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Keepers of the Earth: A green New Year’s resolution

It’s still very early into 2017. Many of you are still sticking to your plans of eating better, hitting the gym or maybe giving up a bad habit like smoking. But if you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet (or even if you have and are ready for another challenge) why not make a change this year to better the planet?

Here are five easy green resolutions you can easily adopt starting right from home:

1. Change to CFL and/or LED light bulbs:

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, CFL and LED light bulbs use 25 – 80 percent less energy and last anywhere from three to 25 times longer than your average incandescent bulb.

That means more money in your pocket, less trips up the step stool to change the light bulb, and of course, less electricity used, which benefits the environment.

2. Bring your reusable bags:

Stop forgetting those reusable bags at home or in the trunk, using the “eh, next time!” excuse. There are countless problems with our mass-consumption of plastic shopping bags. From the massive volumes in landfills (billions of pounds in Canada alone!), to wildlife ingesting them, to their origins from non-renewable resources (petroleum), plastic bags are wreaking havoc on the earth.

Want an easy way to remember and organize those heaps of reusable bags? Fold them neatly into squares and line them up in a bin or cardboard box to keep in your car. It’s worked perfectly for me and I make the effort to remember them before I go in to the store.

Want a bonus point? I carry a tiny foldable fabric bag in my purse at all times for those small trips and it always comes in handy.

3. Turn down the thermostat:

It sure is tempting, especially in January, to turn up the heat at home and in the office to a nice, toasty temperature. But put on your cosiest sweater and comfy mocs and you’ll feel just as good.

Hydro Quebec estimates that approximately 54 percent of your electricity bill is from heating. Lowering your thermostat by just 1-3°C can make a difference on your monthly bill and you can even keep empty rooms at 15°C without problem.

Don’t forget to lower them further when you leave the house or when you go to bed (hello warm duvet!).

4. Bring your own water bottle – everywhere!

Plastic water bottles share the same earth-threatening problems of plastic shopping bags, so why are we more tolerant to using as much as we do? Some of you may be saying, “ Hey! I recycle those plastic bottles!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the biggest advocate of recycling (to the point where I annoy my family) but consider the loads of energy and resources being used to recycle, reproduce and redistribute those plastic water bottles once again.

Stop wasting money on plastic bottles and make your reusable water bottle your new sidekick. Mine follows me to work, out on errands, to the movies, road trips, everywhere.

Allow your kids to choose their own special, snazzy water bottle and you’ll never have to hear “Ma! I’m thirsty!” while out again.

5. End phantom power waste:

Any appliance that’s plugged into an electrical outlet and not in use is still sucking up electricity; even that innocent looking cell phone charger that you never unplug and put away (hint, hint honey).

An easy solution, other than unplugging them of course, is to plug your devices into a power bar that can be easily shut on and off, saving you effort and energy.

Keep up your own personal New Year’s resolutions and add on one or two more for our ever-giving Mother Earth. Here’s to a happy, healthy and green 2017!

Onawa K. Jacobs
Onawa has 10 years of experience working with youth and adults in the fields of education and career counselling. Since 2013, she has been working as an Employment & Training Counsellor with Tewatohnhi’saktha. Her skills and interests are multi-disciplinary; also working as the Art Integration Specialist for the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre’s Expansion & Renovation Project and as an environmental columnist for The Eastern Door. She is committed to the betterment of her community on many fronts: education, labour force, economic welfare, preservation of language and culture, and the environment, and aims to be part of the helping profession for many years to come.
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