My New Year’s “Eco-lutions”

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. They help me to feel excited about the clean slate and possibilities the turning of the calendar brings. But then when real life gets in the way of all those good intentions, they just become one more thing to feel bad about.

But I have some green resolutions I want to make this year and I’m not going to fail. Why? Because all my resolutions will be specific, success will be easy to measure and each one will require only a small amount of start-up work to keep them sustainable all year long.

Oh, and then there is the most powerful motivator of all: guilt.

So here are my five personal New Year’s “Eco-lutions”:

1. Start composting. My husband and I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. And constantly throwing away those scraps and peels is starting to gnaw at me. I don’t have a garden, but my area has many community gardens that I’m sure could use some compost. Once I purchase a bin and find out where and how to donate the compost, I’ll be set.

2. Unplug electronics. I’ve been working hard on this (I had to convince my husband that we really didn’t need the power-drill battery plugged in indefinitely), but there are many areas of the house where this just isn’t working. My plan is to buy a few of those power strips where two of the devices can be “always on” when you turn the rest of them off.

3. Convince the neighbors to cut back. This one is going to be tough. I live in a condo complex, and everyone pays a set fee every month for utilities. So if anyone were to start saving electricity, it wouldn’t reduce their bill a dime. That’s not very motivational. But if we all cut back and started saving the complex hundreds of dollars a month, some of that money might start coming back to us. My goal here is to work with the managers to figure out just how much money we could collectively save if we all made a few changes. Then, let the convincing and measuring of savings begin

4. Get a rain barrel. Again, I don’t have a big garden, but there are plenty of other uses for excess rainwater. I do have several plants that get very thirsty in the summer, and I’m sure we can share it with the neighbors.

5. Switch my lightbulbs. Finally, and probably the most pathetically, I need to replace all the light bulbs to CFLs. Can you believe I haven’t done this yet? Well you probably would if you knew me and how much I hate to let things go to waste. I’ve been waiting for the old bulbs to burn out, but it’s taking too long. It’s time for me to move on.

So, now that I’ve told you all about my eco-imperfections, what changes would you like to make in the New Year and how do you plan to succeed?

(Image Credit: Archie McPhee Seattle/Flickr through a Creative Commons license.)
If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.


  1. What about LEDs? CFLs contain mercury, a hazardous material. LEDs, on the other hand, are just as energy-efficient and considerably less toxic when considering the whole life cycle.

  2. I have decided to watch my water footprint. Living in the desert (Nevada), we are water limited. Also, the vast majority (>90%)of the water that one uses it not from in-home use, but from the foods that we buy. So for instance, buying a fruit that is local and organic might appear to be a good choice, but the amount of water used may be very detrimental to the local water shed. My goal is to be more conscious about water use of my foods and try to reconcile that with the carbon use and ethics (e.g., grown organically).

  3. Great list of goals– it really seems like they’re specific enough to definitely accomplish. Where do you live? I wish more cities would offer municipal composting.

  4. Glad to see the comment from Kate-I was wondering the same. I have read articles on the danger of the mercury in CFL’s and yet have never seen a PSA or notation on the packaging that tells of the danger or of the proper method of disposal.

  5. CFLs can be recycled at certain recycling centers. check, type in cfl and your zipcode to find local places that accept them.

  6. home depot recycles the CFL’s. i changed out all my light bulbs 3 years ago. i was amazed at the savings in one month. i’m interested in the selective power strips. haven’t seen those around. we have 2 computers and 3 televisions in our house, along with an entertainment center. every penny counts this year.

  7. I would like to get TNC to make an ecoresolution to get all memebers and then the public aware of the massive ever-expanding messes or organic wastes and sewage solids that we are handling to allow natural biodegrading action to convert trapped carbon in biochemicals into carbon dioxide to be reemitted needlessly. These messes are a resource to curb emissions and more if a process known as pyrolysis was applied to them as 50% of the carbon becomes inert charcoal that can be used as a soil amendment and the other 50% of the carbon is expelled from the essentially closed pyrolysis as oil like mix of chemicals that can be refined to use as a renewable fuel or to make drugs. The process also destroys germs. toxics and drugs greatly reducing water pollution problems that are growing from the dumps for those messes having escapes into water. EPA is now considering limits on drugs in drinking water systems, so getting this pyrolysis process used on those messes would stop much of the polluting escapes as those hazards would be destroyed.
    Those messes if we do not get control of them soon, may become a bigger threat to humankind’s survival than the climate crisis with water supplies becoming undrinkable and much food getting contaminated along with greatly decreased food from the oceans. Already dead zones in oceans especially the Gulf of Mexico are expanding
    Dr. J. Singmaster, Fremont, CA

  8. My goal: to use my backyard clothesline more often this year. Last summer’s rainy weather curtailed my use, but the truth is that even when the weather cleared up I didn’t use it much… I got lazy. What’s the point of having one if I don’t use it?

