Green Resolutions

Environment Trends & Culture - December 18th, 2009

by Danielle Rippingale

New Year’s resolutions often go something like this: I will exercise regularly, eat less sugar, dedicate more time to my hobby, etc. While there is nothing wrong with these resolutions, this new year I encourage you to add a little ‘green’ to your list.

Resolve to make a change that is realistic and achievable, rather than the lofty resolutions that leave you feeling like a failure days into the new year (such as, I will grow my own vegetables). If you have children, inspire them to get involved as well.

Stuck? Here’s some inspiration:

  • I resolve to stop paying for bottled water when I can drink it for free. Tokyo water is unquestionably safe to drink, and yet millions buy bottled thinking it is healthier and safer. Wrong. Nevertheless, if you don’t like the taste of tap, just fix a filter to your kitchen facet or buy a jug filter system like those made by Brita.
  • I resolve to not drive one day a week. Tokyo has an amazing public transport system and is surprisingly bike friendly. Leave the stress of driving behind and plan your train trips using www.jorudan.co.jp/english. Bonus: you will simultaneously achieve your resolution to exercise more when you opt for foot and pedal power!
  • I resolve to make leg warmers trendy. The Japanese government has urged citizens to set their thermostats to about 20 degrees celsius. If you come from a country that is all too reliant on central heating, don’t crank up the heat and sit around in a summer t-shirt, put on a sweater! One degree celsius equals ten percent energy savings.
  • I resolve to turn off the lights. About 16 percent of home electricity consumption in Japan is for lighting. Turn off the lights when you aren’t in a room and use LED and eco-bulbs rather than traditional incandescent.
  • I resolve to lose the phantom load. No, this is not the weight acquired around your mid-section over the festive season, but rather the energy wasted by electronics on standby and power chargers when they are plugged in but not in use. An easy way to reduce the use is to plug your electronics into a power bar and flip the single switch when not in use.
  • I resolve to become acquainted with my food. Buy organic and buy local. There are several organic farmers markets throughout Tokyo where you can buy your fresh produce direct from the farmers who make your food (that means, no irradiation or chemicals to get it across the world to your plate!). Visit www.farmersmarkets.jp (Japanese) and stay tuned for my upcoming column on organic produce delivered to your door!
  • I resolve to say no to inexpensive and disposable goods. Carry your own chopsticks (my hashi), compact and reusable tote, and hand towel, and when purchasing consider the life cycle of the product from resource extraction to disposal. The price you pay does not even come close to reflecting the true environmental and social costs.
  • I resolve to reduce the amount of methane gas in the world and eat vegetarian one day a week. Not only is the meat industry a leading cause of global warming, you’ll save money and the earth by cutting your meat consumption. Furthermore, you needn’t resign yourself to a diet of tofu (despite how good it is in Japan). Use online veggie recipe sites such as www.vegetariantimes.com to find delicious and inspiring recipes.

Eco Fact

One acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of vegetables, compared with just 165 pounds of meat.

Green Glossary

Biodegradable: A material or substance that will decompose quickly and without harmful effects to the environment (such as leaking into soil and waterways) when left exposed to nature.

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Green Resolutions