By Rita R. Robison
Is going green among your New Year’s resolutions for 2012?
If so, the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization, has these suggestions for you:
Put a separate container next to your trash can or printer, making it easier to recycle your bottles, cans, and paper.
2. Turn off the lights
Turn off lights during bright daylight, or whenever you’ll be away for an extended period of time.
3. Make the switch
Use compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs because they use only 20 to 30 percent of the energy required by incandescents to create the same amount of light, and light emitting diodes or LEDs use only 10 percent, helping reduce both electric bills and carbon emissions.
4. Turn on the tap
Fill up your glasses and reusable water bottles with tap water.
5. Turn down the heat
Turn down your thermostat when you leave for work, or use a programmable thermostat to control your heating settings.
6. Support food recovery programs
Encourage your local restaurants and grocery stores to partner with food rescue organizations, such as City Harvest in New York City or Second Harvest Heartland in Minnesota. Go through your cabinets and shelves and donate any non-perishable canned and dried foods that you won't be using to your nearest food bank or shelter.
7. Buy local
Consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat instead of relying only on large supermarkets. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers.
8. Get out and ride
Use your city's bike share program to run short errands or commute to work if one is available in your community. Check out Bike Belong.org to find a listing of bike sharing programs in the United States. Take advantage of the bike lanes many cities and towns are providing, making it easier and safer to use your bike for transportation and recreation.
9. Share a car
Join a car share program. See Zipcar.com for information on car share programs in the U.S.
10. Plant a garden
Start by planting some lettuce in a window box. Lettuce seeds are inexpensive. When planted in full sun, one window box can provide enough lettuce to make numerous salads throughout a season. Move on to planting seedlings in pots on your patio. Next, investigate where in your yard you could create a raised bed garden.
See websites such as HowToCompost.org, which provide easy steps to reuse your organic waste.
12. Reduce your meat consumption
Cut down on the amount of meat you consume by substituting one meal day with a vegetarian option. Websites such as Meatless Monday and Eating Well offer many vegetarian recipes that are healthy for you and the environment.
For more and more people across the world, the impacts of hunger, poverty, and climate change are felt every day, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Simple practices, such as recycling or riding a bike, can have great impact on making 2012 a healthier, happier, and greener year for all.