Eco-Resolutions & Solutions
Welcome to 2009! The year of the eco-ox. On the off chance that you’re still recovering from too many libations and you haven’t had a moment to write down your resolutions for the new year, here is a list of five eco-resolutions to get you off on the right foot – they make it easy for you to give back to the planet as well as your pocket. Here are some simple changes you can commit to and easily start living a more sustainable life.
1. I will stop using plastic bottles and vow to carry my reusable bottle of choice at all times. The NRDC conducted 1,000 separate tests of over 100 bottled water brands and found that the bottled water was not cleaner, purer, or safer than tap water. There have even been reports about certain companies simply bottling tap water. So kick the bad bottle habit once and for all. Klean Kanteen is great, and lately we’re really loving Earthlust’s custom designs. As an added bonus you can wrap this resolution into the annual “I will save more” declaration and make a jar where each day you put the money you would have spent on bottled water – you’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up. In 2006, Americans bought 2.6 billion cases of bottled water, totaling $15 billion – which means saving a year of plastic bottle money may allow you to treat yourself to an eco-vacation.
2. I resolve to answer the “paper or plastic?” question with a BYOB solution. Let’s face it, the some 88 billion petroleum-based plastic bags consumed in the U.S. each year are ugly (and take 1,000 years to decompose), but using trees and energy to make paper bags isn’t much better. This year, make it a priority to bring your own bag – always. There are many chic options that allow you to display your eco-resolution in a unique and personal way (we love the FEED bag). Just make sure to evaluate the materials used, since many bags being introduced in the market under the guise of “green” or “eco” are petroleum-based or made from conventional cotton (full of pesticides and toxic chemicals). One of the most inexpensive options available is a simple organic cotton tote. At $9 you may want to pick up a few so you can stock up your car, gym bag, purse, or your briefcase. The clean slate canvas lends itself to complete creativity – try having your inner artist or your kids decorate them with non-toxic pens or paints. For produce, string bags (only $5.25 right now!) work well. The tiniest solution to this big problem is the $5 Chico Bag, which can be stuffed into itself to fit in the palm of your hand, or pocket, or purse. Though they are not made of a natural material, Chico has a take-back program so the polyester bags (and any other old bags you have) can be 100% recycled. Aside from saving the planet, you’ll also be saving your pocketbook, since most grocery stores give you a small kick-back when you BYOB.
3. Waste: The light green resolution – I will recycle. If you want to take your green routine a shade deeper, then make 2009 the year you start to compost. Really, there are no more excuses for not recycling in 2009. Cities and towns are making it easier and easier, since most have curbside pick-up. If you ever question whether an item can be recycled, or how to recycle it, check out earth911.com. Encourage your workplace to switch to recycled paper products wherever possible. With four million tons of copy paper used in the U.S. each year, choosing paper with 100 percent recycled fibers saves lots of energy and water in production, and will significantly reduce the number of trees cut down. As for the eco-devotees that are ready for the next step, start to compost your kitchen scraps. According to the EPA, 24 percent of the waste Americans send to landfills is organic waste. We love the Can-O-Worms in-house compost bin. It’s a great way to start reducing your landfill contributions by almost a quarter!
4. I resolve to change my transportation habits. If you can schedule in time for the gym and happy hour drinks with friends, you can schedule in the extra time needed to walk or bike to work. Give the road rage a rest and try committing to an alternative form of transportation once a week. Ideally, the carbon-free route is best (with a little added endorphin boost for the traditional “exercise more” resolution) but taking the bus or train will still help to minimize your carbon footprint – according to the American Public Transportation Association, using public transportation saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline each year.
5. I resolve to consider where my food comes from and how it is farmed. Ideally, supporting seasonal, local agriculture from organic, sustainably managed farms is best for the planet and for your health. This doesn’t have to mean a weekly trip to the farmer’s market – you can sign up for a CSA or simply make a conscious choice at the grocery store when looking at that apple from New Zealand. As you are committing to cut back on your carbon-emitting transportation, try to cut back on your food’s footprint as well. Where it comes from and the amount of toxic pesticides used in its production both contribute to how much waste and carbon emissions are generated – one study by the Rodale Institute found that organic farming reduces carbon dioxide by using 37 percent fewer fossil fuels than conventional farming.