Green New Year’s Resolutions | What Areas of Your Life Could Be Greener?

Writing the Green Living column for the last year has been a great opportunity for me to look at my own life and identify areas that could use a little greening. Here are some areas I want to focus on in the coming year.

1. Stop taking out my garbage. I don’t actually plan to let the garbage pile up in my house. I just plan to make as little as possible. The small amount of garbage my family of four produces each week consists mainly of non-recyclable food packaging, tissues (we have a lot of allergy sufferers), and a few other disposable goods. It’s time to cut back further on packaged food, start using reusable versions of certain items (safety razor instead of disposables, cloth pads, etc.) and it’s definitely time for the nose blowers to switch to cloth handkerchiefs.

2. Eliminate all plastic bags from my house. I hate plastic bags, and when I switched to reusable shopping bags I thought I was finished with them. But I had forgotten about produce bags and bread bags. Baking my own bread and getting some reusable produce bags is my goal for 2009.

3. Let the sun shine . . . on the solar oven I plan to build and use. Eliminating food packaging means making more food from scratch, which currently means increasing my electricity use. With a solar oven, I can cook almost anything when the sun is shining!

4. Get a toaster oven and a crock pot. The sun doesn’t always shine in Iowa, so for the times that I can’t use a solar oven, I need to use less energy-sucking options for my cooking.

5. Go 100 percent fluorescent. I have already replaced my most frequently used bulbs with CFLs; now it’s time to go all the way.  

6. Let it all hang out—on a clothesline or drying rack, that is. Currently, my drying capacity is one small load of laundry. With the acquisition of more indoor drying racks and the installation of an outdoor line in the spring (landlord willing), I hope to be able to hang all my laundry to dry every time. Goodbye, electric drier!

7. Junk the junk mail. I haven’t bothered to get my name removed from any mailing lists because it didn’t seem like I was on any lists anyway. But they finally found me. Time to get off the junk mail express.

8. Spend more time outside. I don’t want to be one of those Americans who spend 90 percent of their time inside anymore. Green living isn’t just about the health of the earth; it’s about our individual health as well.

9. Actually plant a garden in the spring. Alas, with all the rain this spring I never did get to complete the time-consuming process of building new garden beds. But I built four 80-square-foot beds this fall and my garden will be planted this coming spring, rainy weather or not.

10. Cut back even further on my driving. In 2008 I moved to a house one block from my children’s new school, eliminating 75 percent of my driving, but I still find myself driving to work, which is only seven blocks from my house. It’s time to leave the car at home and get walking.

11. Increase my participation in Alliant Energy’s Second Nature program to 100 percent. When you participate in the Second Nature Program, Alliant Energy buys energy from renewable resources. This is in addition to the percentage that they are already required by law to purchase. Currently, I am only participating at a 25 percent level because I wanted to see how much my electric bill would go up. The answer? Not much. Installing solar panels and a windmill where I live is outside my means. Paying Alliant Energy to buy renewable energy in amounts equivalent to the electricity I use every month is not.

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What earth-friendly changes have you made in the last year? What areas of your life could use a little greening in 2009? I’d love to hear about your green New Year’s resolutions. Send them to me at

Happy New Year! 

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