By YES! Coordinator Jim DeVries
With the onset of 2016 most of us probably made a New Year’s resolution to eat less, lose weight or perform some other task designed to make us a better person. Unfortunately by the end of January most of these resolutions will be long forgotten. This year I want to challenge you to make a resolution that will not only make you feel good, but also one that will be good for our planet.
This year YES! teams have been learning about climate change with the help of Climate Generation. There is no disputing that our climate is warming, but the good news is that with small steps by many people we can make a difference. If you commit to making a resolution and try it for two months, most experts say this will turn it into a habit.
Some easy yet effective resolutions to try:
- Turn down the thermostat – A two degree difference will mean your furnace will not have to turn on as often, thus saving you money and reducing your carbon output by approximately 500 pounds per year. To compensate for the cooler temperatures in your house simply put on a sweatshirt or sweater when you are at home. Over time your body will become accustomed to the lower temperatures and it won’t be necessary to add layers.
- Don’t let your vehicle idle – It takes more fuel to run your vehicle for ten seconds than it does to start the engine. When you don’t need to keep the engine running, turn it off to save fuel and reduce your carbon emissions. Warming up your car on cold mornings for more than 30 seconds does not really pay off. Cars these days are designed to heat more efficiently when driving than when at idle. So start driving shortly after you start the vehicle and it will actually warm up quicker and put the fuel to good use.
- Unplug you cell phone charger – Leaving your phone charger plugged in when you are not charging the phone is a waste of energy. Phantom loads (energy used to keep a device in stand-by mode) are found in many household objects like your phone charger or DVD player. These phantom loads may seem insignificant to you individually, but with millions being used every day the amount can be astronomical. Do your part and make that one small change.
- Recycle plastic bottles – Each year Americans throw away over 35 billion plastic bottles. These bottles should be recycled where they can be re-purposed into other products, not thrown into a landfill where they will sit for years. Many YES! teams have been instrumental in installing hydration stations in their schools to help eliminate the need for disposal bottles. With these hydration stations students can fill one of their reusable water bottles and the counter on the station keeps track of the number of bottles saved from the landfill.
These are four simple things you can make a resolution to do this year, but it is not a complete list by any means. Remember that it takes about 60 days to create a habit out of something new so don’t give up on your new year’s resolution too early.