Article submitted by: Juan Rosales
Copied from Huffington Post
Year after year, losing weight and quitting smoking top most New Year's resolution lists.
But as we leave 2011 behind, a year that was filled with extreme weather and further disturbing evidence of human-induced climate change, why not add some green goals to your resolution list this January? Earth911.com offers a list of 12 green things that must be done in 2012. Check out what you can do this year to reduce your environmental impact, and click here to offer your own green resolution.
Tips and captions courtesy of Amanda Wills from Earth 911.
1. Replace single-use batteries in your camera with rechargeables
Over the holidays, you may have noticed that your camera eats up battery life faster than Takeru Kobayashi chows down 10 hot dogs. You can save a lot of energy (and money) by making the switch to rechargeable batteries. Sure, the upfront cost will be higher, but it will pay for itself in just three photo-worthy events.
READ: Single-use vs. Rechargeable Batteries
Photo courtesy of Flickr: poppydean
2. Make the switch to CFLs or LEDs already
While the actual details of the "light bulb ban" are still up in the air, there's no question that switching out your incandescent light bulb for a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or the even more efficient LED (light-emitting diode) will save energy and a ton of money for you in the long run. Incandescents turn just 2-10 percent of the energy they use into useful light, releasing the rest as waste heat. However, a CFL will save about $30 over its lifetime; pays for itself in about 6 months and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent. Seventy-four percent of Americans have already made the switch, so go ahead and jump on the bandwagon.
READ: Yes, You Pay More for CFLs, But Are They Worth It?
3. Replace one grocery item with a local or organic option
With the sagging economy, we know most people won't be starting 2012 with extra cash in the checking account. Don't get us wrong, eating all organic and local is ideal, but it's simply not feasible for a lot of us. Instead, chose one staple food that you purchase weekly and replace it with a local or organic option. Not sure where to start? Check out the list of the dirty dozen food items that you should buy organic. SEE: Your Guide to Local Winter Produce
Photo courtesy of Flickr:Wonderlane
4. Install a programmable thermostat
This is a great time to take advantage of the after-Christmas deals at that big-box chain retailer. Buying a programmable thermostat can save you some serious cash on your energy bills because it's a smarter way to heat your home. If used properly, programmable thermostats can save you up to $180 per year in energy costs, according to the EPA. Set the temperature to about 60 degrees during the work day and program the thermostat to reach your desired temperature about an hour before you get home.
READ: Home Weatherizing Tips for Renters and Owners
5. Go vegetarian for just one meal this week
Vegetarian Weeks were all the rage in 2011, but you don't have to cut out meat for seven days to make a difference. The average American consumes around 250 pounds of meat a year. Eating one vegetarian meal per week will save about 35 pounds of meat a year - that's 84,000 gallons of water, 245 pounds of grain and 15.5 gallons of gasoline.
SEE: 5 Low-Waste, Skinny Waste Vegetarian Recipes
Photo courtesy of Flickr:Hanataro
6. Download Earth911′s iRecycle app for iPhone or Android
Yes, we're tooting our own horn a bit, but the iRecycle app is a must-have for 2012. iRecycle can tell you how, where and when to recycle just about anything. Using your current location, ZIP code, address or city, get access to vital details for collection points, such as website, phone number, directions, hours of operation and other materials collected. It's also great for reading the latest news on living a green, healthy life. The best part is that it is completely free!
DOWNLOAD: iRecycle for iPhone and Android
Photo courtesy of Flickr:kennymatic
7. Clean out your garage of hazardous waste
Now that you have the iRecycle app (yes, we know you stopped reading this just to download it), put it to good use! Clear out some space in the garage or basement by finally getting rid of old paint cans, motor oil containers and other household hazardous waste (HHW). Hey, you actually can fit two cars in your two-car garage.
READ: Tips for Cleaning Out Your Garage
Photo courtesy of Flickr:Audin
8. Start just one DIY reuse project
If you're a regular reader of Earth911, you know we love cool reuse projects for the novice DIYer. From magazines and board games, to sports jerseys and food packaging, there is surely an activity to whet your appetite for some final creative exercise for the end of the year.
SEE: Reuse Ideas for Leftover Holiday Cards, Gift Wrap
Photo courtesy of Flickr:faungg
9. Shop for the materials to start your compost
2012 is your year. Stop procrastinating and make composting your New Year's resolution. Lucky for you, we're not asking that you get the whole thing started before Sunday. Instead, take it one step at a time and gather the items that you will need to get it going in January. The most important purchase you'll make for this project is your bin. Figure out where you want to place your compost first, then plan your bin accordingly. Use a covered or automatic bin for a compost in the garage or kitchen. For piles in the yard, an outdoor bin is your best bet. You'll also need a tarp to keep it covered in the winter. After that, start collecting your scraps! Here's what you can throw in the pile.
SEE: Guide to Composting in the Winter
Photo courtesy of Flickr:SuperFantastic
10. Learn how to hypermile for your commute to work
In 2009, we learned all about the concept of hypermiling, and it does make a difference even if you don't own a hybrid car. Hypermiling is simply making skillful changes in the way you drive so as to conserve fuel. You can get 35 percent better fuel mileage out of your current vehicle, no new purchase necessary. (Psst, if you don't own a car, see Tip #11.)
READ: Tips on Hypermiling
Photo courtesy of Flickr:dennis
11. Learn the public transportation routes in your city
For urbanites, owning a car (or driving your car everywhere) isn't really necessary. Take your weekend to study the bus or subway routes in your city. Getting to work without using your car or hopping in a cab may be easier than you think. Even better, learn the route to your New Year's Eve party - no designated driver necessary! If you live in one of the major cities in the U.S., HopStop is a handy tool to get you started.
READ: How to Carpool Anywhere for the Holidays
Photo courtesy of Flickr:Cem K. (iyiinsan)
12. Make a green resolution for the new year
Quitting cigarettes, losing weight and eating healthier should top your list of resolutions, but set some time aside to think about how you can make a difference for the environment in 2012. Over the past 12 months, we've written about some incredible people who have done great things for their local communities. So, browse our archives for inspiration and copy some of their genius ideas. Have a Happy New Year!