Ten easy to keep New Year’s resolutions for you and the environment

Environmentally positive resolutions can help the environment, your wallet, and your health.

The New Year is a time to resolve to do something different, better, less or more.  Keeping those New Year’s resolutions is usually the hard part.  Without the right incentive, it’s harder to adopt and retain a new activity.  Resolving to adopt some environmentally friendly actions, will see multiple positive changes to your wallet, your time, your health and the environment.  By adopting just one, you can have a big impact. Check out these suggestions to see which might work for you:

1. Cut down on your vehicle’s emissions.

  • Keep the car in good working order. 
  • Do regular maintenance, keep tire pressure at proper levels. 
  • Plan your trips to combine stops in an orderly route. 
  • Walk, ride your bike or take public transportation to get to some destinations. 
  • Don’t let your car idle more than a few minutes.  This contributes to emissions and gives you zero miles per gallon fuel efficiency.

2. Reduce water use. 

  • Maintain a leak free home.
  • Take showers rather than baths.
  • Only do full loads in the clothes or dish washer unless the water level can be adjusted for smaller loads. 
  • Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or shave. 
  • When hand washing dishes, wash them all then rinse rather than run the water while each item is washed.
  • Always use the energy saver setting on your dishwasher.
  • Use a rain gauge and only water lawns and gardens as needed (approximately 1” per week for most plants).

3. Reduce energy use.

  • Change out standard incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights.  They last years longer to offset the added cost and save energy use by nearly 80 percent for cost saving on your energy bill.
  • Eliminate phantom power loss by unplugging all the electronic chargers in the home when not in use or use power strips to turn off multiple appliances at once. 
  • Use a timer on TVs, stereos, DVDs and game systems to automatically turn off at night (or day) when no one is using them.
  • Invest in chargers that stop using electricity when your device is fully charged.

4. Cut down on disposable products.

  • Reduce your paper towel, napkins, plates and cup use by buying good reusable versions that can be easily washed and reused.
  • Use a reusable travel drink container for hot and cold drinks on the go.

5. Eliminate plastic bottles. 

  • In the U.S., nearly 29 billion plastic bottles are thrown away annually.  That equals almost 17 percent of the total landfill waste annually.
  • Invest in BPA-free water bottles to refill. 
  • Treat your water bottle like your keys and your wallet that you take wherever you go. 

6. Reduce plastic bag use. 

  • While many stores now accept plastic bags for recycling, over 1 million plastic bags end up in the trash every minute. 
  • Reusable fabric bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes and many organizations and businesses give them away free. 

The hard part is remembering to take them shopping so keep them in your car by your purse or shopping list.

7. Cut down on household chemicals. 

  • Use environmentally friendly, non-toxic cleaners to use around the home.
  • Many household cleaners contain chemicals that may not have been tested or labeled.  Some of the most used cleaners – ammonia, chlorine bleach, and aerosols – can have harmful effects when they come in contact with the skin.  In addition to being absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, the fumes they give off are breathed into the lungs.

8. Start or increase your recycling and composting. 

  • Nearly 75 percent of the waste we throw away is reusable either through recycling into new products or by composting.  Both options are easy and don’t require much effort. 
  • Contact your local municipal public works to start recycling either curbside or at a drop off center. 
  • Contact Michigan State University Extension for information on starting a compost system.

9. Used but still too good to throw in the trash?

  • Donate good used clothing and shoes to a local charity or thrift store as an alternative to throwing unwanted textile items in the trash.
  • Host a yard sale or sell at a second hand shop.
  • Sell online or through an advertisement.

10. Complete the cycle

  • Purchase items made from recycled materials.
  • Buy from the same thrift or second hand store you just visited.
  • Use compost in your garden.
  • Increase recycling  in your home and business by making sure recycling bins, compost bins and/or donation bins are easily accessible.

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