The tree is at the chipper and the organic eggnog is past its expiry date. So if you are the resolving type, now may be a good time to consider one or two New Years resolutions of the sustainable variety. Here are a few on my list. Because everyone is on their own green journey, I have listed them in ascending order of difficulty. Got any green resolutions of your own? Please comment below and let me know!
Easy as shelling a green bean:
1. Recycle your batteries. Nowadays, all types of batteries can be brought back to your local London Drugs (and many other places as well) with the Call2Recycle program drop-off boxes. I keep a small bag in my kitchen drawer for watch batteries, single-use alkalines and the rechargeables that just won’t recharge any more.
2. Keep track of your mileage. It’s amazing how much difference low tire pressure or a heavy accelerator foot can make to your gas consumption, but you never know until you track it. Note mileage when you fill up and calculate the difference next time you top up. Divide liters into kilometers, move the decimal point a few places over and you get your liters per 100km rating. Example: At last fill, my 2003 Honda Element used 36.07 liters to travel 397 km. 36.07 ÷ 397 = .09 or approximately 9L/100km.
3. Wash your clothes in cold water – Not only is it easier on fabrics, but cold water washing saves energy and money. All it takes is a flick of the switch.
Greener and a little tougher – (more like celery):
4. Take your bike or transit one day a week to work or school. This is a no-brainer if you live downtown, but a lot tougher if you have a rancher in the ‘burbs. Try it anyway, just to see. You may be pleasantly surprised at the fun and exercise, or end up lobbying city hall for better transit service!
5. De-Clutter all of your old electronics and recycle them. From the ancient cell phone in your desk drawer to the old PC in the garage, give up on the idea that you will ever be able to sell them. Take them somewhere you know they will be recycled properly and any leftover data securely destroyed. Like, say, London Drugs.
6. Shop at a farmers market once a month. This is a fun day trip for the family. Take along a little extra cash, because real hand-grown food is generally more expensive than the Food Incorporated variety. But its a great way to remind the kids that food does not grow on shelves.
Deep Hippie Green
7. Know where everything you buy comes from. Read labels. Do some online research on your favourite brands. Do you know where your regular stores’ head offices are? (London Drugs is 100% Canadian owned and headquartered in Richmond, BC) The more you know about global supply chains, the better equipped you will be to vote with your wallet.
8. Buy power bars and really turn off the appliances you aren’t using. ‘Standby Power’, or the small trickle of electricity many appliances use even while in the ‘off’ position, really adds up. (A 1998 study estimated that devices on standby accounted for about 5% of U.S. residential electricity consumption, adding some $3 billion to annual energy costs) Sure, your DVD player will flash 12:00, but do you REALLY need it to tell you the time? Note: Be sure not to disconnect your alarm clock.
9. Commit to using more rechargeable batteries. This is a bit of an expense as you get going, but trust me – you will save money in the long run. And it is quite satisfying to reach for batteries you charged yourself and know that’s one less set of cells that need to be paid for and disposed of.
10. Replace your old major appliances. From the ancient, wheezing, refrigerator to the avocado-coloured washing machine from 1972, to the giant fat-screen TV in the den, old appliances suck. (Water and power that is) Look for the EnerGuide Label and get the most efficient unit that will suit your needs. Like this sweet LCD TV.
Keep on Sustaining!
Most importantly, wherever you are on the great green journey, stay on the course. Every little bit counts, and we are all in this crazy New Year together. That’s the real Green Deal!