“Be the Change”:
A Green Monthly Planner for 2009
by Kate Heyhoe
Adopt one new green habit once a month, and keep it going all year long.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Ghandi. Even if the journey starts with baby steps, walk forward. Both Obama and McCain ran on platforms of “change.” If change is what you really want, take ownership: start making changes at home and in your own life.
Sound tough? Rethink your strategy, reduce it to something manageable. “Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win” is an oft-quoted bit of wisdom from author and educator, Jonathan Kozol.
Living green isn’t something occasional. It’s something to do every day. Try adapting month by month, like this:
January: Eat less meat. If you’re not a vegetarian, switch to meatless meals several times a week. If you’re already a vegetarian, invite your carnivorous friends to meat-free meals, and let them help make them.
February: Improve water heater efficiency. Insulate the pipes from heater to tap. Adjust the water heater thermometer to a low or medium setting (the high setting is usually overkill).
March: Plant seeds or trees. Preferably with edible benefits, like produce, nuts and fruits. Tend to them organically.
April: Capture water. Keep a jug by the tap, to water your garden. (Think of all the water you waste just waiting for hot water to reach the tap.)
May: Switch to low-impact brands. These are ones with less packaging or less water. If you drink Gatorade, for instance, buy the powdered version. Bottled versions require more fuel to transport. Ditto for laundry detergent: powder beats liquids in the good green race.
June: Skip the electric rush-hour. Run dishwashers and laundry machines late at night, or at times of off-peak consumption (avoid 5:00 to 8:00 PM.)
July: Dispense with disposables. Pack re-usable plates, cutlery and cups for picnics and barbecues.
August: Run ceiling fans. They use less electricity than air conditioners, and generate fewer greenhouse gases.
September: Hold an appliance swap. Or organize a rummage sale for charity. Let someone else make use of what you no longer want or need. Every appliance you reuse saves another unwanted appliance from entering this world.
October: Clean with vinegar. Instead of dangerous chemicals, use white vinegar. Never use anti-bacterial products, which kill the good bacteria with the bad.
November: Redistribute the freebies. Grocery specials can include 2-for-1 or buy-this/get-this-free deals, especially around the holidays. Even if you don’t want the freebie, accept it and donate it to a food bank.
December: Do good. Buy holiday gifts from charities, or choose a service or donation as your gift to others. One gift idea: Enrollment in a CSA, Community Sponsored Agriculture, program where recipients get a box of fresh, locally grown produce every month or week.
Find more ways to go green gradually in Kate Heyhoe’s book:
Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen—the New Green Basics Way (Hundreds of tips and over 50 energy- and time-saving recipes to shrink your “cookprint”)