The dawn of the New Year is approaching. The buzz of the New Year’s Resolution is beginning to consume the void space of the radio stations. The typical resolutions are out there – exercise more, eat less fast food, get organized, spend less money, save more money, etc. Most of us will not see these resolutions through the month of January, yet we may spend a lot of money to attempt getting there.
Too often, we make resolutions that are out of reach. An incremental approach can be taken to get to a sustainable future. I will try to provide a few resolutions that will hopefully be a gateway toward a sustainable future.
1. Make Recycling Easy: Purchase two new waste receptacles for your home kitchen. The receptacles should be different sizes. You should label the largest of the two as Recycling, and the smaller as, Landfill. For an office setting, transform your waste receptacle into a recycling receptacle and hang a small container over the side for waste. The image below appropriately shows the hierarchy of waste in an office setting.

  • Bonus Points: Purchase a small metal bucket and label it as compost.

2. Go Bagless: Instead of choosing “Paper or Plastic” or even bringing your own bag, tell the cashier ‘no thank you.’ This can be accomplished with the use of crates. Purchase a few crates, collapsible or not, and store them in your trunk. After the grocery store scans your items, simply put them back in the cart, wheel it to your vehicle and load the crates. When you get home from the store, simply carry the crates in the house rather than bags. Crates are a much more durable item than cloth bags which can rip over time (see The Cloth Shopping Bag Post).

  • Bonus Points: Purchase a collapsible grocery cart and walk to the store saving bags and emissions.

3. Make Your Exercise Meaningful: Instead of paying to join an expensive gym, try changing your transportation habits. Walk or bicycle to the store, work, school, etc. Meaningful exercise is a powerful way to save time, money and stay healthy. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in September 2008 showed that “a man of average height and weight (6 feet, 200 pounds) weighed 10 pounds less if he lived in a walkable neighborhood versus a less walkable neighborhood. A woman of average size (about 5-foot-5, 149 pounds), weighed six pounds less.”

  • Bonus Points: Move closer to where you work to make exercise more meaningful.

4. Grow Your Own Food: Gardening has several benefits to people who span from the personal pocketbook to education. The garden has always been commonplace, however its popularity has increased over the past few years. Kids seems to be more excited about eating vegetables when they are involved in the process of gardening the vegetable. At a recent conference in Colorado Springs, Debra Eschmeyer of FoodCorps said that a common statement from kids involved with their gardening program is “We grew it, so we like it a lot more.”

  • Bonus Points: Remove high water-use turf areas and replace with a garden.

Reduce, Reduce, Reduce: Decreasing waste, water and energy use all start with Reduction. The natural effects of the recession has been to cut back on purchasing, primarily as a means to save money. There are many things that we can purchase to be sustainable, but the easiest thing to do is to decrease the amount of items that we purchase, or choosing items that are not disposable.
Happy Sustainable New Year!