A white Christmas is nice, but if you're dreaming of a "green" new year, there are easy ways to make it a reality.
St. Lawrence University Sustainability Coordinator Louise Gava conducts voluntary "green" audits of students' residence hall rooms, and encourages taking steps that are easy to stick to - if the task is too overwhelming, it becomes tempting to skip it. With that in mind, here's a list of "eco-resolutions" that anyone can keep.
Reduce excess consumption by making a card that says "Do I REALLY NEED it? Only 1% of the things we buy are still in use six months after their date of sale." Put the card in your wallet with whatever source of money you use most (cash, credit/debit card, check) and when you go to pay, make sure you can answer "yes" to the question before you buy.
The world's not fair, but that doesn't mean your coffee can't be. At home and at the office, fill that coffee pot with organic fair trade coffee to benefit the Earth and our farmers.
Ditch your car. No matter where you live, there is at least one place that you visit on a regular basis that you can walk or bike to instead of drive. Cut carbon emissions, save money and get your legs moving. Pick a place that you will NOT drive to all year, regardless of the weather (ask for a gift of good rain gear, a sun hat or winter boots for the holidays).
Reduce the energy use associated with heating and cooling your residence the easy way: purchase a programmable thermostat and set it to automatically adjust the temperature of your residence so you are not heating or cooling it when no one is around.
Try "Meatless Mondays" by going vegetarian each Monday. You'll be doing your part to reduce air and water pollution, deforestation and impacts of climate change. It's easier to stick to than you think - mac and cheese, anybody?
Buy no new incandescent lights. Buy only compact fluorescent light bulbs for your home and business. And don't forget to find out where and how to recycle them.
Paper or Plastic? Neither! Make the pledge to bring your own bag(s) when you go shopping. Forgetful? Keep them in your car (or on your bike) so they will always be with you even if you make an unexpected stop.
Buying all organic food is more expensive than most budgets can handle. Pick one item, like milk, and purchase only organic.
It's the new year, not Halloween, so kick that "phantom load!" Plug electronics, such as televisions, computers and chargers that draw current even when they are turned off, into powerstrips and get in the habit of turning off the powerstrip when you aren't using it.
If "sustainability," "climate change" and "peak oil" are just buzzwords to you, resolve to do a bit of research and become educated on one of the most important issues facing our world and what you can do to help.
More: The Green Pages at St. Lawrence
Posted: December 17, 2008