Lose five pounds. Get a promotion. Exercise more. Those are great resolutions for yourself, but what about resolutions for the planet?
There are quite a few easy things you can do as the New Year becomes a reality to make 2011 a more eco-friendly year for all. None of these take much effort, but combined, they can have a major impact on the world we know and love.
1. Break the disposable battery habit. I write about this every year, and every year I still see people using disposable batteries. Make the investment in a battery charger and a set of batteries. You'll spend a little bit at the beginning and then save a lot of money for years to come. Plus you won't be sending old, chemical-laden batteries into the landfill anymore.
2. Take shorter showers. This is my greatest eco-weakness. I know that with a little bit more effort I could cut my water use by 25%, maybe more. Wash faster, turn the water off while you lather up your hair, run the water colder so you get out quicker. Those are just a few ways you can cut your water use.
3. Take more walks. There's no better way to appreciate nature -- and see what we're doing to it -- than by getting out and seeing it with your own two eyes. Enjoy it and then do what you can to improve it.
4. Pick one way to be more efficient. The more efficient you are, the less energy you'll use, and the fewer greenhouse gases or other emissions you'll generate. So what are a few ways you could resolve to be more efficient? Here are a few ideas: 1) Cook for more than one night at a time. Leftovers require less energy to heat and reserve. 2) Take public transport when you can. 3) When you're driving, save up all of your little trips for one big trip. 4) Air dry your clothes, or start them in the dryer and then let them finish on an air-drying rack. 5) Change your hours so you're doing more during the daylight, so you don't need to spend as much effort on lighting or heating.
These are just a few ideas, and chances are that only one or two will work for you, but give them a try and see what works.
5. Hire a home energy auditor. Your house might be leaking heat and you'd never know it. A home energy auditor can help identify weak spots that will help keep your home warm in the winter while using less energy. A one-time $500 investment could pay for itself in a year, after which you'll be saving money, too.
6. Go off the grid, if just a little bit. There are literally dozens of solar chargers on the market these days. Maybe one would be a great alternative to charge your iPod, cell phone or other portable device. Every little bit helps, and it will help us to get to a place where these devices are more common and more easily used.
So that's a start. Got any eco-friendly resolutions of your own? Post them in the comments! And have a happy, safe and green New Year!