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.
- Buy organic - but if you're worried about the expense, learn which foods to prioritize. Apples, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes and spinach are always better to buy organic. But bananas, kiwi, mangos, papaya, pineapples , asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, onions and peas are ok for you if they're conventionally grown, because the contain less pesticide residue.
- Cook at home, with healthful, organic ingredients. It's cheaper than eating out, and creates less waste.
- Save your leftovers. Reuse them in another meal, or enjoy them again for lunch the next day. More than half of all the food we produce is wasted.
- Go grocery shopping with a list, so you won't buy more than you need. Rotate the items in your fridge so that the oldest ones are in the front, and you will remember to eat them before they go bad.
- Consider the carbon footprint of the food you eat. Stores may soon be labeling it for you, but until then, buy foods that are seasonal and local - no asparagus or other warm-weather food in cold months.
- Perfect the art of the last-minute recipe. Learn leftover-friendly recipes that incorporate foods that have only a day or two left before they go bad. Old white rice, for example, is better for fried rice than fresh rice is. Brown bananas can be sliced, sprinkled with honey, and frozen for a snack or can be baked into banana bread. French toast and bread pudding are sweet uses for stale bread.
- Find new uses for spoiled food. Shriveled-up citrus has a lot of uses, particularly as a cleanser. An old lemon can freshen a dishwasher or garbage disposal. A dried-out onion can clean your grill.
- When you go grocery shopping, don't forget your reusable bag.
More: I'm Not a Plastic Bag
- Learn how to compost your waste (you can even do this if you don't have a yard). It's the most eco-friendly way to dispose of food, which releases gas in landfills.
- Try to avoid overpackaged foods. Buy snacks in bulk, and dish them out in tupperware containers for your kids' lunches, rather than plastic bags. Use a reusable lunch bag instead of a brown paper sack.
- When you go out for sushi or seafood, use one of these guides to see if your fish is raised sustainably.
- Try growing your own food, if you have a yard. Many people find gardening relaxing, and your vegetables will taste great with proper care. Give any excess harvest to your neighbors or friends. There are businesses that can help you get your garden started, if you're interested.
- Try flexitarianism, the practice of eating less meat, rather than eliminating it entirely. Vegetarianism isn't for everyone, but if you cut meat out of your diet just for a few meals a week, you could see an improvement on your health and also your carbon footprint, since the meat industry - especially cows - are a source of carbon emissions.