Here are the top five commitments to make for the environment in 2016. I chose these based on simplicity, easy access to resources (focused on here in Dallas), and each tip can be done by a beginner and extended out for the experts. Collectively, as a world now, we have a goal of reducing our impact on our planet and limiting the CO2 released into the atmosphere and it starts with small change.
5. Recycle. Don’t have a blue bin? Contact the city and get one. Not sure what they take, follow their page on Facebook for info. Live in an apartment? Utilize one of the city drop off locations. Go in on the errand with a few neighbors and increase the recycling done at your apartment — maybe the landlords will catch on. Already recycle? Step up your game and start recycling more products such as Styrofoam, binders, light bulbs, batteries, carpet and more at our local comprehensive recycling center, Recycle Revolution (recyclerevolutiondallas.com) located in the Design District. And to the readers who argue recycling wastes more water rinsing your containers than throwing them away, recycling actually saves water. Harvesting and processing virgin materials uses more water than recycling. Clean off recyclables and use minimal water to rinse, but don’t stop recycling.
4. Consider no meat at least one day per week. I know, the travesty, especially in big beef Texas! But one day is not the end of the world. Sixty three percent of global fish stocks are now considered overfished and many fish farm practices are far from sustainable and environmentally friendly. Agricultural meat (chicken, pork, beef, etc) causes pollution to air and water, requires large amounts of water for processing and is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Total meat consumption is on the rise; cutting out just one day can have a great impact on our environment. To put it in perspective, earthday.org states, “if the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles — or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.” If you are already practicing one day a week of no meat, try two or more. Choose grass fed organic meats and sustainable seafood (Seafood Watch app).
3. One day a week less driving. Another big Texas auto travesty. But small decisions reap big benefits. Can you get to work by train, or carpool with a coworker, telecommute from home, or ride your bike once a week? If these aren’t options for you, plan your errands ahead to save time, money and fuel. Plan to go to your farthest errand and then work your way back all in the same trip. Shorter trips taken from a cold start use twice as much fuel as the same distance covered when the engine is warm. And remember, idling over 10 seconds is a waste — no need to let your car warm up for over 30 seconds even on the coldest of Dallas days.
2. Smarter grocery decisions. You don’t have to buy every organic product in the store, but choose a few this year and make the commitment. Here’s my top three (within a top five) grocery store decisions to execute in 2016. 3 – Buy free range organic eggs. Eggs are most sustainable bought from a local farmer or at a farmers market, but if you must buy at the store, choose high environmental quality. 2 – All natural no sulfates or palm oil dish detergent and soaps. 1 – Ditch the paper towels and upgrade to 100 percent recycled toilet paper. There’s nothing a paper towel does that an actual reusable towel can’t do.
1. Vote. Without getting uber political in a year that will be a political nightmare, choose candidates that are making an effort to place the environment as a top priority. Yes, the big presidential race is happening this year, but we will also have local decisions to make that will have a big impact on our Dallas community. Take the time to research the candidates and make an informed decision. One vote is your voice.
Add some of these environmental commitments to your New Year resolutions and keep an eye on this blog and the Along the Green Trail column in the Katy Trail Weekly to stay motivated!