A lot of what we have talked about in this column relates to lifestyle changes in order to truly create and maintain a sustainable community. It’s all about making slight adjustments which may appear to be insignificant in and of itself, but when implemented on a global scale produces an enormous impact. What better time of the year to commit to slight changes or improvements in our daily routines than on the Eve of the New Year?
Perhaps the best place to start is to make a list of what energy saving changes, and other life style changes could be made by you and your family over the course of the coming year. If you are unsure as to what you may be able to accomplish and are afraid of over-committing, then you may consider baby steps first. Pick and chose what you know you can do, save your list – add to it over the coming year and try and tackle larger goals next year. The pride you will take in accomplishing a few of these goals early on will convince you that you can make and keep New Year's resolutions and will help you tackle larger challenges in the future.
You may also consider creating sub-categories where you may consider targeting a few items in each category. Some suggestions are:
Try working in an alternative commute at least one day per week. Rather than driving your car every day, consider walking, biking, mass transit, car pooling, or telecommuting just one day per week. Take advantage of compressed work schedules if they are available to you.
If you normally drive somewhere for lunch every day, consider either bringing a lunch once a week or walking to a restaurant/sandwich shop within the area. If you are near a bus route take a quick bus trip to grab some lunch and hop on a ride back to work. Leave your car in the parking lot.
Make sure all of your non-essential electronic equipment, including office lights, are turned off at the end of the day. If you control your own thermostat, turn it up or down according to the season, for the evening. Recycle your office trash.
Weatherize your home, a small investment in weather stripping and caulking can save big dollars over the long haul, and increase your comfort level.
Replace incandescent lights with “green” lights, these lights last longer, use less power to operate and give off less heat. By replacing a few bulbs here and there you can be totally green by the end of the year.
Separate your recyclables. Don’t throw your newspapers, plastic, and aluminum cans away. The cost of generating that same item from raw materials is significantly higher than making the same item from recycled materials.
Turn your thermostat down in winter and up in summer. A few degrees change in your life style here creates dramatic savings of fuel over the course of a year.
Walk or bike to the grocery store to pick up a few things you may need for the day or weekend. Try and roll several car trips into one rather than making separate trips for several different needs.
Bring your own grocery bags with you every time you grocery shop.
Try and make a conscious decision to select products with minimal packaging.
Conserve water, explore the benefits of a rain barrel.
Consider creating a compost bin for your organic scraps and your gardening.
For your next car purchase consider compacts and hybrids as the vehicle of choice for your daily work commutes. Keep the SUV in the garage for the weekends.
I wish everyone a very Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2010.
Saving tomorrow begins today!