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10 Resolutions For A Green New Year

Ring in 2014 by reducing your environmental footprint. A greener tomorrow starts today.

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10. Reduce Food Waste.

Via pca.state.mn.us

No one buys food with the intention of throwing it away. But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 34 million tons of food was thrown away in 2010 in this country. In fact, food is the single largest component of waste going to landfills and incinerators.

Here in Minnesota, the average household in St. Paul wastes almost $100 worth of food every month. This is bad for our wallets — and for the environment.

9. Create a clean, and green, home. Reduce toxins.

Via pca.state.mn.us

We spend nearly 90 percent of our time indoors. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels.

Reducing toxics inside your house can be as simple as looking for a few key words on products when you buy cleaning products. The words caution, warning, danger, or poison indicate that the product's ingredients are harmful. Choose the least hazardous product to do the job or make your own non-toxic cleaning products. If you have hazardous products at home, be sure to dispose of them properly.

8. Conduct an energy audit and weatherize your home.

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Heating and cooling your home, especially in Minnesota, can take a lot of energy-and money. The great news is that there are many things residents can do in their home to improve the efficiency of their heating and cooling systems. Find out by conducting an energy audit.

Reduce your home's heating and cooling costs through proper insulation and air sealing techniques. Weatherization includes caulking and weather striping around doors and windows that do not close tightly, sealing air leaks, adding insulation to walls and attics and tightening ducts.

7. Green up your mailbox.

Via pca.state.mn.us

Direct mail—catalogs, flyers, credit card offers, memberships to clubs and organizations of all kinds—makes for a lot of paper and plastic waste in the typical household. According to the EPA, Americans throw away some 5.8 million tons of unsolicited mail in a typical year.

Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive with services like DMAchoice and Catalog Choice. With these sites consumers can remove their names from mailing lists for unwanted advertising, donation requests, catalogs and other offers.

The demand for recyclable paper, including shredded mail, is currently greater than the supply. For tips on recycling paper visit http://www.recyclemoreminnesota.org

6. Choose CFL or LED lights.

Via pca.state.mn.us

Lights are responsible for nearly 15% of the average home’s electric bill. And yet, lighting is one of the easiest places to start saving energy and money. There are some savings that are worth more than dollars and cents — changing the world can be as simple as changing a light!

Visit ENERGY STAR to find the right bulb for your needs.

5. Start composting in your backyard.

Via pca.state.mn.us

Composting is an easy way to reduce waste while improving your yard and garden soils. Yard trimmings and food scraps make up nearly 16% to 30% of waste produced by the average household. In Minnesota, 12% is food scraps and up to 18% is yard waste.

Why throw this stuff away when it can be put to good use in your yard and garden? By composting leaves (browns) with kitchen scraps (greens), you create a a dark, crumbly mixture that can be used to improve the soil and reduce your use of fertilizer and water.

Find a composting how-to here.

4. Recycle E-waste

Via pca.state.mn.us

Out with the old, in with the new! Many people get new electronic items during the holidays. Recycle old consumer electronics, such as TVs, computer equipment, and DVD players, because these devices contain toxic metals and chemicals. According to the EPA, Americans own nearly 3 billion electronic products.

Minnesota residents can take advantage of the growing number of recycling options for household electronics—some are free, while some charge a fee.

3. Save our water and use salt sparingly

Via pca.state.mn.us

Doctors tell us to stick to a low-salt diet. Our lakes and streams should follow the same advice. When winter comes and snow and ice build up on Minnesota roads, parking lots, and sidewalks, one of the most common reactions is to apply salt, which contains chloride, a water pollutant.

When snow and ice melts, the salt goes with it, washing into our lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater. It takes only one teaspoon of road salt to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water. Less is more when applying road salt.

2. Amp up your recycling efforts.

Via pca.state.mn.us

Recently, the MPCA commissioned a statewide study of what we are tossing into our garbage cans. The group studied garbage from six facilities throughout the state and separated it into nine primary categories.

Paper, plastics, and organics are still the top three components of our garbage, but the proportions have changed—plastic is up, food is up, but paper is down.

Rethink, and recycle more.

1. Do not idle.

Via pca.state.mn.us

Toxic chemicals and fine particles in diesel emissions can trigger asthma, lung and heart problems, and are responsible for as many as 125,000 cancer cases nationwide.

Idling uses more gas every 10 seconds than restarting your car, so if your car is parked for more than 1 minute, turn off the engine. You'll save money and everyone will enjoy cleaner air.

Some cities have made idling illegal. Minneapolis is one such example.

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