Green Living – New Year, Green You!

Learn a few easy steps that will minimize your impact on the environment.

“I will exercise more.” “I will spend more time with family and friends.” “I will lose weight.” Most of us make New Year’s resolutions each year, vowing to improve our lives and ourselves. But who makes New Year’s resolutions for our natural resources, our open spaces and our environment?

Just before last year ended, the Graduate Green Living Program here at Harvard University conducted an energy pledge competition and asked participants to contribute their favorite suggestions for minimizing their impact on the environment. We received 450 different suggestions and tips!

Here are a few that you can add to your list of resolutions for the year and make a bigger difference for your community and beyond.

Save energy.
Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs. They last much longer than regular light bulbs and will save you money. Close your blinds at night to keep in the heat and and put on a sweater. You may not even notice a difference! Wash your clothes in cold water as much as you can. This saves lots of energy and money.

Conserve water.
Run full loads of laundry. Two small loads use almost twice as much energy as one large load! Only run the dishwasher when full and the washing machines at off peak hours.

Reduce your use of disposables.
Use metal cutlery and china when dining in Spangler or the Grille. Only take the amount of napkins that you really need. How many times have we seen someone grab a whole stack of napkins only to leave it on the table or toss the whole lot away?

Eat healthy and well.
Try to eat cooked vegetables and fruits that are in season. Buy locally grown food to support local farmers and try not to support mass production of pesticide and herbicide infused food that travels by truck across thousands of miles. When packing lunches, use reusable containers and bring your own water in a nalgene bottle instead of buying bottled water.

Although you think that you are probably recycling as well as other residents of your building, take a look and make sure you are maximizing your own recycling. Are you aware of what is recyclable and not?

Drive less.
Walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation as much as you can. Skip one car trip each week.

Inspire others.
Encourage at least two friends or family members to take action in addition to yourself!

Take this opportunity, with the start of a brand new year, to broaden your New Year’s resolutions by adding some green.