New Year's GreenSolutions


Right after Christmas I always start thinking about how I need a serious cleanse from all the holiday eating and drinking, not to mention all the junk clogging up my brain from seeing people I haven’t seen in so long, travelling all over the East Coast and generally ignoring healthy routines and work. Unlike many Hipper Than Thou writers and other media folks, I love me some good New Year’s resolutions. The cold bare branches of January offer a clean slate- one that I’m in dire need of! Every year I try to lower my impact on the environment, so here is the section of the resolutions to do with the beautiful Earth I so love:

90% of my clothing purchases must be reduced, reused, and/or recycled.

-I love clothes, and before 2006, (and before Jill Danyelle’s amazing blog fiftyRX3, which enlightened me tremendously) I figured that I would just ignore the environmental impact of my clothes, since so much of my life was eco-friendly. Now I have no excuse, with whole brick-and-mortar and online stores dedicated to ecofashion, crafting, and vintage clothes.

Offset CO2 from travelling; make carbon credit purchases part of travel budget.

-Last year I barely travelled at all (for me); this year I will be spending around 2 months on the road, and I will be taking some long flights. I want to visit my Dad in Australia, for example. I can’t NOT fly, but I can buy some credits for my journeys. Credits can be bought from sites like Uniglobe or Carbon Planet, which support alternative energy sources like wind power. Or you could pay to have a tree planted for every flight at Treeflights.

Line dry my washing as often as humanly possible.
-A few months ago I wrote this article for E Magazine about line drying clothes instead of using the dryer. In it, I wrote:

“Six to 10 percent of residential energy use goes towards the electric dryer. If Americans, or even just New Englanders, would use the clothesline or wooden drying racks, the savings would be enough to close several power plants.”

Put ALL my electronic devices on a power strip so I can shut them off and stop energy vampires from wasting electricity.

-OK, the last time I wrote about this, I put power strips in about half the places in my house where it is applicable. This month I’m going to finish the job!

Volunteer somewhere on a regular basis.

-I’ve mostly worked for non-profits, so I figured I didn’t need to also do volunteer work. Now that I’m a full-time student again, I need to do something to give back concretely. I’m not sure what I’ll do yet, but I’ll report back on what I find. I’ll probably start with Volunteer Match, which Ann wrote about back in June.


About Starre Vartan
Starre Vartan is editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life.


  1. Nice article but I feel bound to correct one small factual error. Carbon Planet retails carbon credits sourced exclusively from forestry projects, not alternative energy projects. One reason for this is we wanted to ensure that, for each credit someone buys, actual CO2 is removed from the air. I believe it’s far better for the planet to support properly managed reforestation projects than ad-hoc tree planting schemes or wind farms. Cheers Dave (CEO, Carbon Planet).

  2. Dave – thanks for mentioning the ad-hoc tree planting schemes etc.. I was approached by a company that was planning a reforestation project that entailed planting NON-NATIVE trees in the western US. When I asked them about it (ie: the species – where they were planting – what scientists were backing up their research etc,) they never responded. PLEASE make sure the offsetting you do is responsibly managed. I myself have debated the ‘guilt-tax’ factor of it, but agree that to increase awareness and mindful action is a good thing, especially in the instance Starre mentioned, which is flying. Some people have to fly for their work etc.. and offsetting is a way to give back in that instance.

  3. Thanks for the correction Dave!

  4. @Kim: I could not agree more. For more info on the tree-planting undertaken by my company see our Forests NSW FAQ. I don’t accept that buying carbon credits is a ‘guilt tax’, but its simply finally paying for something that should never have been free in the first place. Its an issue of responsibility rather than guilt. Carbon credits are simply a unit of exchange for environmental benefits. In our case they certify the removal of a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere and the storage of that carbon for 100 years. We buy our carbon credits off people who use the CO2 sucking power of trees as a mechanism to remove and store that carbon.
    @Starre: no worries.

  5. I guess its the idea that people can just give money and feel they are doing something for the environment, that concerns me. People could thereby continue living in excess if they just perpetually give money to whatever cause they feel offsets their ways. Change, as we all know, needs to come a bit sooner than merely offsetting. I can see the benefits of it. You are right, its a price/expense that people perhaps should have been aware of already.

  6. my next step this year is to green up my wardrobe. i totally don’t understand the carbon credits and how they help anything at all.

    as an aside, if you put your desktop PC on a power strip and turn it off regularly, you’ll run the CMOS battery down which can cause problems.

    happy new year!

  7. thanks for the mention starre! happy new year!

  8. @Kim: Of course offsetting is not the only solution, indeed we emphasise a policy of Measure – Reduce – then Offset. The point you make is only slightly valid I believe. If there is a genuine cost to be borne for emitting carbon then people will be much more likely to consider ways of reducing their emissions. As it stands now most people happily pump CO2 into the air at no financial cost to themselves. That cost must be borne by the Earth itself, and as a consequence all of us.

    The European experience with carbon offsets has been somewhat tarnished by a variety of cowboy operations I am afraid, but the reality is, at least in our case, each carbon credit you buy certifies the removal of a tonne of CO2 from the air and the storage of that carbon for 100 years.

    @Bekabug: There are many types of carbon credits, some better than others, but, in most cases they are a medium of exchange, transferring money from polluters (ie you and me and others) to projects that reduce atmospheric carbon levels. It’s a similar principal to paying to have your garbage collected really. Please take a read of our carbon credits FAQ for a fuller explanation.

  9. I am already on board regarding the dryer (also because thankfully they are very much a rarity in Europe) and regarding the volunteering, but I need to up my game regarding offsetting my travel and recycling my clothes! That is totally something to work towards in 2016. As for the electronic devices on a power strip, I need to research this further, but as I am there, I wanted to mention that in late 2015 I discovered fixing cooperatives and I could not recommend them more. Broken toaster or hoover? They will fix it if it can be fixed, for a donation. My local organisation is called Restart Project and I would recommend you look up what exist near you: a great way to avoid stuff ending up in the dumpster, especially when an easy fix could give it a new lease of life!

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