Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's another good one from our Centerville Intern, Erica Coulter. Hope you are all looking forward to a happy, healthy, and sustainable 2012!

Each year I make a list of New Year’s resolutions, just like many other people, except I usually forget about them after a month or two.  It always goes a little something like this:  exercise more, spend more time with the family, get organized, create world peace, etc. (Alright, the last one was a bit far-fetched, I know, but the New Year is supposed to be the best one yet, right?).  In January I manage to do 30 minutes of yoga each day, I eat dinner with my parents every night, I clean out my closet, but my list always magically disappears in the clothes pile that I should have picked up before February.  So, I began to wonder why this always seems to happen to me.  Could it be that I am unmotivated?  No, I tend to throw myself into my work.  Could it be that I have set my goals too high?  No, I at least managed to complete the list for a month, plus this is the time for dreaming big.  So this leaves me with one more option:  my goals are boring.

That’s it!  Every year I simply copy last year’s list, hoping that it will get itself done, and so, I have got to change it up.  Once I had this epiphany, then I had to come up with some ideas.  Not surprisingly, due to being a volunteer at CEC, I decided that this list should include new, exciting ways to “green” my life.  We all know that we should recycle and car pool, but I mean I need fresh ways to be a environmental warrior.  One warrior cannot do it all by herself, so I am enlisting you.  Here are some ideas:

1.        Begin the switch to reusable tote bags each time that you go to the store.  Cute designs are available now, right in the check-out line, so it should be easy to purchase one each time that you make the trip to the grocery.  In a flash your cart will be filled with a fashionable and environmentally-friendly way to transport your goodies.
2.        Grow a houseplant!  I do not have the greenest thumb, but putting a live plant in your home can reduce harmful chemicals and improve the air quality in your home, so I figure I will at least try.  Some ideal plants to choose are daisies, aloe, and herbs (these can be used in cooking, which is a plus if you ask me!).
3.        Stop using coffee stirrers.   This may sound ridiculous to ban such a tiny item, but every year Americans throw away 138 billion of them and they go straight to the landfill for the next few hundreds of years.  Instead, pour your coffee in after the cream and sugar.  If you must stir your Cup o’ Joe, make your own with long pieces of pasta. 
4.        Use your cruise control whenever possible. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 15% just by doing this.  What an easy way to save at the pump and prevent the unnecessary use of this resource!
5.        Pick one fewer napkin when eating out.  The average American uses an average of 6 napkins per day and if every person decreased this number to 5, we could save more than one billion pounds of napkins each year.  That is a lot more space in the landfill and many more trees standing.
If each one of us could make these five ideas a habit, just think of the impact we could have on the environment!  So this year, in between the house-cleaning and healthy-eating goals, don’t forget about Mother Nature.  Stick with these tips and you will be a lean, “green”, cleaning machine in 2012.


  1. Great post Erica. I agree with the napkin one. There is no reason to use a pile of napkins every time you eat out. Most people can get by with one or two for the average meal.
    I think we can all come up with several ways to green our life but the question is will we do them long enough to make them a habit...that is the challenge.

  2. I agree completely, Chuck, and thank you for such a thoughtful response! It truly is a challenge to change certain habits that we may have followed our entire lives. From large goals, such as cleaning out the messy garage, to small ones, like simply decreasing your usage of napkins, change requires a great deal of work. Though I do not claim to have a fool-proof solution to this problem, I would like to provide you and all of our followers with some ways to prolong your goals for more than just this month. Look for my next blog in the coming week for some helpful tips. Again thank you, and Happy New Year!