5 Green Resolutions You'll Keep

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Here are 5 great ways you can benefit yourself and the environment over the next twelve months.

Are you planning to make a few green resolutions for 2010 but aren’t sure where to begin? Here are five ways to get started: 

Resolution #1: Become a do-it-yourselfer

For the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green, Lindsay Coulter, green resolutions start in the home—and many of these begin in the kitchen. That’s where Ms. Coulter mixes up concoctions for home cleaning supplies, toiletries, bird feeders, and even cat litter. “It’s really easy and super cheap to make your own, and the concoctions work better than store-bought [options], minus the toxic chemicals, fragrances and dyes,” says Coulter. Studies show the average American household uses 40 pounds of chemicals each year to clean their homes, and that chemical compounds from home cleaning products wind up in local streams and rivers. Here’s yet another reason to mix your own: toxic exposure from chemicals inside dwellings is two to five times higher than outdoors.

Resolution #2: Cut down on food waste 

Nationally, Canadian homes throw out up to 14 million tons of food annually, estimated to be worth $3 to $5 billion. In Toronto alone, residential food waste exceeds 200 million kilograms per year, most of that edible. Although composting in a municipal bin is a step in the right direction, it still means emissions from trucking and storage in landfill sites. (Not to mention the energy it took to produce the food in the first place.) By eliminating food waste, Canadians can prevent the release of greenhouse gases. One estimate puts the savings at between nine to 15 million tonnes annually. 

Resolution #3: Reduce your virtual water footprint 

The water we use in our households every day (an average of 100 litres per shower, 20 litres per flush of the toilet) represents only three percent of the water we consume. The remaining 97 percent comes in the form of our virtual water footprint—the amount of water used to produce the products we consume every day, including food. A few examples: 16 000 litres of water is required to produce one kilogram of beef; it takes 140 litres to produce one cup of coffee. Calculating your virtual water footprint and making small changes, such as eating a meat-free meal every week, can help save valuable water resources here and around the globe. Visit waterfootprint.org and select your footprint calculator. 

Resolution #4: Get outside  

“There is actual biological value in having experiences with nature, value that is measurable and quantifiable,” writes David Suzuki. He references a recent British study showing the bigger and more biological diverse a park was, the greater the sense of health and well-being experienced by participants who visited it. “General health, mental fatigue and physical injury all recover faster when patients have access to natural areas.” The Suzuki Foundation’s Coulter suggests not only getting outside more often, but also doing it closer to home. After all, studies indicate aviation accounts for 4 to 9 percent of total climate change from human activity.

Resolution #5: Think big 

Coulter also suggests that people need to “move beyond tips” when it comes to green behaviour. “Ask yourself, ‘can I go deeper?’ in making changes. Individuals can really make a difference when you get down to the root of why you consume, when we know stuff doesn’t make us happy,” she says. According to David Suzuki’s Green Guide, reducing your consumption by one kilogram can save approximately 200 kilograms of natural resources and prevent 200 kilograms of waste and pollution.