As the days get longer...Personal Sustainability resolve gets stronger by Gia Machlin, January 05 2010, 1 Comment

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Wow, I had really worked myself into a tizzy by the end of 2009. I was feeling disappointed about the outcome of Copenhagen, and, well, worried about the future of our planet. Closer to home, I started to really take offense at all the waste associated with the holiday season. Add to that the dismal economy, and the fact that the sun started to set before my youngest child got out of her afterschool classes, well I was feeling pretty bummed. Luckily for my family, and for you (were you getting sick of my rants?) I snapped out of it. Not sure if it was the week I spent skiing in Vermont feeling closer to nature than is ever possible here in NYC, or the passing of the shortest day of the year mark, or the break from the school/work routine, but one thing is for sure - THIS IS A TIME FOR RENEWAL. This is a time when we discard our failures and frustrations of the past year and start over. So many of you have written to me about your attempts to live a more sustainable life and the obstacles you've encountered along the way. You may have read about my attempt to participate in NO IMPACT WEEK only to throw up my hands and say - next time! Well it's OK - it's time for a "do-over" - just like the line from one of my favorite movies, City Slickers, when Billy Crystal's character tells Daniel Stern's character that he gets to wipe his slate clean and start over. So for all of you out there who want to renew your commitment to greening your life, GO FOR IT. Let me help you, let all of us at EcoPlum help you. Send us your questions, concerns, let us help you find resources, tell us what you would like to read about, to have us investigate for you, tell us what kinds of products you would like to access, think of us as your personal green trainers. Let's start by giving you a list of ways to start: Here are 10 suggested Personal Sustainability Practices (PSPs) with some resources to get you started. Make a pledge to take on one, or more, of these for 2010. Or make up your own.

#1: Stop buying plastic disposable water bottles. Carry around your own reusable bottle in your backpack, briefcase, shoulder bag, or purse.

#2: Stop using disposable plastic shopping bags. Carry around at least one Chicobag with you - these definitely fit easily into your pocketbook, briefcase, even pocket.

#3: Recycle at home and at work.'s widget is a great resource for this. Also check out our "What to do with your stuff" page for where and how to recycle different types of materials.

#4: Stop using disposable coffee cups. Carry around your own reusable coffee mug. Ask for a ceramic "for here" cup if you plan to hang around the coffee shop to enjoy your coffee.

#5: Stop buying wrapping paper - use colorful newspaper, children's art projects, reusable gift bags or cloth for your gifts. If you must buy it, get recycled gift wrap.

#6: Stop using disposable wrap and bags for your kids' lunches. Instead purchase reusable bags and lunch materials.

#7: Eat less meat. Reducing the amount of meat you eat can have a significant impact on the environment - methane from cows is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

#8: Take public transportation whenever you are in a city. Check this out for a guide of public transportation options in your city.

#9: Ask yourself "do I really need it?" when you are about to buy a new appliance. If you do need it, make sure it is Energy Star rated.

#10: Stop using paper plates and utensils. If absolutely necessary, buy ones made of recycled and biodegradable material.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. We are here to help you every step of the way. Please share your PSP pledges with us. And stay tuned for ways to measure your progress. HAPPY NEW YEAR. Hoping you find a good balance of peace, happiness, contribution to society and personal fulfillment in 2010.

(This post was updated on 1/7/2011 with new links)