Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Green New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! I wish you all a year of great moments and fabulous milestones. Some of you may have made New Years resolutions. Some of you may not have with the knowledge that you will never keep them. Very honest of you.

For those of you who fall in the latter category, this installment may not be for you. I advise that you close this email, park your bottom in front of the television and consume the remaining chocolate and sugary treats left over from the holidays with a six pack and carton of cigarettes by you side.

For those of you who like to make resolutions and are honing a green consciousness, you may find this installment of interest.

Cheryl’s Fabulous Green Resolutions for 2007

Working on reducing your footprint on the planet but wanting to do more? The following are projects to focus on during 2007. Even if you pick one area, you will go a long way in reducing your greenhouse gas contribution. Figure out a milestone you want to reach be it 10% or 100%.

1. Reduce Trash
This is becoming a project of Jane and mine. We want to reduce the amount of trash that goes in the landfill and I’ve set the mark of 75% by the end of the year. We’re fortunate since the City of Toronto has the organic green box program where everything from banana peels, soiled paper products to kitty litter gets recycled. We feel we can reduce our landfill contribution even more. Here are other ways to reduce landfill waste:
  • Identify plastic packaging that can be recycled in your community and avoid purchasing products packaged in plastic that cannot be recycled. Easier said than done, I know but doable. Cell phones, Ipods and the like have the shell life of days. Do you really need the latest Blackberry that also serves as a Swiss Army knife? You can buy and sell used products from places like Freecycle, Craig’s List, Kijigi, and the Buy & Sell.
  • Send all cell phones, Ipods, TVs, computers and the like to be recycled. Please make a point of this as the toxic materials in e-waste ends up in groundwater.
  • Compost – great for the garden!
  • In my community the recycle program does not accept plastic bags. The Dominion grocery store accepts used plastic bags which it sends away to be recycled. Find out if your local grocer does the same.
  • Earn a few bucks by arranging a garage sale.
  • Find out from your city government if it has set times during the year when it collects any material that you don’t know what to do with. Chances are a home can be found for what you don’t want anymore.

2. Reduce Energy Waste at Home and the Office
If you have some extra money that you don’t know what to do with, why not hire an energy auditor to inspect your home or office? Find out where your home or business can reduce energy loss and the utility bill.

3. Sock it Away!
Open a savings account and put a little away a month to pay for the energy retrofit that your energy auditor advices you to make – or save for a solar, wind or geothermal system in your home, or an energy efficient refrigerator.

4. Reduce Moo and Bukuk in your Diet
Reduce your meat consumption by 25%, 50% or more. Locate a place where you can buy organic meat and make a point of making that your meat purchasing place of choice.

5. Drive Less
Reduce your time behind the wheel by 25%, 50% or more. Start off by picking a day a week when you don’t drive and go from there.

6. Fly Less
This year, plan a vacation closer to home. If you must fly, purchase carbon credits (good for cars too). Through work I am traveling to Halifax. I paid $9.95 as part of my carbon credit. I will do the same for my trip to Mexico last October. The amount is determined by air miles. The money is invested in renewable energy.

7. Go More Local
Increase purchase of fruits and veggies in your province or state. Grow your own organic garden. Choose local businesses over corporations. The more local you go the more money stays in your community.

8. Invest in Renewable Energy
Choose a utility provider that invests in renewable energy.

9. Buy Less Stuff
Before buying something, ask yourself why you need to have it.

10. Get your News from the Alternative Press
Do you find mainstream press to be gloomy and not terribly in-depth? Join the club. Make a point of reading at least one publication from the alternative press. May I recommend Utne, Yes!. Positive News from Around the World, Resurgence. Read about the huge groundswell taking place worldwide.

11. Practice Democracy
Feel weird about emailing your local rep? Why? It’s your job. Remember, they work for you. You hired them (I hope). Why not let them know when you’re happy, disappointed or royally pissed off by government policy or lack thereof?

Chose a goal: i.e., within the next month write to one of your reps. Lord knows there’s lots to talk about. Are you concerned about global warming? An energy policy that includes nuclear? Smog in your city? Your reps need to know.

12. Make a Difference at Work
Take the bull by the horns. Talk to your boss. If you’re the boss, devise a green plan for the office. Reduce paper use, buy recycled or Forest Stewardship Council approved paper, turn off computers and standby power when not needed, use eco-friendly cleaning produces, improve the energy efficiency in your office.

In the News
Green Bloggers


Grist Magazine

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog

Alternative Energy Blog

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