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The List: 7 Achievable Green Resolutions For This Year 5

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Make a difference, a little at a time, with these totally realistic green resolutions.

My Januarys are filled with the best of intentions, but I’ve found that the surest way to not give up on my New Year’s Resolutions is to start small. Those tiny steps add up over the year, and by February or March, when my more ambitious friends have given up on their weight-loss goals and their plans to get organized, my own resolutions are still manageable.

We’re a few days into the new year, but it’s not too late to set some intentions for a more sustainable year. If you’re looking for some easy things you can do this year to treat the environment better, here are some ideas for you.

1. Shave a minute off your shower. The average shower uses about 2.1 gallons of water per minute, so by speeding up your shower routine you can save thousands of gallons over the course of the year, especially if the whole family commits.

2. Pack your school/work lunch once a week. Bringing lunch from home — in reusable containers, of course — will not only save you money and likely be more nutritious, but you’ll also cut down on all that packaging that take-out lunches create. What’s more, you’ll be more likely to use up leftovers in your fridge before they go bad. On the days that you do indulge in your favorite fast food, make sure to opt out of those disposables.

3. Bring a bag on your walks. Keeping a plastic bag tucked into the pocket of the jacket you wear when you walk or hike means you’ll have a way to gather stray litter as you walk. You’ll help clean up your community, and all that bending over to pick up trash will boost your workout!

4. Install smart lighting. A system like Philips Hue lighting can save significantly in energy (a calculator can estimate just how much energy different types of bulbs consume, so you can compare for yourself). Not only are these bulbs themselves more energy efficient (they recently got the coveted ENERGY STAR certification), but being able to turn them on and off from an app, even when you’re not at home, means you have more control over their use. The initial system is pricey, but even installing a few bulbs in your most-used light fixtures can help conserve energy immediately with little effort on your part.

5. Dispose of disposables. Give away your rolls of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, boxes of plastic baggies, paper forks and plastic utensils, or at least stash them out of reach in a high cupboard. Instead, focus on using only reusable food containers and dinnerware. You’ll be surprised how quickly you learn to live without these conveniences — and that’s a good thing, since plastic wrap is not recyclable, and recycling aluminum foil is difficult.

6. Switch to cans. With many municipalities no longer accepting glass, and plastic having a limited recycling life, choosing aluminum cans for your beer, soda, and even wine, is a smart option. Aluminum is easier to recycle than these other materials and can be done so endlessly.

7. Keep reusable bags in your purse or car. You’re probably already using reusable bags at the supermarket whenever you can, but if you’re like me, there are plenty of times that you’ve forgotten them and have to use the dreaded plastic or paper bags the store provides. Resolve to make the habit to always have one or two reusable bags in your purse, and to keep the rest of them in your car, and you’ll never be without one again. Luckily, there are plenty of bags that roll up so tiny they won’t take up much space — some even come on a keychain if you don’t carry a purse or bag everywhere.

Committing to any one of these small moves this year will add up by saving energy and reducing waste — here’s to a more sustainable 2018!

What are your green resolutions for the year? Share your intentions in the comments 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.

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  • Leila F. 2 months ago
    I’m getting inconsistent advice here between glass and aluminum. I lean toward aluminum because it doesn’t risk breaking but I think last week you were telling me choosing glass is better.
    • BenD@Recyclebank 2 months ago

      Hi Leila, 

      There are benefits and drawbacks to both glass and aluminum, and situations in which one will be a better choice than the other (and vice versa). Our goal is to provide information that will help people make informed decisions based on their circumstances. So, it depends a lot on context, and what your priorities are, whether to choose glass or aluminum.

  • Darlene B. 2 months ago
    I always have leftovers when I eat out, have always thought about taking a collapsible container with me rather than using the styrofoam ones the restaurant has.
  • lisa t. 3 months ago
    Plug your shower to see just how much H2O you're using. It'll stick in your mind next time. Plus, you can use that water to flush toilets or scrub the car, a task on which I wouldn't waste fresh water. Haven't touched plastic wrap in years...didn't even think it was still on shelves. I reuse cereal bags when I'm rolling out dough on the counter. Always carry one more cloth bag than I think I'll need...
  • Barbara W. 3 months ago
    The shower is the hardest one for me. The water fluctuates from cold to hot,.. to cold soooo quickly.
  • Geff M. 3 months ago
    RE #1 resolution above (shower) - i have 5-6 adjustable settings on the nozzle so i turned the water pressure to appropriate level on 1st setting & tested the pressure on each of the other settings. All the pressure settings were about equal until the last adjustment on nozzle where the water was blasting out. I set the appropriate spray volume for the last setting & ran it thru the preceding adjustments again & all the other adjustments were just trickling water... certain i am saving a minimum of 33% water use. In L.A. new construction & sales of ANY homes must be equipped w/energy efficient shower (shut off) nozzles... i mean, why must water be running when ur shampooing/soaping up???
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