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Earth Matters: Consider these environmentally friendly resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are not necessarily stupid and futile. My mother often lamented that the road to Hell was paved with good intentions, hinting that the intentions by themselves do nothing.

Though good intentions and resolutions often do end up being just that, they can also be the basis for significant accomplishments or the beginning of notable change. Great deeds or profound change happen only when an idea blooms or a commitment brings action.

With all that in mind, I offer some resolutions for your consideration.

Eat a More Earth-Friendly Diet. Even if an outright vegetarian diet (which uses fewer resources to produce) sounds extreme, pledge to reduce the worst things from your diet. Cut back on the meat you eat, especially factory-raised stuff shipped long distances. If you really crave red meat, buy locally raised, grass-fed beef and encourage your market to look for local or regional options.

Buy More Fresh Food. Fresh, unprocessed food is not just healthier, it has less packaging, is usually shipped shorter distances and tastes better because it’s been on the road a shorter time.

Buy Local. While buying more locally or regionally grown food makes sense, buying all sorts of things locally is also good for the environment. Furniture made in this part of the United States, as one example, not only travels a shorter distance to your store, it employs American workers, is usually of higher quality and made of real wood instead of the flake-board alternative from across the Pacific. Recycled paper from our own American Eagle Papermill in Tyrone is another great example of a commonly used product made close to home that we often ship in from other countries.

Shop with the Environment in Mind. Besides things like paper, look for other products that are recycled (like recycled plastic decking manufactured in Pennsylvania and neighboring states), can be recycled and are nontoxic. Resolve to always take a cloth bag when you shop, even at the department store.

Reduce your Transportation Footprint. Walk, ride your bike or take the bus when you can. Resolve to use the car less, whatever way you can do it. When walking or bicycling is impractical, at least try to plan your auto trips to run multiple errands on one car trip. Don’t forget carpooling either.

Lead by Example and Encourage Others. Some of us are apprehensive to encourage environmentally sustainable practices to friends, relatives or politicians, fearing someone won’t listen. Figure out how to share those good habits in a pleasant, non-confrontational, nonpartisan way. Leading by example is often the most effective way to convey these messages.

Make Less Trash; Recycle More. Recycling is the most common act of environmental stewardship in most parts of the United States. This is another way you can lead by example, too. No recycling at work or your apartment building? Politely ask the boss or landlord where the recycling containers are and if you can help set up the program.

This talk of personal transformation should remind us of that famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

John Frederick (jfrederick@ ircenvironment.org) wishes all his loyal readers a happy and environmentally sound New Year!

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