GREEN LIVING COLUMN
BASIC GREEN LIVING RESOLUTIONS FOR 2012:
By Wong Ee Lynn
1. Pledge to REDUCE CONSUMPTION AND WASTE. Look at your purchases for the last 6 months and decide what purchases were unnecessary and should be reduced or eliminated in the coming year. Shop less and do more. Observe Buy Nothing Day at least once a month. Choose products with the least packaging. Reduce food wastage by using up food before they go bad, relying on a shopping list and keeping track of leftovers and items in your fridge and pantry. Join a library. Read magazines and newspapers online. Have your bills, invoices and newsletters sent to you via email and terminate the hard copy subscription for the same. Try to reduce your waste to the point that you only need to take out the trash once a week. Separate and recycle discarded items. Set up a compost bin for garden and kitchen waste. Reuse, recycle, repair and refurbish whenever possible. Set goals for yourself -- for example, if you enjoy shopping, try going one month without purchasing a new
item of clothing. Then gradually increase it to 2 months, and then 3. Bring your own drinking water, food containers and shopping bags whenever you go out.
2. Pledge to REDUCE ELECTRICITY USAGE. Have a look at your current electricity bill. Set yourself the goal of reducing it by 10% by the following month. Switch off appliances at the source and when not in use. Don't leave chargers on once an appliance has finished charging. Reduce the usage of air conditioning units. Adjust the temperature on your air-conditioning units and refrigerators. Have faulty refrigerator door seals replaced. Do not buy substandard and unnecessary electrical appliances and gadgets. Reduce the amount of time you spend watching television or playing video/computer games. Opt for non-electronic weighing scales, exercise equipment and household equipment.
3. Pledge to REDUCE WATER WASTAGE. Have a look at your current water bill. Set yourself the goal of reducing it by 10% by the following month. Repair leaky taps and pipes. Do not leave taps running when doing cleaning chores, showering or brushing your teeth. Collect rainwater for use. Reuse water used for soaking vegetables and rice grains for watering the plants. Use less detergent when doing housework, so you will need less water for rinsing. Do not use the toilet flush to dispose of rubbish. Use a broom and dustpan, and not running water from the hose, to clean your driveway and porch. Run your washing machine and dishwasher only on a full load.
4. Pledge to INCREASE FUEL ECONOMY. Collect your fuel receipts for the past week. Set yourself the goal of reducing it by 10% by the following month. Cut down on unnecessary trips, and combine errands and trips whenever possible. Take public transport or walk and cycle to as many destinations as you can. Do not leave your engine idling while waiting. Switch off your engine if you are going to have to wait for more than 2 minutes. Clear your car of unnecessary weight by removing items you do not need. Keep your car well-serviced and get the necessary maintenance work done. Check your oil and water levels at least once a week to ensure your car performs at optimum level and to reduce wear and tear. Plan your trips so that you do not get stuck in peak hour traffic.
5. Pledge to LEAD A LESS TOXIC LIFESTYLE. Be knowledgeable about the products you are purchasing. Opt for biodegradable cleaning solutions and personal care products, especially those made using natural ingredients. Eliminate the use of chemical pesticides and insecticides, and replace them with natural essential oils such as citronella and lemongrass. Do not use herbicides in your garden, but apply rock salt to weed-prone areas instead. Replace chemical disinfectants and deodorisers with tea tree oil, lavender oil or peppermint oil. Purchase a multi-purpose organic cleaning agent to use for different purposes (e.g. cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floor, cleaning the windows) instead of one cleaning agent for each purpose. Better yet, make your own cleaning agents out of plant enzymes, vinegar or baking soda. Deodorise your car or bathroom with sliced lime, pandan leaves or unwrapped bars of natural soap, instead of with chemical deodorisers.
6. Pledge to VOLUNTEER MORE. Read your newspapers and NGO newsletters to keep yourself informed of volunteer opportunities. Contact the organisers as soon as you can confirm your participation so that they will be able to include you in carpooling arrangements. Be a sensible and helpful volunteer -- Wear appropriate clothes and bring your own drinking water, medication or first aid kit and sunblock if necessary. Find out more about the work you are expected to assist with so you know what to expect, how to get to the destination, and what skills you are able to offer. Some NGOs, residents' associations, animal shelters and other facilities require volunteers on a regular basis, for example, to provide tuition classes for underprivileged children, to sort out recyclables, to do paperwork and data entry or to carry out animal care work. Determine the amount of time you are able to devote and include it in your schedule. Have the self-discipline to turn up
at the same time on a regular basis and complete a certain amount of work (e.g. Provide 2 hours of tuition? Collect 10 bags of rubbish? Bathe 10 animals? Clean a particular facility? Plant 50 trees?) before you leave.
7. STICK AT IT -- The most important resolution you can make is to remain determined to carry through with all the resolutions you have made. If you have slipped once or twice, try to get back on track as soon as you can. Ultimately, even the best of intentions will amount to nothing if you are unable to follow up with measurable action.