A green and peaceful 2011? © John Javellana / Greenpeace
We asked on Greenpeace's Facebook page what your green New Year's resolutions were - and there were some great ideas. Here is the top ten, for those who are still wondering what to do:
1) Eat less meat. While not everyone is ready to become 100% vegetarian, there is little doubt that eating less meat is one of the fastest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Pick one or two days a week where you will only cook vegetarian food. Find a good vegetarian food cooking book to learn the best recipes, and you're set!
2) Pick seasonal and local fruits and vegetables. While it can be tempting to eat strawberries in winter, when they have been imported from halfway across the planet or grown in energy-hungry greenhouses, they're hardly sustainable. Do some research into what is naturally grown in your area in the season, and prefer these. This way, you'll also rediscover the pleasure of meals changing with the seasons!
3) Take your bicycle out of the shed. People who re-start cycling to work and/ or the supermarket often say that it's lovely to rediscover their neighborhood that way. In fact, unless you live in a very mountainous area, this could be the most relaxing resolution you take!
4) Use public transport more. Granted, in the middle of the mountains or when there is half metre of snow outside your door, cycling sounds less appealing. If that's the case where you live, start using public transport to go to work and the supermarket. If public transport connections are poor in your area, then it's time to wake up the local campaigner in you and ask for it - make 2011 the year when your community stood up for sustainability.
5) Make your home efficient. By now, I assume most of you have switched to CFL lightbulbs - so it's time to take home efficiency to the next level. Check your house for heat loss (there are companies specialised in this if you don't feel expert enough) and make it your DIY project in 2011 to fix them. If you haven't yet, lower the thermostat during the night. The ideal temperature to sleep is around 16 degrees celsius. If that's too cold for you, do it in steps - half a degree less each month. You might realise you even sleep better - and you will see it on your heating bill!
6) Become a toxics-free household. This might take a while in research, so plan to do it over the whole year. From beauty products to clothes detergent and computer parts, we have become used to toxics products in our daily lives. Time to stop it. When buying new products, check what they are made of, and pick the one that will have the least toxic residues.
7) Keep your electronics for the year. New cellphone? Must absolutely have the latest iPad? How about the newly released gaming console? Our consumption of electronics is reaching records. Make a break, and promise not to buy new electronics this year, unless the one you already have breaks down (and when it does, ensure it is recycled properly!).
8) Take recycling to the next level. You probably have two different bins in your kitchen, sorting your waste to have it recycled. It doesn't end here though. In 2011, try to reduce the amount picked up by the garbage truck. If you have a garden, start your own compost. When you're at the supermarket, prefer products that are not overpackaged (you know the one: plastics wrapped in plastic, itself wrapped in cardboard...). If there are to many of these items in your local supermarket, time to start campaigning! Write to the store manager and express your concerns - and convince your neighbours to do so as well.
9) Spend more time outdoors. Learn to enjoy nature again. Make a habit of taking a weekly walk outside. We have become so used to live in our houses and in our cars, many people have no idea what nature looks like anymore.
10) Convince (at least) 3 friends to sign up with Greenpeace. Why three? Because almost everyone knows three people they can influence. If those three convince three more people next year and so on, we will grow a movement capable of protecting our planet - and the resolutions above will become a no brainer for everyone.
11) ... What is your green resolution for 2011? Tell us in comments below!