As another year comes to an end, we start thinking about all the great changes we hope to make for the New Year. In many cases, we start off the year with a bang – making sure we eat healthy, stop spending frivolously, go for our morning jogs. However, by mid-January we are finding excuses to make these great changes nonexistent. Which is why I have put together a list of 2013 New Year’s sustainability “no excuse” resolutions. These resolutions will cut your carbon footprint, close those purse strings, and show your commitment to the quality of life around you.
Year Round Inspiration: While some of the resolutions listed below may be considered “typical” to you, there may be one or two that might surprise you.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – It goes beyond recycling your bottles, cans, and paper – it becomes a part of your daily life. A simple resolution for your home can be to place a small recycling bin right next your indoor trash can, you will be amazed by how many items can actually be recycled. As a former employee of Goodwill of Orange County, a non-profit with a mission to help people with disabilities and other barriers , I saw the items that generous people donated to the organization. Goodwill has a great eco-conscious business model with an exceptional purpose – accept unwanted goods from the general public, resell these goods, use the proceeds to support their mission. For those online shoppers, check out ShopGoodwill – an online auction featuring antiques, high-end merchandise, and more. For the fashionistas out there, you would be surprised on what treasures you can discover in store or online.
2. Drive Less, Travel Differently – It is quite understandable for those living in Southern California about the difficulties of traveling without the use of a vehicle. However, this should not be an excuse to look for other commuting options. I live in Riverside County and used to commute into Orange County – for those that are familiar, the 91 freeway can be disastrous. Just a few weeks of commuting back and forth made me scream obscenities and cause frustration with the cars around me – I hated the person I had become. Finally, after doing some research I realized that there was a Metrolink train stop a few miles from my home and would bring me to my office in about 35 minutes! After that I never looked back – my monthly train pass cost less than my monthly driving costs, the time spent on the train included naps, reading, chatting with train buddies, snacking, and relaxing. But the best part was doing my part by reducing my carbon footprint.
3. Stop Wasting Water – When we step into a hot, steamy shower, we use this water to melt away our stress and worries – but we do not realize how much water we waste while we let our minds roam free. Set a 5-minute timer to shorten your water use and you will be amazed by how much water you waste. Like to listen to music when you shower? Set your favorite 5 minute song everyday, so that you know when your time in the shower is done.
4. Go Meatless – I have been a vegetarian my whole life for religious and personal reasons, but being a vegetarian aligns with my environmental morals. According to the EPA, “About 634 gallons of water are used to produce just one hamburger.” Additionally, the Huffington Post stated “If each American cuts meat and cheese from their diet one day a week, it would be equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the road.” If becoming a vegetarian is not resolution for you, consider observing Meatless Mondays or any other day that works for you.
5. Garden and Compost – I am a big supporter for local farmer’s markets, but I am a bigger supporter of harvesting the “fruits” (pun intended) of one’s labor from home. With some elbow grease, your backyard can be transformed into its very own produce aisle. Once you grow your vegetable and fruit garden you can compost organic food waste by placing them into your garden, enriching the soil as a result.