By: Sara Kaplaniak and Tom McCann
Thinking of a resolution this New Year? Most people look to save a little money, lose a few pounds, or give something back to the community. How about accomplishing all three by living a little greener?
You already know the “Three R’s”: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. 2013 is a time to take things to a new level by incorporating three new “R’s” into your planet-friendly lifestyle: Reconnect, Rethink, and ... Rally!
First, reconnect with nature by taking a “First Day” hike – a new annual tradition sure to offset some of those holiday cookies! Set the tone for the year by getting outside for a walk or hike at a state park or nature preserve. Visit the Billy Goat trail in the Potomac Gorge, spend the day along the Chesapeake Bay, or explore the mountains of western Virginia and Maryland – all in close proximity to Washington, DC.
The New Year is also a time to rethink the choices you make every day. Start with the menu by incorporating seasonal dishes that feature food grown and prepared locally – even at home! It’s not as difficult as it may seem since the mid-Atlantic boasts varied fruits and vegetables and crabs, rockfish, and oysters brought in from the Chesapeake Bay by local watermen regularly.
Then take a look around the house to ensure you are maximizing energy savings. Caulk leaks around windows and add an insulation blanket to the water heater.
While you are at it, freshen up your recycling practices. Move beyond glass, plastic, and newspaper and take on computers, DVD players, televisions, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and cell phones. Send those locally-grown food scraps to the compost bin and use a rain barrel to collect water for flowers and plants.
When the house is in order, examine your transportation habits. If your daily commute involves a car, consider alternatives such as public transportation, bicycling, telecommuting a day each week, or participating in one of the popular bike or car-share programs in Washington, DC.
And so what could be left to do after all of that? That’s when it’s time to rally! Organize friends and family, co-workers, and neighbors to volunteer an hour, a day, or more to help restore the natural landscapes around us. The Nature Conservancy and local partners in the Washington, DC area host regular networking and volunteer opportunities to get you started.
If you strive for a lifestyle that prioritizes living lighter on the land, these new resolutions are sure to keep you on the right track. Following through on them are sure to make this a New Green Year!
Green Living: Ideas for People and Nature is written by Nature Conservancy staff exploring ways to live greener every day. www.nature.org/peopleandnature.
Tom McCann is an associate marketing director for the Conservancy based in Arlington, Virginia.
Sara Kaplaniak is a regular contributor to Nature.org based in Pennsylvania.