There are many ways to make the New Year greener and healthier. Just making a few small changes can have a great impact on the planet and personal health. There are many easy changes to implement into daily life to make the world a greener place.
Composting: Building a compost pile as a homeowner is an easy way to add many beneficial ingredients to the soil while reducing garbage volume at the same time. It can also benefit the community by reducing the nearly 25% of compostable landfill waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Recycle paper and electronics: Recycling is beneficial in many ways and can be a convenient and an environmentally conscious step in the coming year. Anything from paper and plastics to metals and electronics can be recycled. This can save on the consumption of resources, the amount of landfill space being used and energy use. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled, the rest of these electronics go directly into landfills and incinerators, causing dangerous heavy metals and toxins to build up with serious environmental risks.
Go plastic free: Get rid of plastic once and for all this year by switching to reusable whenever possible. One way to save money and protect our environment from the harmful effects of plastics and the chemicals used and the emissions given off in producing them is to use reusable stainless steel water bottles and always carry cloth grocery bags anytime you are shopping.
Plant a garden: With the smallest amount of outdoor space, a garden can produce a wide variety of nutritious foods. Gardening can bring you back to nature while providing you and your family fresh wholesome foods with many benefits. If you don�t have room, consider a container garden or small herb garden to enhance your culinary experience.
Laundry: Whenever doing laundry, make sure it is a full load and wash clothes in cold water using a safe non-toxic laundry soap and hang clothes to dry for a clean, fresh and environmentally friendly way to do your laundry in 2012.
Support local farmers and eat in season: Most grocery store food has been picked in the fields, sent to distribution centers and shipped thousands of miles before ever hitting your grocery store shelf. In contrast, when you purchase from local farmers, you are not only putting a face with your food, but your food has been picked within a day or two of purchasing, making it ripe and delicious. Buying fresh local food has many advantages, including reduced vehicle pollution and packaging needed, while encouraging fresh and often-times organic and pesticide-free produce for better nutrition.
Unplug appliances and electronics: When it is time for an upgrade, consider purchasing new energy efficient models with an Energy Star label that guarantees that the product is energy efficient. If you are not in the position to purchase a new appliance, unplug the one you have if and when it is not needed or in use.
Turn it off: Turn the water off while brushing teeth and the lights off every time you leave the room. Consider purchasing low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators and energy efficient CFL or LED light bulbs.
Use eco-friendly cleaning products: With just a few common household items, you can make your own cleaning products when you need them. Making your own cleaning products with ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon and tea tree oil can save you money, time and the packaging required for the store-bought brands. Homemade cleaners are also safer and healthier when using non-toxic ingredients.
Never purchase paper towels or napkins again: Instead, use old washcloths cut into smaller squares, old socks for dusting, old t-shirts cut up for cleaning and reusable cloth napkins and hand-towels while out and about.
Borrow or buy used: Borrow your books, music and movies from your local library to save money while cutting down on the paper and ink needed to manufacture new. Set up online accounts with Ebay, freecycle.org or shop thrift stores and garage sales when looking for anything from clothing to furniture.