New Year's 2009 GreenSolutions

Editor’s Note: This year I asked all the Eco Chick contributors to send me their New Year’s Resolutions, and they really impressed me with their plans! I bet you will be too- interesting to note the similarities (reducing plastic, teaching kids about environmentalism, cooking more) from all these writers, and the differences. I’ve noted where everyone lives so you can get an idea of where these Greensolutions are coming from.

We’d love to hear your Greensolutions! Leave them in the comment box to solidify your plans and inspire others!

Kim Jordan Allen, Connecticut, rural/small town

Teach my children about personal responsibility and the environment:
using minimal amounts of water (my son just learned to wash his hands and wants to stand at the bathroom sink as long as possible with the water running, so that is a great opportunity to teach,) recycling, caring for plants and animals, and generally enjoying nature.

Spend Less Money:
in general, as we know, spending less minimizes one’s carbon footprint. With times being what they are, there is great incentive to grow it, make it, recycle/reuse it, sew it, or fix it. In our house, with kids, food is usually the biggest expense. Buying organic and local can be pricey sometimes, so focusing on not wasting anything and utilizing every crumb is my goal.

Clear out all the old piles of random odds and ends that need to be disposed of:
plastics, batteries, CFL’s, cell phones, and other household waste. Earth911.org is my savior for this stuff.

Eat as little processed food as possible and eat local: To avoid those sneaky ingredients that seem to be in everything, like corn syrup, soy lecithin, whey powder, etc. I am trying to cook my heart out and buy less boxed goods.

Melissa Goldberg
Melissa Goldberg, New Jersey suburbs

Reduce my family’s waste — In my household we recycle everything and anything that can be. This year I would like to move that one step forward and rather then recycling more, I would like to reduce the amount of waste that my family generates.

Jar and freeze more food for the winter months — This past summer our garden was abundant with veggies. With our CSA and garden we were giving food away. This summer I plan and learning more about storing my food for the winter months so we have a freezer full of great veggies rather then depending on what is available in the market.

Help get my community on the road to sustainability
— For the past year, myself along with 10 other members of my community were part of a Sustainable Task Force where we created a road map of what we think our town needs to do become more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint. In 2009, we hope to move this along by putting the suggested tactics into action.

Make my house more energy efficient
— Built in 1955, our home has many places where we loose heat especially our front door. I would like to upgrade our front door reducing the draft and saving energy.

Teach children the importance of helping our environment
— I would like to create a program in my son’s school to teach the children the little things they can do to help our environment. It is hard to teach the parents so let the kids do it for me!

Alicia Lubowski, New York City

To Connect With Nature:
Since I am a city dweller, it is easy to feel disconnected from nature. Sometimes, for example, I long to see a full starry night sky and not what I think looks like a star, but is actually an airplane or some other unidentified flying object! I intend to be more thankful for the land, the seasons, and natural resources that enliven and sustain the urban environment and to relish thoroughly those sublime windows onto nature’s majesty.

To Smile at The Morning Glory:
I am kind of a vampire and so a big item on my agenda is to become more of a morning person. For those who know me, this statement might make them laugh in disbelief or take bets on my feeble willpower. I’d like to wake up at dawn to watch the sunrise and shift to the new solar surprises and rhythms of that time and space.

To Do Without Have To:
I’d like to cultivate more contentment, playfulness, and appreciation for doing things that sometimes feel like a push, a “have to”, a rule, and a burden. I want to work on expressing sincere gratitude, freedom, and enthusiasm rather than acting from feeling like I “have to”, be it a deadline, a moral judgment, or a routine schedule. I am thankful for increasingly greening my life, which gives me a chance to exercise living with conscious intention, community, and joy.

To Sweep Away the Plastic: I’d like to continue to eliminate conventional plastics and try harder to get rid of the sneaky ones that show up encasing natural toothbrushes and other well-intentioned sustainable purchases.

To Forge New Paths:
While the economy going down the drain makes this a very difficult time, I hope 2009 will generate new beginnings full of inspiration, hopefulness, and unimagined promise.


Ann Benoit, Berkeley, California

1. Avoid buying any new books
until i check my local library to see if they have a copy. If they don’t have a copy, I can check to see if they will order it. Donate any books + magazines that I own but don’t use to libraries or other local organizations.

2. Use my bike and walking to run more errands on the weekends

3. Make a more conscious effort to conserve energy
in my apartment

4. Consume less!
If this economy has taught me anything, its that I don’t need to buy as much. Using what I already have in new ways is a lot less wasteful and a lot more fun!

Danelle Brown, New York City

Prepare more meals and reduce on takeout-
Not only is this resolution healthier for me, its economical, and reduces the waste that is generated by takeout containers.