  9. Have been trying to use natural resources as much as possible. I am a retired engineer, and time is all I have on hand and have cut down the use of automobile as much as possible – mostly use bicyle to get around. Even when I was working full time, I used motorcycle instead of car in all kind of weathers – I lived and worked in New Jersey, New York, Colorado and fially now reside in California. Now I depend on bicycle as the prime vehicle except when the destination is over 10 miles from home, or when I have to carry any load over 15 pounds. I have not used my motorcycles since I retired, and the car does not get driven over 500 miles in a year. We use cloaths washer, but use cloaths line in garage and in backyard for drying almost all the time. I use rechargeable batteries in the flashlight, or use solar-rechargeable flashlights for general use and for riding the bicycle at night. In public places (libraries or shopping malls) if air drier is available, I would not use paper towels or use my hand kerchief. How I wish, they would remove all paper towel and related containers from public facilities and provide only solar powered
    air driers with battery backup. By the way, we had solar water heater installed when we moved to California in the early 80’s. Wish there were more ways to go green.

  10. That is a great list for an “eco-solution” for this 2010. I also do some of what is on your list. That is why I do agree with your advocacy and I could learn more from your list.

    Stay, Keep, and Look green!

  11. I plan to embrace my mass transit commute and stay out of my car as much as possible. I have already found that I am much less stressed and feel much more a part of a community than I did sitting in traffic with a bunch of harried, angry drivers. And, it gives me more time to read!

  12. I just started recycling last year, due to the fact that I moved to a city that picks up the recycling in my neighborhood. In fact, the city couldn’t make it any easier, I don’t have to separate and they pick it up right outside my door. It always amazes me how many people do not recycle in my community! Why is that? Is it that much more difficult to throw paper or plastic in a bin than in the trash can?

  13. use line dryer ALWAYS, you can always wait until it stops raining, clothes can wait one day to be dried…even in winter, wind can dry most moisture first…traded in truck and drive hybrid (did NOT use bail-out taxpayer $$$), my truck was already TOO efficient??? accor. to govt….ride my bike whenever possible…even though bike/pedestrian laws are nonexistent….and you risk your own life with our current lack of law for pedestrian rights, which is infuriating to me….I strive to live, work, shop, attend class in my own community….compost even in winter, w/indoor auto composter, and outside in compost bin, harvest from my garden, otherwise, buy local, go vegetarian (or very close), hopefully join a CSA cooperative supported agriculture, i.e. small local farms, where you buy a share for a harvest season….ALWAYS avoid big ag., big boxes which support big ag., animal cruelty and putting abused animals’ dead flesh in my body you also absorb their negative vibrations….when I do go out to eat, NEVER use styrofoam, already have most energy efficient HVAC, water heater, will install rain barrel this Spring….since rain water is more beneficial for plants…keep planting habitat for birds, wildlife, bees, hummingbirds…do my tiny little bit of difference…also bought reel mower which I will use solely this summer….also last year went 100$ organic in fertilizing, grass seed, soil, pest control aka use other bugs to eat pests, etc…weed control….i.e. corn gluten…90% organic right now in what I eat….there are bad bugs in fast food, I found out last week when coworker gave me breakfast burrito, I was sick all week…our bodies build up these things…only by organic do we detox….not to go off on tangent or on soapbox, it is quite sickening…literally….anyway, best of luck to us all….

  14. one thing we all need to change, espec those in power is antiquated fee structure…i.e. energy companies need to profit through conservation NOT by people using more energy…waste/recycling contracts should make money by how LITTLE garbage is created, not how MUCH, same with h20, water suppliers should not charge unlimited, but get capped at how much and then make money by how much saved…in my community homeowners have to pay to make up difference when, for instance, the local university, conserves energy and/or water…this already happened last year, it is appalling, and it HAS to change….ASAP….

  15. I can’t believe that someone who works for the Nature Conservancy doesn’t already do this stuff! Isn’t this list kinda for those who wanna get their feet wet going green?

Add a Comment