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Auld Lang Green

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Easy and eco-friendly New Year's resolutions

New Year's resolutions - the easiest things to make and often the hardest to keep. Instead of promising to lose the same 10 pounds you resolved to lose last year, make the simple promise to be a little more eco-friendly each and every day. Whether it's remembering to bring your reusable bags to the grocery store or finally investing in one of those reusable water bottles, you'll have a resolution you can not only keep, but feel good about keeping.

First up, try trading your store-bought bottled water for home-filtered water in a reusable glass, stainless steel, aluminum or recycled bottle. By bypassing plastic, you'll do your part to reduce the 1.5 million barrels of oil used per year in plastic water bottle production. As an added bonus, you'll save up to $1,400 off your grocery shopping bill this year alone. Imagine those savings if you keep this resolution every year.

If you really want to commit to the cause, you can also try replacing your morning coffee run with a homebrew in an insulated mug. Between the cups and those unnecessary carrying sleeves offered by some chains, a massive 58 billion pieces of cardboard are thrown away each and every year. Looking for a delicious and eco-friendly morning pick me up? Purchase your favorite brand of coffee and brew it in an electricity-saving French press, stir in organic milk and locally made honey and you'll never again miss the taste of big-chain coffee.

This next suggestion is really easy, even if it takes you a while to get into the routine. How often have you gone out to the grocery store, only to realize halfway there or in the checkout line that you've forgotten your reusable shopping bags? Well, fret no more because this year, you will remember. Why? Because you're going to follow any or all of these simple tips:

  1. Keep the bags on a hook near the front door.
  2. Keep one set of bags in the house and another set in the car.
  3. Put a big sign at your door or in your car that says, "Remember Your Bags!"

"Phantom load" might sound like the name of the new action flick or a really bad metal band, but it is actually the energy used by electronics that have been turned off, but not unplugged. Even a plugged-in phone charger with no phone attached draws electricity. By resolving to remember to unplug all items not in use, whether it's the TV, the microwave or the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, you'll not only be acting green, you'll be saving it as well - up to 10 percent off of your total electric bill. To make it easier, try bundling items on a power strip (TV, DVD player, game system on one; coffeepot, microwave, blender on another), that way, you will only have to remember to turn off one item, but get the effect of turning off up to six.

It isn't always easy being green, but making these simple New Year's resolutions is certainly a step in the right direction. Whatever your resolution, make 2012 the year you keep it!

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