Add a green goal to your new year!

I wasn’t going to make a list of goals for this year. Then I realized, how could I not?! The goals remind me what I’m working towards and what I need to work on. I made my list of seven items and hung them over my desk. I’m ready to make 2015 successful in every way!  If you are lacking an environmental goal to add to your list here’s the article for you:

How many times have you heard “I can’t believe it’s almost 2015?” I hear it from people everyday but it’s a thought in my own head as well. I struggle being present in every moment which causes time to fly by year after year. The new year is a great time to remind yourself of the years past issues and plan for small changes in your everyday life to make a difference for you and our city.

Dallas had a year of environmental issues brought to the forefront of our doors. In January 2014, we saw the Dallas Safari Club auction off a rhino hunting permit in Africa for $350,000. This enraged people on both sides of the argument and brought light to the steep decline of wildlife in Africa. Drought dropped lake levels to record lows and continues to threaten the health of our Trinity River. The City of Dallas hired a new bike coordinator, implying large efforts would be made to increase pedal transportation in the area. The DFW area has been bombarded with earthquakes in 2014 with 26 earthquakes documented on this year. Maybe the biggest news of 2014 was the passing of the plastic bag fee to be implemented at the start of this January.

We set the ground in 2014 to make steps towards becoming a more sustainable city. Now it’s our responsibility to keep our momentum moving forward. We, as humans, are the major contributors of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with an estimated 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide released every year. NASA reports that carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in 650,000 years. Change can start small. The more small changes we make, the more pressure we create for large changes to improve our environmental health.

Here are a few simple resolutions to decrease your carbon footprint in 2015.

  1. Lose the paper towels. estimates Americans send about 3,000 tons of paper towels to the landfill every year. Replace your paper towels with a fabric towel or rag. You can wash the rags and reuse them over and over. Get a few that you don’t care about stains on and use them for every mess.
  2. Drop the phantom power – save money and energy. Many of the electric products you own pull electricity from the wall even when they are in the off position. This includes televisions, lamps, computers, phone chargers and everyday items. The easy fix is next time you turn something off, unplug it. Don’t believe me? Feel your electronics in the off position – if they’re warm they are wasting energy.
  3. Help offset the drought by using less water. Fix leaky faucets. The Environmental Protection Agency says, “A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers!” Is your toilet running extra, this is the time to fix it.
  4. Check off your fitness resolution while helping the environment. Winter in Dallas is a great time to give biking to work a try. The cooler weather won’t cause you to immediately break it out in overwhelming sweat so you show up to work more put together than a hot sweaty mess. The more you use it, the more it will be supported and our new bike coordinator needs you.
  5. Finally, bring your bags and save your change. Let the bag fee challenge you to bring your bags and not spend the cash on the plastic bags.

The new year always brings feelings of excitement and willingness for change. I’m inspired to reflect on what I accomplished in the past year and how I can improve in the new year. If you’re looking for bigger challenges than the five listed think about greening your cleaning supply and making your own, eliminate plastic or canned drinks, or volunteer for a local environmental project. This year I’ll be watching my phantom power sharper, reviving my compost bin and getting back on the meatless Monday plan.

It’s important to make a plan that works for you and your family and tackle a little at a time. You can be successful with little steps towards larger goals. Good luck and let’s make 2015 our greenest year yet!

As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly.

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