This time of year, many folks are making New Year’s resolutions. These often focus on ways to improve one’s life – lose weight, exercise more or become a better person. While these are valid, worthy goals, it may also be time to look at what can be done to help the environment.
The Kansas Department of Health Environment offered some suggestions, simple things that can make a big difference:
• Use fewer disposable shopping bags. It’s a simple step that helps reduce the millions of bags that are filling up our landfills. Remember to always put the bags back in the car after unloading. If one has disposable bags, reuse them for trash can liners or dog pick up bags.
• Switch monthly bills to electronic billing.
• Before you throw anything away, ask if anything can be used in a new way or if someone else could use it.
• Use environmentally-friendly cleaners. It is now easy to find or make eco-friendly cleaning supplies.
• Recycle anything and everything you can. If you have to take your recycling somewhere, it helps to combine it with a trip you are making for other reasons.
• Start composting – it’s simple and you get free fertilizer.
• If replacing appliances, more for more efficient devices like the available Energy Star models will save you money in the long run.
• Buy and eat local food. Support local, organic agriculture in your community and shop at your local farmers markets. Supporting the folks who grow and sell food in your area will help one’s health and the health of their area’s economy.
• Try to avoid buying one-time-use plastic water bottles; instead opt for a refillable water bottle. Last year, in the United States alone, consumers used over 50 billion plastic water bottles. That is a lot of plastic, a percentage of which ends up in our landfills.
• Walk more, particularly if a destination is less than 30 minutes on foot. It’s good for health and the environment.
• Check for leaks in toilets. A leaking toilet can waste anywhere between 30 and 500 gallons of water every day, so any leak should be repaired. To see if a toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the dye shows up in the toilet bowl after 15 minutes or so, the toilet has a leak.
It doesn’t take much. One doesn’t have to be an “environmentalist” to take a few tiny steps to help the planet.
Funny thing is this – sure it helps the planet, but many of these simple ideas can save money and improve health. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, that kills two birds with one stone.