Special to The Citizen
You may be ready to make some New Year’s resolutions now that another difficult year is over. The origins for New Years resolutions go back to the ancient Babylonians. They made promises to their gods that they would repay any loans and pay off all debts. These promises could be considered the beginning for New Year’s resolutions.
New Years resolutions are not rooted in religion, but they are mostly secular. Instead of making promises for the gods, most people make resolutions to themselves. They are usually about their health, finances, and relationships. Eco Talk may also be of interest to long-time readers.
There is a news story about the changing climate and other environmental issues every week. Many are actively taking small steps towards reducing their environmental impact to gain some control. It is possible to save money and have a positive effect on the environment by taking small, thoughtful steps. I have previously suggested that you:
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Consider composting. Keep food waste away from landfills. This creates methane which is a powerful greenhouse and contributes to climate changes. To fertilize your landscaping, use finished compost and avoid using chemical fertilizers. To start a compost pile, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office.
Start cooking from scratch. From farm to factory to supermarket to table, packaged convenience foods use energy, oil and water. These processed foods are often low in nutritional value and must be sweetened and fortified. Cooking from scratch can be made easier by using cookbooks, meal planning, and batch cooking on weekends. Start from scratch, cooking one to two days a week. Or, you can do a batch cooking class every weekend. Then, work your way up. For tips and recipes, check with your local extension office.
Avoid fast fashion. Americans are willing to accept clothing that is only used for one or two season. The fashion industry is the second-most polluting industry in the globe, after the oil industry. Fast fashion uses petroleum-based synthetic fabrics and dyes. These are in addition to fossil fuels that are used during manufacturing and shipping. Recycled and vintage clothing require less water and chemicals that virgin fabric. You can either buy vintage clothing, secondhand, or clothing made in the United States. So that clothing lasts, choose timeless styles and high-quality materials.
Hang your laundry to dry. According to some sources, 15%-20% domestic energy is used by commercial, industrial, residential and residential clothes dryers in the U.S. In 2007, clothes dryers in U.S. households emitted 60.33 tons climate-changing carbon dioxide. The savings could be enough to close many coal-fired and nuclear power plants if Americans folded drying racks once per week.
Forget the paper towels. I know how easy it can be to tear a towel from a roll. This practice results in paper towel waste of 13 billion pounds each year, or 45 lbs per person. In reality, one paper towel per person per day could reduce paper waste by 570 million pounds. Use cotton towels and fabric napkins to wash your clothes. If you do need to use paper towels they can be composted. You will soon be able to skipping the paper towels with some practice.
Local foods are best. Local purchasing keeps dollars in our communities, supports local farmers, provides fresh, delicious food to the family. There are many ways to purchase local food. There are many ways to buy local foods. You can join a CSA, shop at your local farmers markets or farm stands in season, or buy food from local farms in the grocery. By reducing food miles (the distance food has to travel), your carbon footprint is reduced. Local farms are also supported. Local food is more nutritious than food that is shipped far away.
Resolutions are about looking towards the future. As we begin the new Year, be mindful of the environmental impact of your actions and find ways to reduce it. The ancient Babylonians clearly understood the importance planning for the future. Perhaps we can learn from this lesson. Happy and healthy new year!
Judy Wright is the senior agricultural specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Seneca County. Visit http://www.ccooperativeextensionseneca.org/ for more information senecacountycce.orgCall (315) 539-9251 for ext. 109.
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