Sacramento – It’s the season for New Year’s resolutions, and the California Department of Conservation has a few suggestions about small changes that can make huge impacts on the health of the environment.
1. Look for Recycling Opportunities: Just finished drinking a bottle of water? Instead of throwing it in the trash, look for the nearest recycling bin, or hold onto your beverage containers until you find a recycling center or get home to your curbside bin. With 2.8 million water bottles alone going into the trash each day in California, every container you recycle makes a difference. Call your city or county recycling program or visit www.bottlesandcans.com to learn more.
2. Ask for Recycling By Name: Does it ever seem like there aren’t enough recycling bins in California? You’re right…and you can help change that. If your gas station or convenience store doesn’t have a recycling bin, ask for one. If you ask for recycling opportunities, you’ll get them (it’s easier than you think). At the office? Start an office-wide recycling campaign, or put a bin next to your trash can for beverage containers and paper. The CRV money collected from most beverage containers can help your company reduce costs. Call 1-800-RECYCLE or visit www.bottlesandcans.com to learn more.
3. Remember the Other Important “R’s” – Reduce and Reuse: Help to lessen the amount of waste by buying items that use little or no packaging, or “buying in bulk” which reduces unnecessary and excessive packaging. Also, find ways to use items over and over again, such as refilling a water bottle.
4. Buy Products Made From Recycled Materials: Resolve to “buy green” by purchasing at least one recycled-content product on a regular basis, such as paper towels or computer paper. Look for the recycling symbol (or “made from post-consumer material”) on a wide range of products. There is a growing array of new products made from recycled beverage containers including backyard planter boxes and fleece clothing.
5. Make Your Home a Toxic-Free Environment: Keep your home healthy by reducing unnecessary toxic chemicals. Paints, solvents and other chemicals should be disposed of safely, not flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain. Did you know baking soda and vinegar substitute as great all-purpose cleaners? Other non-toxic household cleaners can be found at many stores. Cut down on pesticides and fertilizers in your garden and you’ll limit what gets washed into rivers, bays and the ocean.
6. Get Out of the Car One Day a Week: Resolve to spare the air. Carpool, use public transportation or bicycle. Using alternative transportation a day or two a week is manageable, and getting out from behind the wheel can be relaxing. Plus, riding a bike fulfills the annual resolution to exercise more.
7. Start a Compost Pile to Feed Your Garden: Convert those yard clippings and vegetable peelings and even coffee grounds into nature’s fertilizer for your garden. Home composters can be found at most home and garden centers. Many counties now offer discounted rates for home composters and many more counties take yard clipping “donations” for municipal compost piles that provide soil for local parks. Call your city or county for more information or visit www.ciwmb.ca.gov/Organics/HomeComp to learn about composting at home.
8. Enjoy the Great Outdoors: Visit a local, state or national park. Take some time to appreciate California’s world-class natural areas. Get to know some of the parks in your area and beyond. Ask about volunteer opportunities or special nature programs geared toward kids.
9. Go Local – Volunteer in Your Community: Resolve to improve your hometown environment. Sign up for the local clean-up day, tree-planting effort or community garden. Take your kids to a neighborhood creek restoration effort to show them what an ecosystem is all about. Volunteer at a local park. Adopt your own space and turn it green.
10. Conserve Energy: Cut your monthly energy bills 30 percent by replacing old equipment in your home with state-of-the-art Energy Star products. Get going on those energy-efficient home improvements you’ve been putting off all year. Turn off lights when you leave a room and keep the thermostat at 70 degrees. For more tips on conserving energy, visit www.flexyourpower.org.
In addition to promoting the state's beverage container recycling program, the California Department of Conservation administers programs to safeguard agricultural and open-space land; regulates oil, gas and geothermal wells in the state; studies and maps earthquakes, landslides and mineral resources; and ensures the reclamation of land used for mining.