If part of your new goals this year is to live greener, there are several things you can do to step into a more sustainable lifestyle. The key to keeping goals, or what we call resolutions at the beginning of the year, is to take small manageable steps. Biting off more than you can chew will leave you frustrated and less likely to succeed in changing your behavior permanently.
Mix and match or try all seven of these greener living steps.
1. Save your greeting cards and use the pictures to create your own present tags for next year. It is a shame we throw away the beautiful holiday cards we are sent. Clip out those cute covers and use the back for tags on presents next year. A hole punch and some ribbon make these reused cards professional looking. For more ideas visit: http://www.suite101.com/content/christmas-card-recycling-ideas-a176689
2. Buy used. When your in the market for a specific piece of furniture, household item, tool, or fixture look them up on Craig’s List lasvegas.craigslist.org/, and frequent your neighborhood thrift stores. Buying used instead of new helps reduce planetary waste and keeps items out of landfills. Plus it helps the community you live in by giving your money to neighbors and charitable thrift stores instead of the large retailers. For a list of Las Vegas thrift stores visit: http://local.yahoo.com/NV/Las+Vegas/Retail+Shopping/Shopping+Venues/Thrift+Stores
3. Wrap up gifts in reusable materials. Wrapping paper is such a waste of money on some gifts. If you are giving kitchen items, use a new kitchen towel to wrap it in. It is wrapping and a gift. Bedroom gifts look great in a new sheet. Beautiful fabric is another great wrapper for creative friends who will do something fabulous with it. Baby gifts look great in swaddling cloth and receiving blankets. Just a ribbon finishes the gifts off and they look awesome. For more ideas using fabric to wrap gifts visit: http://www.bellenza.com/wedding-ideas/packaging-ideas/wrap-art-learn-how-to-wrap-gifts-with-fabric.html
4. No meat Mondays. This will be easy or difficult depending on what your use to. If you like salads you can easily skip meat for one day a week. If you’re a meat and potatoes person, that may be a challenge. If meat is part of your healthy diet, by all means keep it there, but try to meat fast for one day. It gives your body a break and replaces it with a less energy intensive produced food. Many restaurants are offering a full menu of no meat selections on Mondays to get the trend rolling. For places in Las Vegas to get a great vegetarian meal visit: http://www.hauteliving.com/2010/11/can-the-meat-the-top-5-vegetarian-restaurants-in-las-vegas/
5. Donate or repurpose unwanted items. If you have useful items in good working order you no longer want, be sure to take advantage of a tax deduction and donate them to a charity or thrift store. Some thrift stores will even give you a discount coupon for your donation (Savers, www.Savers.com) in addition to a tax receipt. If the items are no longer reusable, like stained clothes, turn them into rags to save on your paper towels. Computers, phones, batteries, and electronics can be recycled at special centers in most cities. For information on Las Vegas’ recycling options visit: http://local.yahoo.com/results?stx=recycling&csz=Las+Vegas%2C+NV
6. Eat organic and local as often as possible. Organic food is more affordable and available than it has ever been. Most local markets carry organic produce, products and hormone free meat. The markets with the best selections or organic and Earth friendly products are Sunflower Market www.sfmarkets.com, Trader Joes http://www.traderjoes.com, and Whole Foods www.wholefoodsmarket.com, but you can find organic products now at Wal-Mart, Albertsons, Smiths and Vons. Buying local products is a green choice since less fuel was used in getting the products to the consumer. The Las Vegas Farmers’ Market has several markets a week featuring local produce and hand made foods and crafts. http://www.Lasvegasfarmersmarket.com
7. Reduce your energy use. Several steps can be taken to save on energy you use throughout the year. The investment you make to reduce the energy you use will also save you money. As your light bulbs burn out, replace them with energy efficient bulbs easily found at all retail outlets. If you need to replace your holiday lights, LED lights use one tenth the energy of conventional bulbs. Drafty doors and windows can be sealed with caulking or for a quick fix, place a rolled towel in front of the draft. This can help in the extreme heat and cold, especially when it is windy. For more information on energy saving products and steps visit: www.energystar.gov
Most important to remember is to take small steps and do what you can to help reduce, reuse and recycle in your own way, that fits best with your lifestyle. The biggest impact an individual can have in going greener is to make permanent changes that improve and enhance your life, not make it more complicated or stressful.