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12 Steps To Go Green In 2012

Is your new year’s resolution to go green in 2012?  If so, the DENR Sustainability Team can help you!

Simple actions can change the world around you. Go green all year long by making small changes to your daily life that can make a big difference in the future of our planet.

Physiologists agree that it generally takes about 28 days to change a habit. 28 days of consciously trying to make a change should lead to a permanent change. Every month you can make a new green habit!

January

Reduce

Preventing waste in the first place means you have less waste to worry about in the end! Use products with minimal packaging, use a cloth napkin instead of a piece of paper, use washable mugs at work instead of paper cups, or reusable cloth towels instead of paper towels.

February

Reuse

If you can reuse your waste, it is no longer considered waste! Before you throw anything away, think hard about how that item might be used again. Could you give it to a friend? Could it be re-purposed into something else? Give away old clothes and other unwanted items to charities and turn old maps into eco-friendly wrapping paper. Cereal boxes and egg cartons can be turned into arts and crafts supplies, or you can fill up your empty spaghetti jars with rice or other bulk grains. 

March 

Green your clean

Spring cleaning? Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice can be just as effective as store-bought cleansers.

April

Buy and eat local

Purchase local meat, fruit, veggies and grains from your farmers market, sign up for a community supported agriculture program, or choose local food at supermarkets. This supports local farmers and lessens transportation energy. Get really local and start a vegetable garden or plant a fruit tree!

May

No plastic bags

Use cloth bags to bring home your groceries.  Keep some in the car, near your coupons, or close to your shopping list.

June

Conserve water

Did you know that for every minute you spend in the shower, you use five gallons of water? You can reduce your total water usage dramatically by simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth and shortening your daily shower.

July

Rebuy

Buying recycled products creates a larger demand for them. More demand means more manufacturers will try selling more recycled products. You could also consider only buying products that can be recycled. For example, some yogurt comes in recyclable containers. Buying the recyclable yogurt container allows you to reduce waste by recycling the container afterwards. 

August

Go paperless

Pay bills online. If every household in the united states paid bills online, we could save 18 million trees each year.

September

Power down

Two-thirds of electricity used in american homes powers lights and appliances. Keep in mind electricity production generates more than 1.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Save energy by turning off lights when you leave a room.    

October

If you must drive: 

  • Maintain your vehicle. Check and correct tire pressure inflation, remove extra weight, (i.e. Roof racks) and follow the maintenance schedule in your vehicle manual.
  • Think before you drive. Can you take public transport? Can you work from home? Can you plan your route? 
  • Carpool. If you drive 25 miles a day, 10 percent of your monthly carbon emissions will be saved by carpooling with someone from work or picking up the kids from school.

November

Go green at work:

  • Make it a habit to turn off your computer and the power strip it's plugged into when you leave for the day. Otherwise, you're still burning energy even if you're not burning the midnight oil. (check with your it department to make sure the computer doesn't need to be on to run backups or other maintenance.) During the day, setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks can cut energy use by 70 percent. Remember, screen savers don't save energy.
  • Make it a habit to print on both sides or use the back side of old documents for scrap paper or drafts. Avoid color printing and print in draft mode whenever feasible.
  • Make it a habit to think before you print: could this be read or stored online instead? 
  • Make it a policy to post employee manuals and similar materials online, rather than distribute print copies. They're easier to update that way too.

December

Green your pet

Pet parents should help their furry (or feathered) “children” live a greener life too. Adopt from a local shelter, spay or neuter your animals to prevent overpopulation, switch to natural and organic foods and treats, scoop up poop into biodegradable bags, offer toys made from recycled materials and use non-toxic pet care products.

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The DENR Sustainability Team is composed of representatives from 27 DENR divisions, offices and programs. Its mission is "to inspire a culture of sustainability within DENR by promoting environmentally responsible actions." More information on DENR Sustainability is available at portal.ncdenr.org/web/sustainability/home
Information on sustainability in buildings and lands in North Carolina is available on the state sustainability team NC Project Green website, www.ncprojectgreen.org.
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