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Resolution: Be Green in 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

By Jana Ballinger, Care2 Green Living Copy Editor and Producer

With the holiday festivities pretty much behind us, it's time to start thinking about some New Year's resolutions. Self improvement seems to top the list for most—lose 10 pounds, get that promotion—but how about also resolving to do something good for the planet? You'll get something out of it too: Going green often means doing stuff that's healthier for the environment and healthier for you. And being a do-gooder feels good!

SIMPLE SOLUTION: So here are some ideas for resolutions for a greener new year:

Be Naturally Beautiful. I hate to break it to you but that gook you put on your face and in your hair might be doing a lot more than making you feel pretty. It could make you feel sick. Take this quiz and check your products for dangerous chemicals such as phthalates or sodium laurel sulfate. Many everyday products such as shampoos, soaps, lotions and lipsticks contain them. Opt for organic products made of natural ingredients and thank Mother Nature for that radiant glow.

Wake Up and Smell the Perfume. Don't let the pretty smell fool you: Most fragrances are just chock full of hazardous chemicals. But there are alternatives that will leave you smelling sweet as a rose. Get the scoop here.

Eat Organic. No two ways about it, buying organic dairy and meat saves tons of resources and is just plain better for you. Organic produce is tastier and also healthier, but it is more expensive because it's a lot cheaper to dump chemicals on a crop. If you can't afford to buy all organic, here's a list of the top 10 fruits and vegetables to eat organic.

Buy Local. Common sense says that the farther away your food is grown, the more fossil fuels are required to get it to you. So look for local produce at your grocery store and make it a point to visit your community farmers market whenever possible. Defining local.

Be a Bag Lady. Even if you're just bringing back all the paper and plastic bags stuffed in that bottom drawer of your kitchen, always BYOB. If you don't want to spend money on reusable grocery bags—although there are lots of really cute options out there—look around the house for old totes, beach bags, twine-handled fancy shopping bags or even large baskets. Keep lots in your trunk (and don't forget to put them back in the trunk after unloading your groceries!), plus one compact bag folded up in your purse so you're never without it.

Clean Green. You don't even want to know all the gross chemicals that are in commercially made products. Not only are you breathing those chemicals, but then you end up pouring them down the drain. Not good for you, or the Earth. So what's the answer? Get a non-toxic cleaning kit.

Change a Light Bulb. If just one light bulb in every home in America were switched out for a compact fluorescent—aka CFLs—it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year. CFLs are everywhere now, there are tons of different kinds to choose from and it's such an easy fix. Learn more.

Sip, Don't Guzzle. Even if you don't plan to buy a hybrid, there are ways to make the car you have get the best possible gas mileage. A properly tuned engine will get between 6 and 20 percent higher mpg, for example. Here's a list of 12 things you can do to stretch a tank of gas.

Be a Peddle Pusher. Sometimes a car is necessary, but just running errands around town? Ride your bike to the post office, the grocery store, the dentist, etc., and experience the true joy of being car-free for a while. Bonus: Hello, exercise! More benefits of biking here.

Be an Online Activist. Did you know you can help stop global warming, save the rainforest and keep pollutants out of our oceans with a single click? You can. You can also sign petitions to let the people in power know you care and want to make a difference. Try it today.


President Bush on December 18th signed into law a new energy bill, H.R. 6 the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, that improves fuel economy standards and paves the way for a cleaner energy future. The bill the President signed responds to the challenge of his bold "Twenty in Ten" initiative, which President Bush announced in January. It represents a major step forward in expanding the production of renewable fuels, reducing our dependence on oil, and confronting global climate change. It will increase our energy security, expand the production of renewable fuels, and make America stronger, safer, and cleaner for future generations.

Here is what the bill does:

  • Automobile mileage must increase to an average of 35 mpg by 2020, the first increase in 30 years,
  • New energy efficiency standards will be set for appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines,
  • Starting in 2012, incandescent light bulbs will be phased out, favoring compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and
  • Output of renewable fuels, such as ethanol (and hopefully soon many others), will increase to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

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