05 January 2013

A Year of Tens

How about a challenge?  Pick ten small changes you can make in your life that will lighten your tread and lessen your impact on the planet.  Then, for each of the next ten months, pick ten days to make that change.  (November and December are stressful enough, what with the holidays and the light going away, to try anything out of the ordinary.)

Ten months, ten days, ten habits.  If a change feels right, maybe you'll stick with it for the long term.  If not, move on to the next thing on the list.

Here are some possibilities, in no particular order:

Use a re-usable mug for your take-out coffee.
Bring lunch to avoid all the trash from a take-out meal. (See: leftovers, below.)
Write ten letters (email messages count) encouraging businesses to adopt greener practices.
Write ten letters (email ditto) to elected officials, encouraging them to support green legislation.
Reorganize bins in your home (kitchen, bath, home office, laundry) to maximize recycling.
Go beyond the basics: recycle (or donate) electronics, clothes, eyeglasses, shoes, toys.
Compost.  (Not impossible, even in NYC.)
Cut back on food waste.  Plan shopping so you won't end up with food going bad; save leftovers.
Go on a shopping diet: buy household necessities, but nothing else.
Carry and refill your own water bottle.
Avoid buying anything made out of plastic (including packaging).
Take public transit to work or to a weekend activity, or if you live close enough, walk or bike.
Give up paper towels.
Think about library books as an alternative to buying paper copies -- or ebooks.
Make your pet greener.
Shop responsibly: before every purchase, educate yourself.
Cut back on meat.
Check the investment portfolio in your pension plan.  If you can, rebalance toward sustainability.
If you can't -- ten more letters.

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Changing our lives to lessen our environmental impacts is beyond quick fixes.  It's not realistic for any of us to ditch the car, the home, the electricity, the medical care.  We can't go back to the stone age.

But we do need to commit to continuous change, for the rest of our lives, to reduce our ecological impact.  And we need to educate the children in our lives to carry on that habit of constantly re-evaluating .

If you make a list, write it in pencil.  Make changes as you see what's possible for you.  But don't give up!  Keep working on making incremental changes.  At the end of six months, a year, five years, look back and see what you've accomplished.

And please -- make more suggestions to add to the list.