Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Green New Year's resolutions

With 2009 about to be here, I'm looking for some new goals as I continue my life makeover that is meant to detoxicify my existence and develop sustainable living habits. 2008 was a fairly ambitious year for me as I tried to reduce my polluting impact on my biosphere.

Because global warming concerns me greatly, I applied myself over the past year to reducing what is commonly called my carbon footprint.

To review 2008's achievements toward this goal:

1. I sold my second car and bought a bicycle, and I used the bicycle. I live close to most of the stores I frequent, and a bicycle is entirely practical for running my errands. I enjoy the bicycle as well, except for risking my life in traffic.

2. I reduced my use of paper products, particularly paper towel and paper napkins.

3. I started harvesting rainwater. I use the rainwater to supplement my water needs. It is better for the plants and soil because it is not chlorinated. Collecting rainwater also reduces energy consumption because power is used to pump and process water supplies. Although it's hard for me to estimate how much water I collected and used, I can safely guess that I harvested and used about 400 gallons in the past year.

4. I bought half a cow's worth of grassfed beef from a local farm. For meat eaters, this is a way to reduce the carbon footprint of meat because local grassfed/grass-finished beef involves low transport inputs, no corn (a very fossil fuel intensive crop), plus it did not involve any of those disgusting feedlots. I visited the farm where I bought the beef and saw the cattle grazing in old orchards. The meat is the absolute BOMB by the way. So good.

5. I kept using my sun oven. I actually got this in 2007, but it's definitely one of my favorite new green lifestyle habits. It works best in spring and summer. I love baking with it because I don't have to get the house hot in the hot weather and I produce absolute zero pollution and the power cost is zero.

So, what will be my new green habits for 2009? I'm thinking that I need to do a better job with the plastic shopping bags. I have one Chico Bag, but I need to get more and get better about using them. My brain is still stuck in the take whatever bag you're given mode, which results in a surprising amount of petroleum based plastic bags in my pantry. I can do better.

Another lifestyle change I recently started and will continue for 2009 is vampire hunting. This means I hunt down and control all those power sucking vampire appliances around the house that draw power for no good reason. Common offenders are everything with a remote control. Even when the TV is off, it is still drawing power so that it can respond to the remote when it signals the TV. The solution is to put such items on power strips and turn off the power to the strip when the appliances are not in use. Of course, this means I have to remember to turn the power on before I flop on the couch to watch TV, but I'm picking up the habit quicker than I thought I would. I just started this, and I'm hoping to see an improvement on my power bill.

What would be some other good sustainable lifestyle choices to practice in 2009? I'm always looking out for good ideas. Cheers to reducing pollution and unnecessary waste. Happy New Year.