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Pick one thing you will do in the upcoming year to make the world a better place. More....

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Every year, my husband Doug and I make several New Year’s resolutions.  This year Doug suggested that my primary resolution should be “No screeching.”  My suggestion for him was “No doing things that make me screech.”  We also try to pick a resolution that involves making a difference in the world.  Here are some ideas for both adults and children.  Consider adding one thing to your list for 2009.  More specifics on how to succeed at these can be found at the links below.

New year's resolutions - eco-friendly.  Photo by Bet Zimmerman.
  • Do good – feel good. Volunteer X hours for an activity that benefits your community or the environment. More.
  • Donate X dollars to a non-profit involved in conservation, open space protection, etc.  With the tanking economy, they need your help now more than ever.
  • Remove invasive plants from your yard. More.
  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store. More.
  • Buy locally grown and made products.  Shop and do business locally, and patronize restaurants that serve locally grown food. More.
  • Visit a park or take a walk in the woods. Bring a child along. More.
  • Adopt a stretch of littered roadside near your house and clean it up safely. More.
  • Make your voice heard on an environmental issue.  For example, ask your legislators to support public funding for the environment or farmland preservation.
  • Plant a native tree, or a shrub that produces berries for wildlife. More.
  • Turn off outside lights at night; install an energy-efficient, fully-shielded light fixture that directs light downward so it does not pollute the night sky; switch from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent. More.
  • Avoid using pesticides and switch to nontoxic, organic deterrents. It’s safer for you, your family, your pets, and the environment.
  • Recycle regularly – including glass, plastic and metal containers, corrugated cardboard, paper, scrap metal, batteries, waste oil and electronics.   Purchase products in recyclable containers. More.
  • Stop drinking water sold in plastic bottles.  Use a glass or refillable stainless steel bottle. Filter your own tap water (e.g., with a Brita Pitcher or ZeroWater ZD-013 Z-Pitcher.)
  • Buy paper with a least 30% post consumer recycled content and always recycle junk mail.  At work, send e-mail whenever possible, make double-sided copies, and recycle scrap paper. More.
  • Line-dry your clothes on nice days. More.
  • Put up a birdhouse for native cavity nesters on a pole so it is protected from predators. More.
  • Compost leaves, grass clippings, and leftover vegetable waste.
  • Try out legitimately eco-friendly commercial cleaning products like Seventh Generation or Ecover fabric softener (which smells lovely.)
  • Set up a rain barrel for watering your plants, filling birdbaths, etc. More.
  • Keep tires on vehicles and tractors properly inflated to save gasoline. More.
  • Look for and implement ways to conserve energy - e.g.,  turn out the lights when no one is in the room, lower the thermostat on the heating system or water heater, use ceiling fans to circulate heat in winter and keep rooms cooler in summer. More.
  • Replace one two-mile car journey per week by walking, riding your bicycle or carpooling. More.
  • Properly dispose of all household hazardous waste, items that contain mercury like fluorescent bulbs, and pharmaceuticals. More.

Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has
.” - Margaret Meade

Originally published in the Villager newspapers on January 2, 2009
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