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Stop worrying about a buck (and other useful resolutions for 2010)

Posted on 08 January 2010

Stuck on what to do for resolutions in 2010? Be different. Here are some not-so-familiar pledges you can make:

1. I will not be as obsessed about what I can get for a buck

Don’t try to tell a fib. You probably have gone in a dollar store. Most of us do, and, yes, there are some good deals if you stop to think about your purchase first. But there’s a reason many plastic goods, for example, in these stores are a buck and not recyclable: they are churned out on assembly lines, in far away places with low-paid workers, with no attention to environmental concerns. It’s one reason that a year never goes by without another health warning about dollar-store toys containing harmful levels of lead.

2. I will help animals in need

Don’t wait for a TV informercial and images of animals in distress to spur you into action. Make a donation to an animal rescue shelter. The overwhelming majority of these facilities manage to sustain themselves solely on donations from the public. Everything from medical supplies to food is needed from caring people like you.

3. I will donate or plant at least 10 tree seedlings

Find a seedling grower in your area (seedlings, such as pine, usually cost less than $3 each) and either plant them yourself, or donate them to a school or girl guide or boy scout troop for Earth Day.

4. I will visit at least one farm and tell the grower how much they are appreciated.

We’ve all heard that message about getting closer to where our food is grown. Usually that typical message involves visiting a farmers’ market. Here’s a twist: actually visit a farm. Many farmers are now selling directly from their farms. You can’t get any closer than that, to where your food is grown. Your visit will be appreciated, and it’s a great way to tell a farmer how much they are appreciated. Plus, you can eliminate the middeman (the grocery store) and ensure all your money for a product goes to the true source.

5. Yep, I will really think seriously about wearing Dad’s old jacket

Relax. We’re not telling you to start wearing a leisure suit. We’re talking sports jacket or winter jacket or (yikes) dinner jacket. Remember, no matter how funny the plaid pattern looks (hey, it will be in style again!), part of reducing waste is recycling and reusing. That includes clothes. And if you really can’t stand the sight of dad’s old jacket, consider visiting a store selling gently used clothing.

6. I will not build a single Inukshuk this year

OK, we know that sounds a little extreme, but we’re noticing a lot of makeshift Inukshuks these days built by people who aren’t Inuit. These makeshift Inukshuks dot the edges of major highways across the land. They are usually made by motorists and their occupants who feel the need to disturb and remove rocks from their natural place. Every rock on the ground represents a habitat. When you remove rocks for activities such as ‘Inukshuk’ building, you destroy a potential home for an amphibian, reptile, mammal or insect.

7. I will speak out when I see a grocery store or restaurant selling items it shouldn’t

Spot frog legs at your local grocery store? What about Chilean sea bass on the menu at a restaurant? Just don’t stand there with your shopping cart, or sit there in your chair. Speak out. Ask to see the grocery store or restaurant manager so you can tell them why it’s not socially responsible (always use the term ‘socially responsible’ — it hits a nerve in a more positive but yet impactful way than saying ‘irresponsible’) to sell endangered or threatened species. And don’t always assume you’ll be setting yourself up for a confrontation. You may in fact be educating someone which is often appreciated.

8. I will drive less like Mario Andretti

That means taking your foot off the gas and coasting if a traffic light ahead is red, and accelerating gradually from a stop. If you hear the engine rev, you’re acting like Mario again. It’s time to cool your engines.

9. For my next project I will choose my wood carefully

It’s pretty much a given that in 2010 you will make something out of wood, or buy something made of wood. This is where you can educate yourself about making the right choice. Forest Stewardship Council is an international certification and labeling system that guarantees that the forest products you purchase come from responsibly managed forests and verified recycled sources. Usually, products made of solid wood are best, but look for the FSC label. Be aware that many composite, veneers, wood strawn products are made through processes that typically include 1) toxic volatile organic compounds (also known as VOCs, which are carbon-containing gases and vapors such as gasoline fumes and solvents); 2) particulate matter (PM) which consists of airborne particles in solid or liquid form. These can often produce a haze in the air. PMs can be a health concern and may aggravate asthma and respiratory diseases; 3) Nitrogen oxides (NOx) which is forned by the gases nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) can cause acid rain and other ecosystem-damaging impacts such as vegetation and crop loss; 4) Carbon monoxide; 4) Acelatdehyde, acrolein, formaldehyde, and methanol.

10. I will convert at least one paper newspaper or magazine subscription to online digital edition

Let’s be realistic: Many people still like to ‘hold’ a newspaper or magazine. But many newspapers and magazines also now provide digital editions. Not sure if you will like it? Ask for a trial edition. Even if it’s only for one issue, or one month, you’ve helped reduce paper use.

Article by Gregg McLachlan – Founder of WorkCabin.ca, Canada’s online outpost for environmental jobs
www.workcabin.ca

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- who has written 40 posts on Green Guys Global.

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