As we spend the next few days thinking of ways to better ourselves in 2009, here are a few green resolutions to add to your list. Many of them will help you with your financial resolutions, as well, since going green can often save you money. Add your own resolutions in the comments below.
- Save energy with simple steps like turning off lights and unplugging appliances. Plugged-in but unused appliances, such as phone chargers, are constantly sucking energy (hence the name "vampire power"), and unplugging them can help you save.
- Shut down your computer every night. The computer is one of the biggest energy hogs. You can also tinker with the energy-saving settings so that it goes into deep sleep.
- Turn down your thermostat when you go to sleep, and put an extra blanket on your bed. You'll notice the difference in your bill, but stay just as toasty while you sleep (And to those who say it takes as much energy to heat a house up again after turning the thermostat down - well, that's not true. You save more energy during the time the heat is down than you waste when the house is heating up again).
- If you need to purchase a major appliance this year, go for an Energy-Star rated one.
- Run your dishwasher and washing machine when they're full, to save water. If you want to go a step further, wash clothing on cold - it uses less energy. Then, dry your clothes on a clothesline.
- Clean your house with green cleaning supplies, which don't contain toxic ingredients. I'm partial to Arm & Hammer's green cleaner because it uses less packaging, thanks to a refillable bottle and cartridge system, but I've heard others sing the praises of Clorox GreenWorks and Seventh Generation, too.
- Recycle more than just bottles and cans. You can recycle old gadgets and get cash back. You can also recycle by donating your old stuff to charity, or selling it, rather than just throwing it away. In your normal recycling, be conscious of what can go into your bin, and what items can't be recycled.
- Replace your lightbulbs with energy efficient CFLs or LEDs when they burn out. The newer bulbs will last longer, too.
- Say "no thanks" to junk mail. You can sign up to have unwanted catalogues and mailers discontinued through sites like the National Do Not Mail List for less irritation and less trash.