10 Green New Year’s Resolutions for 2013

If you are like millions of Americans, you have either made or will make a New Year’s resolution for 2013. This year make your resolution a green one. Try one of the following 10 green New Year’s Resolutions or come up with your own.

BYORWB

Just say NO to bottled water and bring your own reusable water bottle (BYORWB) wherever you go.

CSA Organic StrawberriesSupport Your Local Farmer

Become a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) member or purchase a CSA share. Enjoy delicious, healthy, fresh-picked, seasonal produce and other products while getting to know and support a local farmer or two. Up the ante and buy organic.

Kick the Bag Habit

If you have not already converted to reusable bags for grocery marketing and shopping, there is no time like the present. Then the next time you are asked the question, “paper or plastic?” You can proudly say, “Neither” and whip out your reusable bags.

Engage in Efficiency

Tackle an energy or water efficiency project or two. Install a programmable thermostat (or learn to use the one you have) then set it at 68°F in the winter and 78°F in summer. Seal air leaks in your home yourself or ask someone else to help you do it. Save water and money by installing a low-flow showerhead in every shower in your home.

You Can Compost

Stainless Steel Compost PailGo outside your comfort zone and start composting. With a small investment and a few minutes a day you will be astonished at how much waste is diverted from your garbage disposal and trash can. There are many rewards. You can reduce waste, water, and energy, nurture your garden (or someone else’s), learn new things, and feel a sense of accomplishment for taking positive action. Even squeamish people, like me, can compost.

What’s Fair is Fair

Use your buying power to promote equality in trade and safeguard the environment. Make a choice to switch one or more items you normally buy to a brand that carries the Fair Trade label.

Pedometer with Tape Measure10,000 Steps

You know walking is good for the environment and good for you so as the saying goes “just do it.” If you are not used to walking much then set an interim goal of say 3,000 steps a day and work up to 10,000 or more. An inexpensive pedometer will help you keep track of your steps.

Brown is Beautiful

Start buying unbleached (yes brown or beige) napkins, paper towels, facial tissue, and toilet paper made with recycled paper fibers with minimum packaging that is made from recycled material. Try various brands until you find one that meets your standards for quality and price. Better yet stop buying paper towels, napkins, and facial tissue and switch to their reusable counterparts.

Shop Smart

Everything we buy uses resources and impacts the environment during production, transportation, storage, distribution, disposal, and even recycling. Make a pledge to yourself to shop smart by thinking twice before you buy more stuff.

Pay It Forward

Action Clapboard - Call to ActionTake action. Get the word out. Share your knowledge. Engage your family and friends in dialogue about green topics. Talk with your boss and coworkers. Work on green projects. Begin a blog. Write or call your local, state, and national elected officials. Make a video or podcast and post it online. Create a website. Join and participate in a green organization or start your own.

The New Year is a time for new beginnings so what better way to start off the New Year than taking personal action to adopt a sustainable way of living, working, and sharing the earth.

Already living a green, people and planet friendly lifestyle? Tackle a challenging green project you have been putting off.

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Green Travel — Airport Water Bottle Empty and Refill Stations

Author's Reusable Water BottleAirport water bottle emptying and refilling stations make it easy for travelers to use their reusable water bottle and skip buying bottled water at the airport.

I am a committed reusable water bottle user but have to admit that air travel does add complexity to using it.

Passengers can take empty plastic and aluminum bottles through security checkpoints. They key word is empty. I usually leave the house with a full bottle and sprinkle any remaining water on the parking lot plants before going inside the airport. A few times while standing in the security checkpoint line, I’ve remembered I forgot to empty my bottle. I really like my reusable water bottle and would not want to give it up at the security checkpoint or cause a delay in line, so I’ve gotten out of line and emptied it in a drinking fountain or restroom sink.

After making it through the security checkpoint it can be difficult to find a public drinking fountain to refill my reusable water bottle, especially in an unfamiliar airport. Filling a water bottle with the trickle that most drinking fountains seem to produce is not easy.

Waste Reduction

Per a survey by AAA, holiday air travel is expected to increase 4.5 percent over last year to 5.6 million travelers in 2012. Even if just 50% of the travelers purchased a 16-ounce bottle of water at the airport, that would be 2,800,000 plastic bottles which is a lot of plastic waste to deal with for only one item and over just a 2-week period. Imagine how many plastic bottles are thrown away in a year. Even if people throw the empty bottle in the recycling bin, the airport still has to deal with collecting it and disposing of it.

Water Bottle Refill Station at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson AirportThe main reason airports are installing water bottle emptying and refilling stations is to encourage people to bring and use reusable water bottles and thereby reduce plastic bottle waste. The benefit for airport users is secondary.

The Chicago Department of Aviation estimates that each refill station will be used to refill approximately 100,000 water bottles annually, saving approximately 29 tons of trash from going to landfills, and saving approximately 17,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. Some refill stations have counters to let users now how many 16-ounce plastic bottles have been saved from landfills.

Save Time and Hassle

Liquid Disposal Station Chicago O'Hare AirportWater bottle emptying or liquid disposal stations are placed near security checkpoint line entrances. This makes it fast and easy for passengers to empty their reusable water bottles and other liquids. The upfront reminder to empty liquids helps minimize delays and hassles that are caused by passengers carrying liquids in containers over 3-ounces.

For relatively low cost, water bottle refilling or hydration stations can be installed near the exit of security checkpoints or existing drinking fountains can often be retrofitted with refill units. Most refilling stations offer easy hands-free use. Users place their empty bottle on the unit in front of a sensor and it is automatically refilled.

On a future trip, I look forward to trying out water bottle emptying and refill stations. A growing number of airports are installing the units in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago to name a few.

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