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The List: 7 Achievable Green Resolutions For This Year

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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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  • Mary W. 1 day ago
    I wet my hair down, soap it and rinse it. Then, wet the wash cloth - turn OFF the shower, do my business, turn the shower back on and rinse off. My motivation here is not regarding conservation of water/the environment, BUT, conservation of my MONEY! I between the electric to heat the water and going on to city water - they increase the usage fee every year per unit. So, my usage drops as well as my bills :)
  • Patricia S. 3 days ago
    I started events in my neighborhood when I moved in two years ago. I noticed the amount of paper products, plastic utensils and etc. not only took up our volunteer fund but also was so wasteful. This year I purchased washable cloth tablecloths and dishes that look like paper but are re-usable and dishwasher safe. I will be looking for used utensils at our Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity store. With our 70 - 100 attendees this can save us money and help us be greener. Pat
  • Debra T. 3 days ago
    I use a Brita water filter and refill my water bottles, because they are easier for transport. Have already switched all light bulbs in the house. Always (well, almost always) have reusable bags in my car. Donated to Arbor Day Foundation, and so far I have planted 15 trees ....somewhere.
  • Patty M. 3 days ago
    My husband takes leftovers every night for his lunch. I pack them in reusable containers. I also make sure I have re-useable bags in my car when I go grocery shopping.
  • Duane W. 5 days ago
    I like resolution #3 - I do this all the time. If more people did this it would help clean up your local neighborhood and keep waste out of streams and rivers.
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