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50 Nifty Ways to Green 2010

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Resolutions are easy to make and even easier to abandon. Righteousness gives way to guilt as my commitments fall by the wayside: disappointment clouds every February and leads me to reject my resolutions entirely in favor of a better year eleven months hence. It's a vicious cycle indeed. This year I've made a list for myself with options both small and substantial. (Some, marked (*) are even more challenging.) Since it's always easier to make sacrifices for those we love, I figured I would point all of my goodness towards Mother Earth. Join me--try one or all of these options, with the knowledge that every effort will make a difference. But be warned: this isn't your typical 'change your light bulbs' list. Some of these altercations may seem truly esoteric, but I promise, they're worthwhile. Consider it a resolution writ large, with lots of wiggle room. Pick one or several. Either way, you won't disappoint yourself.

1. Be lazy. Do less. Learn to revel in nothingness. Watch the clouds. Loaf a bit. Take a long stroll with no goals in mind. See how content you can be without producing or consuming anything.

2. If you're a man, pee outside. Make sure nobody's looking.

3. Use less toilet paper--careful folding is not that hard and needn't be messy. Make sure every paper product you use comes from recycled material.

4. Don't flush your pills--your hormone treatments, antidepressants, downers, uppers, erection-makers, etc. will end up in the public drinking water. Be a good citizen and hope others do the same.

5. Stop buying products with chemicals: opt for organic cleaners, soaps, lotions, etc. Nobody wants to drink Nair runoff, either.

6. Pick up an outdoor sport that doesn't require driving to and fro.

7. This winter, go cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing.

8. This summer, go bird watching.

9. Toss dryer lint outdoors--birds will use it for nesting.

10. Cut out the joy rides: don't drive if you have no destination.

11. Collect vintage clothes.

12. Collect antiques.

13. Take your favorite people (young ones especially) to visit a farm.

14. Teach a kid to cook something simple and seasonal.

15. Learn a seasonal dish from somebody whose cooking you admire.

16. Become a regular at farmers' markets: aim to get so close to your local growers that they ask where you've been if you miss a week. * Start a co-op with friends and neighbors.

17. Buy bulk and fill reusable containers. Ball jars are charming--have your grocery store weigh yours beforehand so you don't pay for its heft.

18. Stop buying food that comes in little packages: for example, opt for larger containers of yogurt instead of multiple tiny cups.

19. Aim to make at least 50% of your diet local and seasonal. *Try the 100 mile diet.

20. This winter, grow your own herbs, starting with everyday ingredients like parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano and mint. A few terracotta pots sprouting green will really spiff up your kitchen.

21. This spring, plant a front yard garden. You will enjoy showing off to your neighbors come July, and you'll probably want some takers for all of the tomatoes and zucchini you'll have on hand.

22. This winter, bundle up and turn down the heat. *Use a wood-burning fire only.

23. This summer, strip down and turn down the AC. *Use fans only.

24. Wash colors separately in cold water, but dry them all at once. If you have to dry two loads, do them one after the other to make use of residual heat. *Recycle your drier and string a clothesline. While you're at it, give away both appliances in favor of a washboard and wooden tub. (FYI: I will be keeping my washer dryer through 2010.)

25. BYO lunch, silverware, coffee mugs and water bottles. If you forgot your Thermos at home, forgo the Starbucks. Or stay put and drink from one of their glass mugs.

26. Invest in a good water filter and bring water wherever you go.

27. Don't order takeout. Either dine-in or cook for yourself.

28. Cook more, especially on your stove top or grill. Don't be afraid to cook small items in a toaster oven.

29. Recycle old batteries. If you do nothing else, please do this.

30. Turn off your TV. *Recycle your TV.

31. Downsize your car. * Give up your car.

32. Downsize yourself.

33. Kill your electronic Vampires. Turn off your cell at night and unplug electronics from the wall when not in use--they suck power even when they're off.

34. Keep your car tuned and tires filled.

35. Buy a bicycle with a basket and use it for local errands or trips.

36. Shower with your special someone. Or at the very least, get out of the shower, fast: a conventional shower head uses up to 10 gallons a minute. *Pee in the shower--but only if you're alone.

37. Turn the faucet off when you shave or brush your teeth. (Women: this is a good time to do your leave-in conditioning...)

38. Buy better: research all of the companies you support. There are lots of ways to do it, including through the Carbon Disclosure Project.

39. Buy less of everything.

40. Get creative with gift-wrapping, card-writing and letterhead.

41. Stop smoking.

42. Plant a tree and sew some native wildflowers.

43. Go camping...close to home.

44. Cut back on trips that require flying, and offset your trip when possible.

45. Put a stop to junk mail and solicitations.

46. Share magazine subscriptions *Cancel them and catch up at the library.

47. Get inspired to spend time outside: read Mary Oliver, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost.

48. Picnic at a local park and leave it cleaner than you found it.

49. Volunteer at your local community garden, arboretum or park. You know you want to call yourself a trailblazer.

50. Move out of the suburbs. Live in an apartment building or on a farm.

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