more convenient, even for short jaunts. But I'm resolving to patronize the handful of restaurants that are within walking distance, and to allow more time so I can walk my daughter the short distance to her preschool. I know this will benefit my health, but I'll also be glad to reduce my carbon footprint and to have to fill up my gas tank less frequently.

Give Items Longer Life

Recently I helped organize a neighborhood children's party, and afterwards we had several bottles of cider, a couple boxes of cereal and a big bag filled with the unsold goodies from our bake sale. I was in charge of donating everything to a local shelter, which was surprisingly easy. In fact I got so much satisfaction from improving others' day that I now plan to purge all my unused kitchen equipment and donate it as well. Passing along housewares and cookware for someone else to use is so much more responsible than throwing it out or recycling it, and you're even helping out people who might not be able to buy brand-new things for their home.

What are your own resolutions for the new year? Share your goals below!

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • Kristal D. 3 years ago
    -More exercises
    -Go have more fun
    -Go to church more
  • david s. 3 years ago
    I like what one lady suggested... compelling others that recycling is the right thing to do for the environment even if it is one person at a time.
  • Alison S. 3 years ago
    we already recycle alot but to see how much more we can recycle and also to part out appliances that don't work and sell the items on ebay.
  • Gene Y. 3 years ago
    I am going to attempt to re-double all of my recycling efforts, my energy conservation efforts and my environmental efforts.
  • Kelsey W. 3 years ago
    I want to recycle as much as possible and buy less packaged foods!
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