Is Being Green on Your New Year’s List of Resolutions?
You may remember Kermit the Frog singing the tune “it’s not easy being green”. Here are some tips from Michelle De Nicola on what you can do to live a greener lifestyle. Choose a couple of items and include them in your New Year’s List of Resolutions.
Reusables, Not Disposables:
+ Towel Power – Use cloth towels instead of paper towels. Dedicate a few kitchen towels to drying produce after you wash it, and put a washcloth in with your baby greens to absorb moisture. Use a bar mob or sponge to clean up counter spills, and keep one for floor messes too.
+ BYO Towel – Keep a washcloth or small towel in your bag or car and at work, so when you are on the go, you can dry your hands with your own personal towel, instead of creating paper towel waste or using electricity from running electric hand dryer.
+ BYO Bags – Get reusable bags for all your shopping. Also try the mesh produce bags. Don’t buy into the so-called reusable plastic shopping bags or the paper bags at checkout. If you forgot your bags, grab a cart and wheel your groceries to your car.
+ Reusable Food Storage Bags – These will save you money and cut down on resources used to make virgin single-use plastic bags.
+ BYO Utensils – Not just for camping, you can get a set of reusable utensils for your lunch bag, backpack, briefcase, and car so you’re never in need of a plastic
“single use” utensil again.
+ Bye, Bottled Water – It takes more water to make the plastic bottle of bottled water than to fill it up. Get a reusable, washable bottle instead.
+ Rechargeable batteries – Buy a few sets of rechargeable batteries with chargers instead of buying single-use.
+ Paper & Paper Products – Switch you office paper and paper products to a tree-free alternative, such as paper made from sugar cane or 100% post-consumer product. Not just printer paper, but also toilet paper, tissues, napkins, and paper towels.
+ Public Paper – Opt out of using paper towel in public restrooms.
+ Bills – Sign up for e-statements so your bills get delivered to your email inbox, not your mailbox. Less mail sorting, too!
+ Ditch the Receipts – Many retailers can now email and text receipts to you at the point of sale. Choose whenever you can. Plus, you’ll have more room in your wallet for other things, like cash!
+ Say No to To-Go boxes – Bring your own sandwich box when you eat out. If you’re picking up an order, bring your own bag.
+ BYO Mug – Carry a travel mug or tumbler with you for beverages on the go. Or make beverages at home and enjoy them on the go
Plastic – Reduce & Replace
+ Water Filtration – Buy a water filter pitcher or a filter for you kitchen sink. It’ll give you more filtered water for less money than bottled water.
+ Bioplastic Bags – Replace your plastic trash bags and doggie doo bags with bioplastic. It’s made from plants and is biodegradeable, unlike its petroleum counterpart.
+ Straws – When you dine out, tell your waiter or bartender you don’t want a straw. If you must have a straw, choose reusable (& get a cleaning kit), bioplastic, or recycled paper.
+ Avoid Polystyrene – Polystyrene is often called Styrofoam, but they’re not the same thing. Polystyrene (PS) is what the foamy white cups and to-go containers are made from. It’s toxic to make and leaches toxins into your food, especially when hot.
+ Bamboo, Baby! – Ditch the hardwood and choose bamboo for just about everything. It makes great flooring, countertops cabinets, fences, and furniture. And since it’s a quickly-growing reed, it’s super sustainable and naturally pest-resistant.
+ Recycled & Re-purposed – Recycled glass and recycled stone counter tops are beautiful, durable, easy to clean, and much friendlier to the planet than new quarried stone slabs.
+ Reuse – Check out thrift stores for decor, before you hit the retail stores.
Reduce Gas Usage
+ Use Public Transportation – Try Amtrak, the Coaster, the Trolley, bus lines, bike, or walking. Try splitting a cab or ride sharing too.
+ Carpool – You’ll use less gas and you can share the costs with your fellow riders.
+ Shop Local – Buy locally-grown foods at one of the many farmer’s markets in the county. There’s less transportation involved in getting the foods to you, thus reducing the carbon footprint of what you buy.
+ Water Off – When you wash your hands, lather up with the water off. Keep it off while brushing your teeth, too.
+ Go – Put a water-filled container in your toilet tank for less water useage per flush.
Reduce Energy Usage
+ Switch to LED lightbulbs – They use far less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs, and less that compact fluorescents, too. Plus they don’t contain mercury like compact fluorescent bulbs, and put out very little heat.
+ Lights Out – For an easy way to power down, plug devices into power strips around you home. Just flip the switch to turn off everything at once.
+ Save with OhmConnect – Sign up at www.ohmconnect.com for free and join the Sierra Club team. You’ll save money and earn points while helping to keep the dirtiest power plants offline during peak hours.
+ Compost – Start a compost bin to keep food waste out of the dump, where it rots and releases methane, a major greenhouse gas. The City of San Diego holds free composting classes–just check their website, sandiego.gov.
+ Diaper Dilemma – Switch to cloth instead of using disposables, which sit around in landfills for 250 – 500 years. Rubber help with waterproofing. If you’re traveling, try biodegradable bamboo diapers.
+ Reuse & Recycle Foil – Don’t buy into the marketing of using foil to avoid doing dishes. Aluminum can be recycled using just 5% of the energy it takes to make a new product. If you must buy foil, go with 100% recycled product.
+ Packaging – Consider the packaging of products you buy and how you’ll recycle it.
Kind Food Choices
+ Go Organic – Pesticides are harmful for humans, animals, and pollinating insects, like bees. One of the most widely-used pesticides, Roundup, contains a key ingredient called glyphosate. It’s a probable human carcinogen that’s present in high amounts in some very popular foods—like a cereal brand often fed to toddlers, brand name chips, cookies, and more. Glyphosate also binds to nutrients, pulling them out of the soil and out of food, decreasing nutritional value. Because it’s water soluble, glyphosate in crop runoff pollutes soil and water sources beyond the area that’s sprayed.
+ Just Say ‘No’ to GMO – Many GMO plants are resistant to pesticides, so multiple rounds of pesticide are sprayed on them to repel insects. Because of the wind and pollinators, like bees, some of the DNA can travel to organic farms and contaminate the crops. To create GMOs, biotech companies alter DNA structure, adding in what nature never intended. This alteration also allows them to patent the plant, and thus own it. We human guinea pigs don’t yet know the full extent of GMOs on our health. Something else to consider–biotech and chemical companies are in control of more of our food supply than our farmers.
+ Real Food, Not Processed – The more you buy plants and grains that are in their whole form, the more nutrition they’ll have and the more money you’ll save. You’ll have less packaging waste, too.
+ Support Sustainable & Fair Companies – You vote with your dollars every time you buy products. Support food and beverage companies with sustainable farming practices—not those who destroy the rain forests and the soil, spray toxins onto our crops, or pollute our rivers, land, and air. Choose companies that are fair to people and humane to animals.
About the Author
Michelle became involved in the San Diego chapter of the Sierra Club this past January 2017. She’s a member of the Conservation Committee, working on Zero Waste and Environmental Justice issues, and the new Conservation Chair for the Social Sierrans.