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20 Ways To "Go Green" In 2013

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to be more environmentally conscious, here are some tips to help you achieve that goal.

If you want to be kinder to the planet and save some money at the same time, here are 20 ways to go green in 2013.

  1. Buy fresh, local food at East Bay farmers markets. Some are closed for the winter months. You can find a full list for Northern California here. Some farmers markets are open year-round. They include those in Walnut Creek, Concord, Martinez, Danville, Moraga, Pleasanton and Pinole. 
  2. Have your kids make their friends birthday cards and bring gifts in decorated paper bags or a cool reusable bag. Kids love getting a handmade card — as do adults.
  3. Bring your own bags when you shop for groceries. 
  4. Shop at thrift stores. There are a wide variety in most communities in the East Bay, including stores in Alamo, Dublin, El Cerrito, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill and San Leandro. A complete list can be found here.
  5. Rip up some lawn and create new garden beds this spring. Then, grow your own food this summer. Your kids will eat more veggies if they grow them themselves.
  6. Dispose of your hazardous waste properly. There are facilities throughout the East Bay that specialize in e-waste, mercury, pharmaceuticals, batteries and household waste. Save The Bay has a complete list of places to dispose of waste.
  7. Buy a share in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm to support local, sustainable farming and enjoy fresh veggies weekly. Local Harvest has a list of these farms and other organic food information.
  8. Ditch those dreaded plastic sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags. An option is ReUsies, created by two Seattle moms.
  9. Cut down on car trips and run your errands on your bike or on foot.
  10. Pack cloth napkins instead of paper towels in school lunches.
  11. Look for an environmental service project you can do with your children, such as removing trash and non-native plants and planting trees in their place. Save Mount Diablo is one of many organizations that organize such programs.
  12. Got an older house? Install double pane windows and you’ll see immediate savings on your heating bill.
  13. Plant a tree. A certified arborist can help you select and plant trees that will provide privacy and shade and even years of fresh fruit.
  14. Dump your bottled water costs. You could save hundreds of dollars by buying snazzy metal water bottles for everyone in the family and a personal filter for your kitchen faucet.
  15. Organize a Halloween costume swap in September. This can be a great service project for a Girl Scout troop.
  16. Replace your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy.
  17. Expand your hand-me-down circle. Organize a clothing swap for your kids’ preschool or a group of friends. Everyone brings gently used and clean kids’ clothes to your garage and parents can take as many items as they donated. The rest goes to charity. You can also swap toys and books.
  18. Replace your showerheads with low-flow models. Low-flow showerheads can save you up to 15 percent on water heating costs and reduce your water usage by as much as 20,000 gallons a year.
  19. Save up to 30 percent on your monthly heating bills by having a home energy audit done by a professional. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has home energy saving tips on their website.
  20. Give service and experience gifts this year instead of stuff. Make homemade gift certificates for services and experiences that could include tech support, dinner and a movie, yard work, pet walking or babysitting, or a day of organizing support for the clutter challenged.

TELL US: Do you think you could stick to a green New Year's resolution? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments sections below.

Amanda January 13, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Eat no or less meat.
Steven Mehlman January 13, 2013 at 05:23 PM
We just signed a contract. To put solar panels on our roof. There are options available where people can get so,ars with no money up front, although the savings are not as great as when one prepays the costs of the system. With these possibilities, it seems like a no-brainier to add solar panels to any roof that gets sunlight (even if there may be shadows at different times of the day because micro inverters now exist which will allow the remainder of the panels to continue working.)
c5 January 14, 2013 at 02:21 PM
the numbers work pretty well here, mostly because we pay extraordinarily high electric rates (some of which is to pay for solar panels) and because there are very large government subsidies to install solar.
Robinson Crusoe January 14, 2013 at 06:07 PM
If you want to save money on energy check out the website BUILDITSOLAR.COM They have hundreds of ideas on things to make or different methods of doing things that can save you literally hundreds of dollars a year for very little or no money up front. One of my favorite tricks to save on heat that while it looks bad, actually works great is putting big bubble wrap on single pane windows. I did this at the last place I was on the bedroom window and the room was 5 or 10 degrees warmer. Another very interesting piece of information is that if you seal the interior of your house well like around plugs and light fixtures it can make the same difference as having insulation in the first place! A few more tips that actually make a big difference are, compost your food, you remove it from the waste stream and get great soil in a few weeks to months for free wear extra clothing instead of using the heat as much Use an electric blanket instead of heat, you can use it on the couch too If it's yellow let it mellow. Replace the ornamental only plants with beautiful edible plants in your yard
Venerable Bede January 14, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Support research to develop the ability to store the amount of energy generated by patting yourself on the back.
Barbara Ambler-Thomas January 18, 2013 at 12:05 AM
The website for the Moraga Farmers' Market on Sundays and the Walnut Creek Shadelands Farmers' Market on Saturdays is http://www.cafarmersmkts.com. For some reason the link on the article sends you to Seasonal Chef website that doesn't list the Shadelands market. Both markets are open year round rain or shine!
Katie Malone June 26, 2013 at 05:48 PM
I found a great company that focuses on green living and being able to earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at http://wcp.momsprovide.com

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