New Year’s Resolutions are often overly ambitious, as we work really hard at them in January, but they become forgotten dreams by April. I’m sure we’ve all heard about how it’s important to make goals for yourself that are realistic, attainable, and measurable. Whatever stage you are at in the area of greening your life, there are some simple and easily applicable changes you can decide on for New Year’s Resolutions.
Here are some simple ideas:
Choose to use LED light bulbs instead of regular incandescent or compact fluorescent (CFL). You don’t need to go and change every light bulb in your house January 1st. Consider buying a few LED light bulbs that you have on hand for when a light bulb needs to be replaced. This will allow you to do a gradual changeover to LED bulbs without making a huge one-time investment. Make sure you dispose of your used light bulbs appropriately – don’t put them in the garbage; bring them to an Eco-Station or other local light bulb recycling program.
Note on CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs): These were the first energy-saving bulbs to hit the market, and they do save energy. But they are extremely toxic if they break, and definitely cannot be put in the garbage (they are considered toxic waste!). For this reason, we suggest you look at the LED bulbs.
Get a power bar for your electronic devices. Most electronic devices, like computers, televisions, DVD players, coffee makers, etc drain energy whenever they’re plugged in, regardless of whether they’re turned on and off. Many of these devices continue to use “standby power” constantly. Consider plugging several of your electronic devices into a power bar that you can turn on and off so that they are not always using energy. You can also get power bars with timers on them that you can program to turn off at night and back on in the morning. There are even power bars with remotes to deal with plug-ins behind furniture!
Choose to air-dry your laundry. Whether you decide to do this year-round by getting an indoor drying rack, or just in the summer months when you can have a clothesline or drying rack outside, every time you choose to air-dry versus use your dryer, you are saving a ton of energy. You could even choose to line-dry half your laundry, which over 1 year would save 6kg of CO2 emissions (according to CBC’s Carbon Diet).
Wash your laundry in cold water. This one is a no-brainer, but I’m sure some people out there are still washing their laundry in warm or hot water. You will be saving all the energy needed to heat the water for your laundry. Your clothes will not know the difference!
Choose reusable over disposable. This can be applied in so many situations. Put a small travel cutlery set in your bag that you can use when eating out, instead of using plastic one-use cutlery. You can do the same with a reusable straw (stainless steel or glass are the best bets) and avoid the waste of disposable plastic straws. Bring your own cloth reusable bags when shopping. Another step in this direction is to bring your own produce bags (there are great organic cotton or mesh ones widely available) to grocery stores or farmers markets.
Choose green cleaning supplies. You don’t have to get rid of all your cleaning products in favour of green ones right away, but when something needs replacing, opt for something greener that will be better for the environment, and better for the health of your family. You can get green cleaning products at most standard stores nowadays. There are also many green cleaning recipes on Google and Pinterest that you can easily mix yourself. Vinegar and baking soda are pretty awesome for cleaning most everything.
What green resolutions will you make this year?