PENCINTA ALAM DECEMBER 2013
GREEN LIVING COLUMN
GREEN LIVING COLUMN
GREEN RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR
2013 will soon come to an end, and whether or not you are in the habit of making New Year resolutions, there is never a better time than today to start taking action to reduce pollution and carbon emissions and conserve energy and resources. Here are some suggestions that you may wish to consider or improvise on, if they are not already part of your lifestyle:
1. RESOLVE TO GREEN YOUR DIET.
Start with a resolution to cook at least four meals a week in your home from fresh, organic ingredients. A vegan diet has the smallest carbon footprint, followed by a vegetarian diet. If you are not already vegetarian, try going vegetarian once a week, and slowly increase it to every other meal. Cutting meat out of your diet just two days a week can decrease your carbon footprint by about 1/3 of a tonne — and coming up with meat-free meals for Saturday and Sunday isn't as hard as it sounds. Visit a local organic farm or organic grocery store, or subscribe to an organic veggie box delivery service if one is available in your residential area. The benefits are almost immediate. A study conducted by scientists at Emory University and the University of Washington revealed that children eating conventional diets all tested positive for common pesticides in their systems. Within a week of switching to an organic diet, the pesticides in their bodies dropped to undetectable levels. When the children switched back to their conventional diets, pesticide levels rose too.
2. RESOLVE TO GREEN YOUR TRANSPORT.
Consider going without a car – you’ll not only save money on the purchase, you’ll save on insurance and maintenance. If it’s impractical to completely give up driving due to safety and other practicality considerations, try to carpool or take alternative transportation – such as a bike or bus. Or seek out the most fuel-efficient vehicle you can afford. Plan your errands and trips to reduce the distance you have to drive. If you do drive, make sure your car is serviced regularly to ensure optimum performance and fuel efficiency.
3. GREEN YOUR DRINKING WATER.
Trade your bottled water habit for an at-home filter system and you can help make a dent in the 1.5 million barrels of oil used to make plastic water bottles each year. Pair it with a reusable bottle (like one made of glass, aluminum, or BPA-free recycled plastic), and you'll always be prepared to tackle your thirst. Remember to bring your refillable water bottle along with you whenever you leave the house (together with your reusable shopping bags and food takeout containers). Impose a "fine" on family members who forget and end up buying bottled water.
4. ELIMINATE 5 DISPOSABLE OR HEAVILY PACKAGED ITEMS FROM YOUR SHOPPING LIST.
When you stop buying paper kitchen towels and wet wipes, you will have to make a habit out of using washable rags and handkerchiefs. When you cut single-serve packaged items such as individual packets of cereal and 3-in-1 coffee mix out of your shopping list, you will have to make a habit out of making breakfast and beverages from scratch or pour from a bulk container. Often, we reach for heavily-packaged and wasteful items merely because they are within reach and convenient. Therefore, make some adjustments to your life and lifestyle to reduce waste.
5. GREEN YOUR SHOPPING.
Give up paper and plastic bags. Twelve million barrels of oil were used to make the 88.5 billion plastic bags given out in the United States last year. And it takes four times more energy to make paper bags.The best choice is reusable shopping bags made of cotton, nylon or durable, mesh-like plastic. Put a few reusable shopping bags in your car so you have them handy on your next shopping trip. And if you happen to forget your reusable bag, choose paper if you will recycle it or plastic if you will reuse or recycle it. To help you remember to bring your shopping bags with you, here is the link to the July 2011 Green Living column: http://mnsgreenliving.blogspot.com/2012/04/8-tips-to-help-you-remember-your.html
6. GREEN YOUR ENERGY USE.
Increase the temperature on your office air-conditioning unit by 2 degrees, and switch it off 1 hour earlier than you normally do. If you absolutely need air conditioners at home, buy a high-efficiency air conditioner with Energy Star rating. Maintain your air conditioners properly to maximize efficiency. Clean the filters every month if you use it frequently. Normal dust build-up can reduce airflow by 1% per week. Do not use a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder. For more energy conservation tips, visit the Green Living blog at: http://mnsgreenliving.blogspot.com/2012/04/energy-conservation-tips.html
7. GREEN YOUR SPENDING.
Pick out 3 items you can give up this year for environmental and economic reasons. This can include driving to the gym (instead, jog or cycle around the neighbourhood), buying more electronic gadgets, and having 2 cars (instead, one spouse can drop the other off at work on his/her way to the office). Where gift-giving is concerned, try substituting consumer gifts for experience gifts such as concert tickets, tickets to the rock-climbing gym, and camping trips. Do the simpler version of the 100-Thing Challenge. Instead of paring all your possessions down to an austere 100 items, go around your house and pick out 100 items you can donate to charity, repair, refill, reuse or recycle.
The Green Living Special Interest Group would like to thank all our readers, volunteers and supporters for your encouragement and assistance, and we wish all of you a very happy, sustainable and environmentally-responsible New Year 2014!