Liz Swafford: Ways to make 2015 better for you and the planet 

 

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 11:26 pm

We may not have much time before the New Year begins, but you can still make a resolution to make 2015 better for you and the planet. Not surprisingly many aspects of an eco-friendly life include things that are beneficial to both the planet and us. Choose one of the following 10 ways to make this year healthier and better. Even if you only change one thing in your life you’ll be making a positive impact. If we all choose to do one thing we can collectively make a big difference.

1. Drink less bottled water. Water in a plastic bottle is very useful and convenient when you’re on the go or experiencing an emergency, like not having running water in your home.  Plastic bottles for holding water and other drinks are single-use items that frequently end up in the trash. Instead of throwing away your plastic bottle when empty this year, choose to recycle it where available. Bottles that are recycled are remanufactured into a variety of products, from T-shirts to carpet.

2. Recycle plastic shopping bags. Perhaps you feel guilty about using plastic shopping bags to carry your groceries. Thankfully, plastic shopping bags that are clean and dry can be recycled if they’re placed in the plastic bag recycling bins found at the entrance of several retail locations. Along with the bags you can also recycle plastic film that is used to package rolls of paper towels, and toilet paper.

3. Use reusable shopping bags. If you don’t want to use plastic shopping bags you can take your own reusable bags to the store. Most retailers will gladly use your bags instead of their plastic ones. You could also use lightweight cloth bags or mesh bags to hold produce instead of the ones provided in the store. It’s easy to forget to take your bags to the store, but adding them to your shopping list, or stashing a few in your car, can help.

4. Make a recycling area. It’s easier to recycle when your whole family knows what can be recycled and where it should go. Select an area of the house, such as the garage or kitchen, that can be the general recycling area. Designate collection containers for recyclable materials accepted locally and label them with the item that should go inside. When the containers are full you can take the items to the appropriate recycling drop-off site.

5. Use less paper towels. Paper is made from trees, which are a renewable sustainable resource. Increasingly, more paper products are being made with recycled content, which means old paper was used to create new paper. But, paper towels are disposable, meaning more waste is going into the landfill. Instead you can use cloth dishtowels and napkins, which are reusable and washable.

6. Reduce waste before buying. Reducing waste before you buy means you consider what will happen to the product after you’re finished using it. Is the packaging recyclable? Is there a do-it-yourself version that you can make at home? Is it available in bulk? If the product is packaged in a way that leaves a lot of waste behind, choose a similar product that has recyclable packaging.

7. Walk or bike more. Walking and using a bicycle is good for your health and the planet.  Choosing to walk, run or bike instead of using a gas-powered vehicle helps reduce emissions that cause pollution. Get to know your neighborhood and make it a personal goal to walk to places that are a half-mile to a mile away.

8. Compost food waste. If you have a backyard you probably have room for a compost bin.  Composting is the process of converting a mixture of certain types of food waste and yard debris into a beneficial soil amendment that is key to growing better gardens.

9. Eliminate phantom power. Electronic devices, like laptops and cellphones, that are left plugged in after they have been completely charged continue to draw power. This power drain is sometimes called phantom power or vampire energy. Conserve energy by unplugging devices that are fully charged or on standby mode.

10. Replace light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs should be replaced after they burn out by CFL light bulbs, which last 10 times longer and consume about 75 percent less energy. CFL or compact fluorescent light bulbs, convert more energy into light than the incandescent, which produce a lot of heat and waste energy.

 

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