1. Save money without spending a dime – Save money while being green – unplug electronic equipment after use, turn off the lights after leaving the room, lower your heat and wear an extra sweater. Switch from chemical cleaners to homemade baking soda/vinegar combos can save you $600 a year, and taking public transportation saves money on gas.
2. Save money by investing in efficiency – Sometimes you have to spend a little to save. Energy monitors show you where your home is wasting energy, while a programmable thermostat could have you saving as much as 15% on your energy bill. In other cases, you might have to invest just a bit more time-making your lunch ahead of time instead of ordering take-out, baking your own bread, or learn some simple home repair and skip that next call to the Maytag man.
3. Cut clutter – We all have too much stuff—especially if your home just received an influx of gifts over the holidays. Unclutter and update your closet by donating to a local charity. Recycle all junk mail. Getting rid of excess in your home by reusing it means less waste, fewer landfills, and eventually less energy spent on the production of a whole lot of unnecessary junk.
4. Lose weight – Classic weight loss tips such as: eat fresh vegetables, skip the processed food aisle, and cut out red mea all line up perfectly with a green lifestyle. Bad high calories foods use lots of energy to produce and the packaging just creates more waste. Trading even one meat-based meal each week for a vegetarian option can help curb the effects of global warming. If you’re going less than one mile, trade driving for walking; for longer distances, brush off your bike and hit and watch the pounds fall off.
5. Quit smoking – Cigarettes are a huge source of litter, plus there’s nothing eco-friendly about the pesticides, deforestation, paper use, and waste output of cigarette production. If you’re ready to quit, replace the habit with exercise, or healthy snacks.
6. Get involved – Focus your energy on others or on the environment. Join a community supported agriculture program, volunteer at an animal shelter or an environmental charity and you can feel good about making a difference. The key is matching your interests and talents with the right organization, and sometimes that could be as simple as starting at home and greening your community.
7. Organize your office – Whether in your work or home office, this is the perfect chance to go paperless. Filing documents electronically and using a scanner and paper shredder in tandem means less wasted paper—plus it’s easier to store and review important bills when you need them. Even better, convince your boss to let you work from home and save money, time, and carbon emissions by not having to commute, buy lunch, wrestle with your company’s recycling policies, etc.
8. Learn to recycle something new – Sure, you’re a pro at putting glass, paper, and aluminum in the proper containers, and you never leave your newspaper on the subway—but what about all the other stuff you can recycle? Computers, DVD players, televisions, compact fluorescent light bulbs and cell phones all can and should be recycled, so the metals can be disposed of correctly or, even better, reused. If you’re already doing this, consider starting a compost bin for your organic food scraps, capturing rainwater for watering plants and flushing the toilet, or buying clothes made from recyclable fibers.
9. Join a TreeHugger – remember to take a reusable bag to the grocery store, to the difficult, use the car one less day each week; spread the environmental gospel by going up against climate change critics, or giving out copies of the film An Inconvenient Truth. Swear off factory-farmed meat and eating local, organic meat; and eating one fully locally-sourced meal each week. No matter what your lifestyle is like, there are enough green resolutions out there for you to choose the one that works for you.
10. Stick to it – Keep your resolutions simple, look at small changes you can make to reach your long term goals, like adding 30 minutes of bike riding to your daily routine or going to the famer’s market twice a month. And don’t make too many—choose one, maybe two, goals and focus on those.