Environment at Home: Make small changes this year

Special to Idaho StatesmanJanuary 1, 2007 

Most of us have probably broken nearly as many New Year's resolutions as we've made, and it's probably because we aim too high.

If you resolve to never eat sweets again, to run 20 miles a day or get your doctoral degree before spring, you're just setting yourself up for failure. Changing the way we do things — who we are — is difficult

It's best to take small steps. Fortunately, when it comes to saving natural resources, cutting pollution and reducing waste, small steps are enough.

One of the things I'm really going to crack down on myself for this year is water use. I like long showers. I tend to run the water when I brush my teeth and do the dishes. It's wrong. I know it's wrong and yet … I forget.

This year, I resolve to be a water miser.

Here are some other easy tips for greener resolutions.

• Be an active recycler and re-user. Don't toss something in the trash just because the recycling bin is out in the garage. Donate to thrift stores and buy things there.

• Do little things around the house. Compact fluorescent bulbs, programmable thermostats and low-flow showerheads are simple savers. Weather striping and caulking is a bit more labor, but worth it.

• Walk or bike. According to Conservation International, 80 percent of the car trips in the United States occur within 8 miles of home, and 40 percent are within 2 miles. Even if the actual percentages are half of those estimates, that's a lot of wasted gas and new air pollution. A couple of miles sounds like a long ways, but you might be surprised how fast you could walk or bike the distance.

• Stop buying bottled water. Bring your own water bottle and fill it up from the tap or a water cooler. You will save on plastic and money. The same goes for coffee; bring your own mug. I have a great mug that is a French press and holds extra coffee in the bottom so I don't even need a coffee shop.

• Cut down on plastic bags. Buy canvas ones and use them.

• Pick up some litter. It's hard to believe anybody actually litters, but they do it a lot. Resolve to pick up at least one piece of garbage a day.

• Make earth-friendly consumer choices. Buy recycled paper products and non-toxic cleaners. Invest in rechargeable batteries. Purchase higher-quality, longer lasting items.

• Pay attention. Examine what you do each day — where you drive, what you buy, what you use — and think about how it fits into issues such as clean air and water, the climate, wildlife habitat and the other wonders of nature that we affect every day.

Do you have an idea or tip for our weekly Environment at Home column? Let us know. Send an e-mail to Local@IdahoStatesman.com with subject line "Enviro at Home."

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