Refill my printer’s ink cartridges verses purchasing new ones– I used to just drop off my empty ink cartridges to Staples, have them recycle them and purchase new ones. About a month ago, I walked by a local store that refills all HP & Epson Ink cartridges and it’s about time I walk in.

Educate, inspire and strengthen women’s confidence and awareness of our bodies’ natural abilities, strength and amazement. More and more, women are becoming disconnected to their bodies. With the addition of common medicine, pills, surgeries, products, media and many others causes, the sacred functions and natural beauty that lives within every woman is slowly slipping away.

Stephanie eco chick
Stephanie Rogers, North Carolina

Expand my organic garden and use water from a rainbarrel as much as possible. I grew veggies for the first time last year and this year, I plan to grow even more, but I’m going to do everything I can to use water wisely. I’m going to make my own soaker hoses as well.

Buy more food in bulk to reduce packaging, save money and lessen my dependence on packaged foods. Staples like flour, sugar, dried beans, rice, nuts and pasta are available in big bins at my local health food store and I plan to use these as well as the food I grow myself as the basis of my diet.

Get more involved in my community.
I hope to join green efforts in my area, get to know more people, and eat and shop local even more than I already do. I love Western North Carolina so much and as a transplant I feel like I need to earn my place here and give back a little.

Courtney Tenz, Cologne, Germany

My hubby and I have already done a lot to keep our carbon footprint as close to one earth as we can (from going completely carless for the last three years to sharing our four walls with neighbors to help keep energy usage low) but this year we’re trying to move beyond thoughts of pollution control and more into the realms of lowering our already low consumption. So here’s what I’m attempting to do in 2009 to keep from adding to our overflowing landfills:

1. Plant a veggie and flower garden.
Schrebergartens are all the rage in Germany and this year, we plan to get our hands on one. Small plots of land, these gardens were introduced post-war to keep people from starving and the tradition of growing your own food remains strong (seriously strong, as the only way to get one is to find someone who’s no longer able to care for it). Since we live in the most populated part of the country, land space for home gardens is rare and the balcony doesn’t quite cut it if you want to grow more than tomatoes and herbs so we’ve got the word out that we’re on the hunt for a
garden to call our own … and when we get our hands on one of these, we promise to share all the space with our friends. Nothing says loving like a pumpkin patch of your own!

2. Make my own things
… from duvet covers to curtains to pillow covers. I may have nearly failed home ec but the rule I’ve set is that in redecorating my house this year, I’ve got to do the textiles all on
my own. That way I know no sweatshop was used, no crazy chemicals were sprayed on my bedsheets, and best of all, I won’t be throwing away any packaging.

3. Which brings me to: Banishing plastic permanently from my life. I’ve got glass jars instead of plastic tossaways, porcelain instead of plastic platters, and I always use canvas bags. Still, my plastic
garbage pile keeps getting higher (here we have to sort it out to be burned – my worst nightmare but not unusual) because of all the packaging. So this year, I’m searching for the brands that believe in
sustainable packaging and not buying those individual-wrapped cookies and chocolates that I don’t need anyway. And I’m getting my hands on a reusable water bottle.

4. I’ll also be skipping some of my previous indulgences this year by eating less soy, sugar, and chocolate. I may be vegan but a vegan who substitutes meat with soy schnitzels and soy nuggets and soy milk and soy yadda-yadda is not necessarily doing better for the environment. So I’m going back to basics in my cooking and ditching the replacements. Who needs a soy burger when you can have an mushroom one? And sugar and chocolate, well, I could go on and on about why they’re bad for the earth but I’ll be more vain here and just say my body could seriously do without so much of it.

Starre Hat Small
Starre Vartan, Connecticut urban suburbs

Dance More: I love to dance, it doesn’t cost much, and it makes me piles happier than a bunch of new stuff (yes, even more than new shoes!) I’ve always tried to get into meditating every day- my new rule is that I either have to dance OR meditate every day- I think I can do this!

Work Less: I’ve become something I never thought possible in my slacker youth- a total workaholic. I LOVE what I do, but I’ve gotta cut back- it’s aging me!

Swim More: If asked to list my top 10 favorite things to do in life, swimming would come in at 3 or 4 (with dancing taking the other spot)- I will swim in almost anything and am planning on topping last year’s list of new swimming explorations. Also, I’m going to get a super-comfy, flattering, eco bathingsuit that I LOVE! Yes, I will share my search with all you lovely readers.

Do Less of the Stuff I Don’t Like and More of The Stuff I LOVE: Which encompasses all of the above….and more!

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.