Happy New Year! While we love the old standby resolutions like getting healthier and getting more exercise, we also love setting Earth-friendly to-dos for the year. Here are some of the our favorite eco-friendly resolutions to help the environment:
1. Maintain a smarter fridge
Take a moment and think about your family’s food waste for just one day. Now, multiply that by 365 and it’s a lot! About 60 million metric tons of food are wasted a year in the U.S., with an estimated value of $162 billion. About 32 million metric tons of it end up in municipal landfills, at a cost of about $1.5 billion a year to local governments.
For an eye-opening experiment, start logging a weekly record of every food item you toss in the garbage. You’ll begin to notice patterns and can adjust your shopping habits accordingly. And learn to love leftovers. There are lots of creative recipes online for turning a big leftover meal into any number of subsequent meals. Or freeze leftovers so you can eat them on a future day.
2. Shut down at night
With computer use on the rise, some families may not remember to shut down every night. But remember: by turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year!
3. Use one less paper napkin
Kids, in particular, can be big fans of taking—and using—a pile of napkins during mealtimes. In a year, the average American uses about 2,200 napkins—that’s about six per day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year.
4. Cut down on shower time
Yes, we all love the warmth of a nice, hot shower, especially in the wintertime. But put it into perspective: every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. If everyone in the U.S. saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of the year it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day. Take the resolution to heart for yourself and remind kids.
5. Turn off the lights
It’s easy to forget to turn off the lights when you walk out of a room. But making it a habit can have a significant effect. You’ll save energy on the bulb itself, but also on cooling costs, as lights contribute heat to a room. Always turn off incandescent bulbs when you exit a room. Fluorescent bulbs, on the other hand, are more affected by the number of times they’re switched on and off, so remember to turn those off when you leave a room for 15 minutes or more.
Happy 2016, friends!