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5 Ways to Become Eco-friendly

09/13/2013 11:35 am ET | Updated Nov 13, 2013

This year was the first time I have ever made a New Year's resolution. Some years I didn't have anything I thought was substantial enough to make a resolution about, but most times I would think of resolutions mid-year and didn't want to wait until Dec. 31 to make a formal promise about my behavior. This year though, I had great timing and just before New Year's Eve, I decided that I had mastered being vegan and was ready to challenge myself and my ethics in a new way. My resolution was to be more eco-friendly, or as popular culture has dubbed it, "green." However, instead of buying LED light bulbs or taking showers less often, I developed a set of my own rules to play by. Below are five of the most useful tricks to (slowly but surely) become eco-friendly that you might not instantly think of:

Don't use wall chargers.

Rather than charging your phone at home or at work, plug it into a car charger while you are driving. For people like me who have a 2-3 hour commute everyday, there's plenty of time to use the power from your car to keep your phone running. Also, if you have an iPhone, the battery charges faster if you turn the phone off, which limits the amount of energy you are using and stops yourself from texting and driving. Double win!

Eat mostly raw.

I know this sounds crazy to a lot of people, but eating raw is a wonderful way to save electricity and gas. While there's a debate between whether using electric or gas-powered utilities is more eco-friendly, if you don't cook your food all together then you avoid wasting both. Also, raw fruits and veggies are said to be the healthiest foods in our diet, so you'll be making a wise eating choice at the same time.

Turn the shower off when you're lathering up.

There's no need to have the water running at full speed when you're shampooing your hair, scrubbing your body or shaving. Turn the faucet off during these times as well as while brushing your teeth and then turn it back on to rinse off. There's something about doing this that makes you feel cleaner, I promise, and you'll be surprised how much money and water you'll be saving.

Invest in a bike.

And don't be lazy. I don't drive my car anywhere around my neighborhood or on the weekends. I ride my bike and I walk. I understand that not everyone lives three blocks from the grocery store and across the street from a coffee shop, but there are weekends that I have gone to several different locations around my neighborhood (the liquor store, to lunch, to get groceries, to exercise, etc.) that weren't just a short stroll away. This is great for cutting back on gas emissions, such as when you are sitting in your car at a red light and limiting the pollution in our air.

Light candles instead of lamps.

When I get home in the evening I try my best not to turn on lamps. Instead I use candles to see what I'm cooking and reading, and to just lounge about. When it gets really dark and the candlelight is no longer sufficient, I go to bed. This cuts back on electricity use and I'm obviously a well-rested individual. Of course, you should make sure that your candles are made out of soy wax rather than paraffin wax, as the latter is actually more detrimental to the environment than light bulbs.

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