New Year’s environmental resolutions

Looking for a New Year's resolution that will make a difference? Consider some eco-choices for the New Year!

Most everyone makes resolutions for the New Year. Many are the same ones year-after-year while some are self-improvement challenges or for a cause to the greater good. Have you ever considered a resolution that is good for the environment? In the end this is good for you, others and the land that supports us. According to Michigan State University Extension, participation is the ultimate goal of environmental education (EE). EE strives to create environmentally literate citizens who take action on environmental issues. Resolutions are a firm decision to do or not to do something that ultimately changes our behavior. The following are some suggestions by MSU Extension to consider this year.

One simple way to make an active New Year resolution includes recycling more. There are more and more items that can be recycled these days. Find the recycling centers in your community to determine what items they will take. If they limit what they accept, lobby them to expand their collection. To find out how to recycle more, visit the Michigan Recycling Coalition for lots of ideas. You could also work to develop a recycling program at your school, church or workplace.

Making a resolution to compost your food scraps and kitchen wastes saves garbage space, eliminates certain pollution, and creates a rich product used in gardens and potted plants. Select a small container to put your compost materials in for transfer to a larger bin outside where the “wastes” are allowed to break down. All types of fruits and vegetable can be composted. Never compost meat and dairy products. Vermicomposting (with worms) is a fun way to compost inside thru the winter months. Also, don’t ignore the chance to compost your yard wastes too! There are many good compost resources to help you get started.

Joining an environmental organization is a great resolution to take action and become better informed of environmental issues affecting our lives. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will provide you support to continue and it is fun! Many local nature centers have Friends Groups or lead service projects that are cause worthy. Contact a nature center near your home to get information. The Michigan League of Conservation Voters provides information of organizations within Michigan that focus their efforts toward protection and improvement of the environment. In addition there are numerous national environmental organizations that accept members. Look at each agency’s goals here to determine the right one for you.

Transportation has a big effect on the environment. Your New Year’s resolution can do a lot to reduce the impact that transportation has. Make sure your current vehicle’s engine is tuned-up and has tires inflated properly. This improves gas mileage and keeps your vehicle working longer. Consolidate your trips and carpool to save gas, wear and tear, and carbon emissions. Take advantage of using the bus system where available. If possible, consider trading a larger vehicle for a more fuel efficient one. You will like the cost saving in fuel!

Eco-efforts around the home are resolutions that conserve energy, reduce emissions and save money. Lowering your thermostat in the winter and increasing it during the summer by two degrees will hardly be noticeable but will make a big difference. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with high-efficient CFL bulbs will use less electricity and lower your bill. Plus, CFL bulbs last seven times longer than incandescent bulbs! Another option is LED lights which are even more efficient than CFL bulbs! Household cleaners can be toxic and harmful to the environment. Consider eco-friendly cleansers or homemade cleaners with home available ingredients. Using less fertilizer and herbicide in your yard will stop unwanted chemicals from entering storm sewers and ultimately nearby lakes and rivers.

We can and will make lots of resolutions for the New Year. Make it a priority to make an eco-resolution. There are many more choices in addition to those listed. Start small and slowly try a few more. In the end it is good for you and the environment and may save you money in the process.

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