Now that you have made your New Year’s resolutions to improve your health, fitness, finances, and attitude, here’s an easy one you may actually be able to stick with: resolve to go more green in 2013. No, you don’t have to go completely green, just more green—and you will find that much easier to do than losing ten pounds.
At the end of this post I am including links to several articles with lengthy lists of things to do to be more green. What I will try to accomplish first is to convince you that you should make the effort and to give a few personal suggestions that work for me. I will leave it to the links to experts to overwhelm you with facts and figures about the easiest, most effective, and most popular go-green tactics.
Why should you make the effort? Not only is it the right thing to do, but you also save money and live longer. Here’s a brief overview of how it works: 1) Little steps like wasting less water and food save you money right now. 2) Other little steps like recycling save you money in the not too distant future when your taxes don’t go up to buy new landfill space or expand water treatment plant capacity. 3) Those little steps add up to big changes by reducing water, soil, and air pollution, which saves you more money by reducing your sick days off from work and your medical costs. 4) You live longer because you aren’t afflicted with as many environmental pathogens or by the potentially lethal doses of germs readily shared by others when you have to visit a doctor or a hospital.
If you are an idealist and want to use idealism as a fifth motivator, good for you! Most mere mortals are better motivated by financial and health concerns.
With the why-you-should-try-it-bit out of the way, here's a short list of green tactics that have proven easiest and most effective for me, and may work for you as well.
- Recycle: Many communities do a recyclables pickup separate from their trash run. It is no more difficult to put out recyclables in a separate container than it is to carry out an extra bag of trash. Just do it. If you live in the hinterlands as I do, and have to haul your own trash and recycling to a local pickup site, it is likewise no more difficult to carry a box or two of recyclables than it is to haul an extra bag or two of trash.
- Opt for a natural lawn: Ditch the gas-powered lawn mower, forget the green lawn of invasive grass species that are kept alive only by use of copious amounts of water and chemicals, and compost your leaves on-site instead of shipping them across town. Doing this saves your water bill, curtails pollution run-off, and saves landfill space. I covered these topics in depth in previous Green 101 columns. In the interest of brevity, here I will refer you to those posts for more details: "Preparing your lawn for winter" and "Going green with brown leaves."
- Use less water inside: Do you really need to leave the water running full blast while you brush your teeth? For that matter, do you really need to flush after every use? And if you hang up a pair of jeans or slacks after wearing them just one time, instead of throwing them on the floor, do you really need to launder them before wearing a second time? Have you ever thought about how much of your laundry could be done in cold water, instead of warm?
- Revamp your diet: Eat local and eat lower on the food chain as much as possible. If logic isn’t enough to convince you, then any number of studies and news reports will vouch that shipping food wastes a lot of energy. As does raising vegetables and grains to feed animals for us to eat, when we could just be eating the vegetables and grains themselves. I’m not going to argue health advantages and disadvantages of a vegan or vegetarian diet, but I will say I’ve lived the last 20 years without eating animal products and they have been the healthiest years of my life. I’m 58 years old, haven’t been to a doctor in 18 years, take no medications, keep up with a two decades younger wife, and each year I do at least 35,000 pushups and run more than 800 miles. I’m not saying this proves a vegan diet is healthier, but it does prove you can live healthily without animal products. It isn’t as easy as recycling or saving water, but might you at least ponder it? Or maybe just try it a day a week as part of your 2013 resolutions?
- "You Can Go Green," you-can-go-green.com, January 1
- "Inhabitat New Year's Resolutions for 2013!," by Diane Pham, inhabitat.com, January 1
- "Green New Year's Resolutions 2013: Eco-Friendly Goals For The New Year," Huffington Post, December 31
Copyright © 2013 by motomynd