Life in the Green Lane: This year let’s build a community.

New Years resolutions and I have a pretty tenuous relationship. January rolls around and I make some vow or another but by mid-February I am back to my old ways.

Not this year. I have made one resolution that I know I can keep: I’m going local. From farmer’s market food to jewelry crafted by art students, if I can’t meet the owner, I’m gonna pass.

It’s a pretty catchy trend. Whether it’s for financial reasons or peace of mind, Opinion Research reports that 80 percent of us are planning to be greener this year.

Here are 10 easy ways to get a little more green in your life:

  1. These boots were made for walking. Is there one of us who doesn’t make a resolution to get more fit? Doubtful. But while I’m all about burning calories at the gym, being active otherwise is just as important. And since last year was tough on most of us, why not support local, small businesses? Take inventory of what’s around you and keep your car safely parked. Walk to meet a friend at a local coffee shop. Pick out your next outfit at the boutique around the corner. Make a date at a local pub. Let’s, you know, build a community.
  2. Get off the bottle. Bottled water is the second-largest beverage category by volume, but those bottles are starting to add up. Out of the 50 billion plastic water bottles used in 2006, 38 billion were thrown away. (Not to mention the oil it takes to make the bottles and transport them.) You can join me—and Brita® and Nalgene® Outdoor Products—by taking the pledge to help reduce bottled water waste. And for each of their refillable bottle purchased, a $4 donation will be made to the Blue Planet Run Foundation, a nonprofit working to provide safe drinking water to 200 million people by 2027.
  3. Stop the insanity. I really like receiving some catalogs, but others get tossed immediately. Want to reduce the direct mail you receive? Visit And if you make a donation to the cause, you can get on the black list to ensure your name isn’t sold to other direct mail companies.
  4. Do a walk-through. In less than 10 minutes I lowered the temp on the thermostat and my refrigerator. Saving the environment and saving pennies so I can replace the old appliances with EnergyStar-certified ones when the time comes.
  5. Hang out in the bathroom. Did you know a leaking toilet wastes anywhere between 30 and 500 gallons of water every day? (And we can’t afford to waste water in the south!) A quick way to check if yours is leaking is to put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the dye shows up in the bowl after 15 or so minutes, there’s a leak. And don’t fret, a plumber (or even a guy) often isn’t even necessary.
  6. Recycle. Really. Just do it.
  7. Eat your veggies. If you can plant a garden that’s great, but if you are like me and were born without a green thumb (and live in a condo) it’s tough. A green alternative? Hit up the nearest farmer’s market. You might be surprised at what you can find, and the money you can save, just down the street. For example, at the Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market there are not only local farmers, but H&F Bakery (a top 10 bakery in the country by Bon Appetit) sells its breads retail and The Spotted Trotter peddles his cured meats and sausages. Foodie heaven.
  8. There’s a reason cinnamon reminds you of the holidays. Because sometimes it’s hard to get to a farmer’s market–and sometimes the local farmer’s just aren’t there–we all have to hit up the grocery store. But whether you’re at Whole Foods, a neighborhood market or a mega-grocer, focus on seasonal and local fruits and vegetables—sure it’s tempting to pick out whatever sounds good, but when that blueberry has traveled across the globe it’s hardly sustainable. (The Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market link above has a great Harvest Calendar to show you what’s in season.)
  9. Get a little judgy. Since you’re already there, don’t forget to take in the whole package. Products that have excess packaging not only have excess preservatives, but they take up more space. To reduce the amount of waste you produce, buy products in returnable and recyclable containers and recycle as much as you can. And opting for goods that aren’t meant to be stored for long periods of time benefits not only the landfill, but your metabolism.
  10. Just. Say. Neither. Ladies it’s time to give up the paper and plastic. Last year 12 million barrels of oil were used to make the 88.5 billion plastic bags used at grocery stores across the country. (And it actually takes four times more energy to make paper bags!) Next time when you’re asked paper or plastic, hand over your personal bag with a smile.

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