Happy New Year! Gong xi fa cai! For many people, the New Year is a time of new beginnings and change. What better way to celebrate the New Year than to make some eco resolutions!
In my experience (thesis research and personal), most people care about the environment but many folks believe that being ‘green’ is difficult, expensive, or time consuming. But living an environmentally friendly lifestyle is much easier than most people realize. Start with something simple and once you see how easy it is to be eco-friendly, then commit to more or bigger changes!
There are many ecological practices and activities that are easy to do and that don’t take much time. A lot of green practices and products are budget friendly and surprisingly, many are often cheaper than or the same price as their commercial counterparts. Although some products and services are more expensive initially, they usually save you money in the long run. Lastly, they are not only better for the Earth, but they are safer and healthier for you and your family too!
Here are a couple quick eco resolutions you can make!
Commit ten minutes per day:
Make the commitment to devote ten minutes (or more!) a day to the environment. This is a simple but easy method to ‘go green’, which doesn’t take a lot of time. Small changes can greatly impact our environment and make a huge difference!
Spend a few minutes of each day focused on your green goal. During the first few days, you may want to learn more about an environmental issue that interests you. Then, over the next several days, research about possible eco practices and green alternatives. Finally make the changes by gradually incorporating them in your routine. In as little as a few days or a couple weeks, and using only ten or more minutes of your time per day, you can easily incorporate a green practice in your life!
One of the simplest and easiest ways to be more eco-friendly is to not let the faucet run while you are brushing your teeth, washing your hands, cleaning your face, or cleaning dishes. According the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) you can save up to eight gallons of water a day or over 200 gallons a month, just by shutting off the water while you brush your teeth a couple times a day1! Wet your toothbrush, hands, face, or the dishes, and then shut off the water while you brush your teeth, apply cleanser to your hands or face, or scrub the dishes. Turn the water back on to rinse.
Shutting the water off mid way through washing, takes only a few seconds yet saves gallons of water. An added plus is your water bill will be reduced!
1From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Sense website, which is a great website for adults and kids! Main website: http://epa.gov/watersense/
The statistic was on the kid’s section of the EPA's website: http://epa.gov/watersense/kids/tap-off.html
Reduce unwanted gifts:
A Consumer Reports poll reported that approximately 20% of adults in the U.S. (about 49 million people) received Christmas gifts that they did not like2. That is a lot of gifts! Many people kept the gift and put it somewhere out of view (39%), and a good proportion of people (11%) threw the gift unused in the trash.
Instead of letting the gift collect dust in the back of your closet, or chucking it into a trash bin, there are many eco-friendlier things you can do. Donate the gifts to those in need: many homeless and women's shelters need items like winter clothing, blankets, and toiletries, especially during this time of year. Or give the gift to someone who’ll appreciate it like a friend or family member. Have a yard sale, leave it in at your local community center (make sure it is okay to do this first), or leave it on the sidewalk with a ‘for free’ sign. You can also return it to a store (if possible) or try to sell it online. Or take it apart and use it for craft items or to make something new (for example: you can turn outlandish clothes into nice reusable bags).
And don’t forget that for next year: change the way you and your loved ones exchange gifts! Tell your loved ones exactly what you want (instead of leaving them guessing). Decide to give thoughtful hand made gifts that people will eat or use (like favorite foods or skin care). Donate in lieu of gifts. Instead of exchanging gifts with everyone in your family or group, have a secret Santa exchange (so each person gets one gift. Make sure each person supplies a list of gifts they would like to receive). Give gift cards to their favorite store: let them get what they really want! Or make the decision to exchange no gifts (consume less).
2Consumer Reports link: http://news.consumerreports.org/money/2011/12/20-percent-of-adults-get-stuck-with-lousy-holiday-gifts.html
My eco living article on green and budget friendly hand made gifts: http://www.allnaturalbeauty.com/articles/eco-living
An eco living article on greening your holidays: http://www.allnaturalbeauty.com/articles/eco-living/702-eco-living-green-your-holidays
For more great green living ideas and eco tips read my previous eco living articles here on anb mall or check out my eco blog: Solarkat’s Eco Blog.
About The Author:
Li Wong is the owner of Earth Alkemie, an all natural, vegetarian skin care and mineral makeup company. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies (Biology) and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy. Li has been crafting natural cosmetics and studying aromatherapy and herbalism since 2001. Environmental interests include conservation, botany, ethnobotany (uses of plants by indigenous peoples), mammals, organic standards in cosmetics, urban wildlife issues, environmental education and awareness, and public perception. For more information on environmental issues, Eco Living, natural cosmetics, aromatherapy, and herbalism check out: Solarkat’s Eco Blog. http://solarkatecoblogspot.com
For information on natural ingredients, the benefits of natural cosmetics, and green business practices, please visit Earth Alkemie’s blog: http://www.earthalkemie.com/blog