12 Steps to a Greener 2012

The Worldwatch Institute—an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C., that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues—recently published these 12 tips we can all try in order to ring in a greener 2012.

1. Recycle

What you can do:

Put a separate container next to your trash can or printer, making it easier to recycle your bottles, cans, and paper.

2. Turn Off the Lights

What you can do:   

Earth Hour happens only once a year, but you can make an impact every day by turning off lights during bright daylight, or whenever you will be away for an extended period of time.

3. Make the Switch to Fluorescent

What you can do: 

A bill in Congress to eliminate incandescent in the United States failed in 2011, but you can still make the switch at home. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use only 20-30 percent of the energy required by incandescents to create the same amount of light, and LEDs use only 10 percent, helping reduce both electric bills and carbon emissions.

4. Turn On the Tap

What you can do: 

Fill up your glasses and reusable water bottles with water from the sink. The United States has more than 160,000 public water systems, and by eliminating bottled water you can help to keep nearly 1 million tons of bottles out of the landfill, as well as save money on water costs.

5. Turn Down the Heat

What you can do: 

Turn down your thermostat when you leave for work, or use a programmable thermostat to control your heating settings.

6. Support Food Recovery Programs

What you can do: 

Encourage your local restaurants and grocery stores to partner with food rescue organizations, like City Harvest in New York City or Second Harvest Heartland in Minnesota. Go through your cabinets and shelves and donate any non-perishable canned and dried foods that you won’t be using to your nearest food bank or shelter.

7. Buy Local

What you can do: 

Instead of relying exclusively on large supermarkets, consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers.

8. Get Out and Ride

What you can do: 

If available, use your city’s bike share program to run short errands or commute to work. Memberships are generally inexpensive (only $75 for the year in Washington, D.C.), and by eliminating transportation costs, as well as a gym membership, you can save quite a bit of money! Even if without bike share programs, many cities and towns are incorporating bike lanes and trails, making it easier and safer to use your bike for transportation and recreation.

9. Share a Car

What you can do: 

Join a car share program! As of July 2011, there were 26 such programs in the U.S., with more than 560,000 people sharing over 10,000 vehicles. Even if you don’t want to get rid of your own car, using a shared car when traveling in a city can greatly reduce the challenges of finding parking (car share programs have their own designated spots), as well as your environmental impact as you run errands or commute to work.

10. Plant a Garden

What you can do: 

Plant some lettuce in a window box. Lettuce seeds are cheap and easy to find, and when planted in full sun, one window box can provide enough to make several salads worth throughout a season.

11. Compost

What you can do: 

If you are unsure about the right ways to compost, websites such as HowToCompost.org and organizations such as the U.S. Composting Council, provide easy steps to reuse your organic waste.

12. Reduce Your Meat Consumption

What you can do: 

You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan, but by simply cutting down on the amount of meat you consume can go a long way. Consider substituting one meal day with a vegetarian option.

For the complete article, see 12 Simple Steps for Going Green in 2012.

Photo from Fotolia

Related: 5 Reasons Why People Don’t Recycle and 5 Reasons They Should and 30 Days to a Greener You!


Howard C.
.5 years ago

We do pretty much just about everything you have mentioned but I know that there are still too many people who do not.

Shin Takahashi
Shin Takahashi5 years ago

Very good ideas that we have to practice from 2012 to greener earth forever.Thanks.

Danielle I.
Danielle I5 years ago

Thanks - I am already doing just about everything on the list and those that I aren't doing are because I don't drive or have a car. I walk. I recycle everything I can, make compost, grow my own veg, have a water filter so only drink tap water anyway.... so am doing my bit :)

Kim Stueck
Kim Stueck5 years ago

Good ideas. Thanks

Debi C.
Deborah C5 years ago

Very good article, thanks!

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T5 years ago

Great info, thank you..

jayasri amma
jayasri amma5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

KARLOLINA G5 years ago

Thank you.

KS Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

heather g.
heather g5 years ago

Vancouver BC has at least 3-4 car share groups. Unfortunately, they're non-existent in smaller communities, but I'm sure they would still be profitable and well-supported. Car-sharing would be my first option if it was available.....