Going Green in the New Year

It’s that time of year again. The holidays have come and gone, and a new year lies ahead. It’s a time for reminiscing, for embracing old traditions and establishing new ones. Hence the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.

Whatever promises we make each year, more often than not, these resolutions relate to how we plan to make life better for ourselves. This year, we should also resolve to make life better for each other, to make the world a better place to live in and be a part of. There’s no better time than now to make ‘compassion’ and ‘positive change’ a regular and consistent part of our vocabulary.

While making resolutions is a personal choice and the actual resolutions we make is a personal decision, consider some of the following 30 suggestions for greener and cleaner living.

Conserve Resources

This year, resolve to use less water and conserve energy. Here’s a few easy ways to accomplish that:

Energy

  • Buy Energy Star appliances. Cut your monthly energy bills 30 percent by replacing old equipment in your home with state-of-the-art Energy Star products.
  • Conduct an energy audit. Then, repair leaks and faulty insulation. To learn more visitwww.eere.energy.gov/consumer.
  • Install motion-detecting lights and buy a water heater blanket. These simple steps will reduce your energy consumption and save you money on your energy bill.
  • Install timers so your lights will turn on and off at a certain time every night. Just make sure you reset the timers if the power goes out.
  • Keep the thermostat constant at 70 degrees or lower in cold weather months, 78 degrees or higher in the warm weather months.
  • Replace lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). CFLs use 75 percent less energy than conventional light bulbs and are widely available. Just remember to recycle your CFLs using Earth 911 as they contain small traces of mercury.
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room.

For more tips on conserving energy, visit California’s Flex Your Power Web site.

Water

  • Purchase a rain barrel. A rain barrel simply fits under your gutter to collect rainwater. This water can’t be used for drinking or even bathing, but it can be used to water your garden or wash your car.
  • Check bathroom fixtures for leaks.
  • Plan for more efficient landscape irrigation.

Detoxify—Home, Body and Life

  • Buy local at your neighborhood farmer’s market. Buying from farmers markets or neighborhood grocers helps the local economy and also makes you feel like part of the community. This helps reduce “food miles,” which contributes to climate change; the average meal travels 1,000 miles before it reaches your plate.
  • Buy organic and fair-trade products. The production of organic food causes much less environmental damage than conventional agriculture, and it comes without pesticides. The demand for organic food is growing at 40 percent per year.
  • Keep live plants in your home to naturally filter the air.
  • Replace your cleaning supplies with biodegradable, non-toxic alternatives. Eco-friendly cleaning products are available at health food stores and many grocers. Baking soda and vinegar substitute as great all-purpose cleaners. Other non-toxic household cleaners can be found at many stores.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals and pesticides to fertilize lawns and gardens. Cut down on pesticides and fertilizers in your garden and you’ll limit what gets washed into rivers, bays and oceans. Garden naturally and take leftover hazardous waste to household collection centers free of charge.

Reduce, Reuse, Repair and Recycle

  • Fix one item this year. Fixing an item will save you from buying a new one. One exception may be major appliances. Most new washers, dryers, fridges and the like are more efficient now than in the past, and new ones can save massive amounts of energy. However, if you make a big purchase, donate your old item to a cause.
  • Help reduce waste by buying items that use little or no packaging, or buy in bulk, which reduces unnecessary and excessive packaging. Also, find ways to use items over and over again.
  • Initiate recycling programs in your community and office.
  • Look for recycling opportunities. Keep a look-out for recycling bins in your area, or hold onto beverage containers until you get home to your curbside bin. Earth 911 provides information on where to recycle just about anything using the recycling locator search at the top of this page.
  • Recycle old batteries. All these items have toxic materials so they don’t belong in a landfill.
  • Replace bottled water with a reusable water bottle. Unless you’re recycling them, they end up sitting in a landfill. Instead of buying bottled water, install a water filter onto the outside of your home. This way, all of the water coming into your home will be filtered. If you want to be able to take water with you, buy reusable containers.
  • Start a compost pile to feed your garden. Convert those yard clippings, vegetable peelings and even coffee grounds into nature’s fertilizer for your garden. Home composters can be found at most home and garden centers. Many counties now offer discounted rates for home composters and many more counties take yard clipping “donations” for municipal compost piles that provide soil for local parks. Call your city or county for more information.
  • Reuse your grocery bags. Instead of getting paper or plastic grocery bags, take your own tote bags.
  • Think of ways to reuse things around your house. For example, old silverware can be turned into craft supplies and newspaper comics can be turned into gift wrap.
  • Buy products made from recycled materials. Resolve to “buy green” by purchasing at least one recycled-content product on a regular basis, such as paper towels or computer paper. Look for the recycling symbol (or “made from post-consumer material”) on a wide range of products. Buying products made of recycled content allows you to close the loop.

Get Out and Get Involved

  • Resolve to improve your hometown environment. Sign up for the local clean-up day, tree-planting effort, or community garden. Visit a neighborhood restoration effort to see what an ecosystem is all about. Volunteer at a local park. Adopt your own space (or mile of highway), and turn it green.
  • Volunteer in your community. Volunteers play a vital role in protecting and conserving natural resources.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors. You will be healthier and happier, while also reducing your consumption and environmental footprint.
  • Make it a goal to get out and see your community at least once a month for the better part of a day. You cannot appreciate something you never see, and you cannot solve problems you are not aware of.

Get Educated

  • Learn about your environment. Learning about the world you live in increases understanding about the need to protect it. Earth 911 has information and tips regarding climate change in addition to the largest database of recycling content on the internet.

Sources

Arcticle from Earth 911 by Teresa Hall.

M. Germaine Parra
Realtor, Feng Shui Consultant
Licensed in DC, MD and VA
Long and Foster Realtors
6862 Elm Street Office, McLean, VA  22101
Office:703-873-3500
Fax:   703-873-1901
Cell:  703.650.8838
www.germaineparra.com

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