Courtesy of Mother Nature Network's 10 easy, green New Year's resolutions for the eco-slacker by Blythe Copeland, the eco-challenged amongst us can earn some green street cred. The complete list is below with some added Bermuda-relevant comments. (Please note: The links within the article will open in the same window. Life is too short for me to change that. The links in my comments will open in a new window.)
1. Never buy bottled water again
Trade your bottled water habit for an at-home filtering pitcher 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 recycled plastic), and you'll always be prepared to tackle your thirst. Bonus: With bottled water no longer on your shopping list, you could save as much as $1,400 this year.
I thoroughly enjoy my water with bubbles in it but I can appreciate the point made here.
2. Brew your own Fair Trade coffee
Carrying your own coffee in an insulated travel mug helps you reduce waste from cardboard cups and carrying sleeves — which are thrown away at a staggering rate of58 billion each year. For greener at-home brewing, choose a Fair Trade blend that supports farmers; add organic milk instead of artificial creamers; and try a French press(instead of a traditional brewer) to save electricity.
Rock Island Coffee will take some pennies off the cost of your cup of java if you show up with your own mug.
3. Remember your reusable bags
With more than 1 million plastic bags ending up in the trash every minute, taking reusable bags to the store is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint — but the hardest part about using them is simply remembering to take them with you. A set like this one from Blue Avocado is almost impossible to forget: It comes with six different bags, sized for everything from frozen goods to fresh fruit, and the entire collection folds down into a slim packet for easy transport.
Try keeping your reusable bags in the car. That means once you empty them in the kitchen, put them back in the car immediately! Keep one under your bike seat too.
4. Cut back on paper towels
If you're grabbing a paper towel for everything from wiping up spills and cleaning your counter to scrubbing the bathroom and keeping your hands clean at dinner, it's time tomake a change. Instead, invest in a few cotton cloths and some fabric napkins; then drop them in the wash when you run a load of laundry. Using the cloth alternatives is just as easy as using the paper versions, and you only need to buy them once — plus you can help eliminate the 3,000 tons of paper towels that end up landfills every day.
I am married to the world's worst consumer of paper towels. Necessity is the mother of invention, so perhaps I should just stop buying them.
5. Use a bike for short trips
It takes a certain amount of dedication to permanently give up a car in favor of a bike, but even an eco-slacker can make it work for short trips that don't require hauling a lot of stuff: picking up milk at the local grocery store, after-dinner ice cream at your favorite dessert spot, your morning yoga class, brunch with friends at the coffee shop. Ride your bike for trips shorter than 2 miles and you could cut your carbon footprint significantly, save money on gasoline and car maintenance, and increase your fitness level — all at the same time.
www.thegreenhousebermuda.com sells power assisted bicycles, which makes life much easier! Alternatively, the government might actually get the ferries back on track and properly functioning for commuters.
6. Order from your local CSA
Going to the farmer's market always sounds like such a great idea — until Saturday morning rolls around and you realize you have to get up early, have enough cash, and fight other customers for the best strawberries. Instead, have your local CSA programdo the hard part for you by putting together a box of their best produce each week — and, if you're really feeling lazy, have it delivered right to your door so you get fresh, local fruits and vegetables without giving up your lazy coffee-and-crossword mornings.
Wadson's Farm in Southampton has a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programme (best tasting organic chicken ever!). Click here for more information. If you sign-up late, I'm pretty sure they pro-rate the fee.
7. Become a weekend vegetarian
Cutting meat out of your diet just two days a week can decrease your carbon footprint by about 1/3 of a ton — and coming up with meat-free meals for Saturday and Sunday isn't as hard as it sounds. Try pancakes and fruit for breakfast; fresh salads or roasted vegetable sandwiches for lunch; and veggie pizza, bean soups, and creamy risottos for dinner. And since doubling a recipe rarely adds any time to your prep work, you can make extras to eat throughout the week (and trim your carbon footprint even more).
I had a vegetarian roommate for a year back in the day and that shifted me to a more or less meatless diet. It's tastier than you think and really not that difficult.
8. Eliminate phantom power
It takes approximately one second to unplug the charger for your cell phone, mp3 player, e-reader, or iPad — but if you really can't be bothered, then let nifty, energy-efficient gadgets do the work for you. Use power strips to turn off all your appliances at once; put your television, DVD player, game system, and stereo on a timer so they automatically shut off overnight; and invest in chargers that stop drawing current when the device's battery is full. You could cut your energy bill by as much as 10 percent annually — without lifting a finger.
Again, greenhousebermuda.com will conduct an audit of your house and advise on energy saving measures.
9. Switch to green power
Switching your home to run on green power sounds like a big job — installing solar panels, geothermal energy, or a tankless hot water heater is not a job for the construction-impaired. But you can also make this happen without getting out of your chair: Call your local energy company and see if they offer renewable options (most do). You might see a small jump in your bill, but it's an easy way to make a big change.
Contact Bermuda Engineering Company for your renewable solutions. I have friends using their solar solutions whose electricity bills are reduced by 50% or more.
10. Replace your lightbulbs
Replacing your lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lights may be the ultimate change for the eco-slacker. Despite all the jokes, it takes only one person to change a lightbulb — and since CFLs last longer than traditional bulbs, you'll be saving time for years down the road while cutting your energy use by as much as 80 percent. Can't even face the hardware store? Order your bulbs online and have them come straight to your door.