Issues Of The Environment: Greener Ways To Ring In The New Year

January 2, 2016 - garden totes

2016 is usually around a corner, and many of us have done New Year’s resolutions.  So, given not make a few changes that could advantage a environment?  WEMU’s David Fair speaks to Mackenzie Maxwell, Environmental Educator for a Ecology Center, who offers some ecologically sound New Year’s resolutions.


  *   The new year is a good time to consider about being some-more tolerable and make a joining to habitats that are greener.

  *   Green New Year’s resolutions are easy in Washtenaw County with resources for recycling and open transport permitted in any township, and in 2016 a cosmetic “bag ban” might be implemented county wide.

  *   MacKenzie Maxwell is a Environmental Educator for a Ecology Center, and she has grown overdo programs to make entrance to resources permitted in all collection of a county.

Green Resolutions for a New Year

1. Plan Ahead

Who hasn’t run behind to a grocery for a critical part or dictated to transport a few blocks, though run late and finished adult pushing anyway?  Recycling is a many touted track to rubbish reduction, though a tiny intuition and credentials can arguably make some-more impact.  Resolving this year to write out selling lists, to set a alarm a few mins earlier, or to reserve a sweeping in a automobile for cold mornings will cut down on consumed fuel.  To proactively conduct off destiny wastefulness, make intentional modifications to your unchanging activities like planting local flowers instead of weed in sequence to reap reduction often, upgrading to Energy Star appliances, or relocating to a yoga studio within walking distance.

2. Refuse Plastic Bags

Want to assistance sea life, relieve pollution, and make a matter about your joining to a environment—all while shopping? Decide to refrain cosmetic bags from now on.  Americans use about 100-billion selling bags annually.  Less than 1% are recycled, and a rest leach contaminants into dirt and H2O for centuries as they mangle down. Be prepared a subsequent time we are offered, “Paper or plastic?” by storing durable, reusable totes in a trunk, and lift a compress chronicle in your trek or purse.

Bag Ban May Be Coming to Washtenaw County in 2016

Nationwide, some-more and some-more cities and counties are banning a use of cosmetic selling bags.  One categorical reason is a problems they emanate for recycling efforts.  At a Michigan Recycling Coalition Conference hold in May, all 57 recycling comforts in a state concluded that cosmetic bags are a biggest plea to fit recycling.  For this reason, Washtenaw County will be examining such a anathema in a entrance weeks.

Single-stream recycling has severely increasing open appearance everywhere it has been introduced. However, a automatic classification apparatus is rarely vulnerable.  Think of it as “plastic bag bacteria,” a consistent “infection” of cosmetic bags in a equipment.  Most people commend that constantly eating sweetened treats defeats a purpose of tooth-brushing or verbal hygiene.  Similarly, constantly exposing recycle-sorting machine to cosmetic bags defeats a purpose of fit recycling hygiene.

In WWRA’s case, a “tooth-brushing” takes 1 to 2 man-hours per day to cut a bags out of a classification equipment, adding $1,900 in costs to a WWRA bill in a final 6 months. Additionally, a “cavity filling” deputy cost (both apparatus and labor) during that time has been about $12,000. For a year, that comes out to roughly $30,000 of tax-payer money, spent on an wholly preventable problem.  Despite many efforts, nobody has nonetheless grown a sorter that can effectively arrange a bags from a recycling stream. In fact, a problem is international. A poignant series of countries have criminialized a bags altogether given of environmental and rabble issues.

3. Buy Sustainable Stuff

What we put in your selling bags has a distant larger intensity to cringe a distance of your CO footprint than a form of bag we choose.  One of a best ways to renovate a wasteful, consumer-driven lifestyle is to dedicate to shopping locally constructed and organic food, biodegradable domicile products, and equipment with a slightest volume of additional packaging.  Package-free staples like flour, rice, or sugarine can be bought by a pound; farmer’s markets supply anniversary furnish year round; and plain vinegar effectively disinfects and cleans though chemical residues.  Finding greener products takes a tiny additional effort, cash, and research, though brief of giving adult your car, the cumulative impact of a year’s value of immature purchasing packs a bigger, greener punch than any other personal choice.

4. Just Say NO to Bottled Water

Contrary to a selling hype of a bottled H2O industry, filtered daub H2O is a safest and purest H2O around.  Washtenaw County’s daub water is high-quality and metropolitan H2O systems are rarely regulated by a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while bottled H2O is not. Additionally, in a U.S. one and a half million barrels of oil are consumed annually producing a bottles themselves, not including a fuel consumed transporting them.  Unless we were committed about recycling bottles, any H2O bottle we ever gulped from is still around somewhere, maybe swirling in a sea or buried in a landfill. To make refillable, immaculate bottles convenient, keep one during home, one during a office, and another in a car, and supplement a filter to a daub or keep a pitcher in any fridge.

5. Brew Shade Grown Coffee

Drinking coffee is good for a sourroundings when a beans come from coffee grown underneath a rainforest canopy.  Tropical forests are being privileged to make approach for monoculture during an shocking rate.  Shade grown coffee farms furnish coffee in a understory of an sum rainforest, providing medium for a abounding farrago of species, generally roving birds.  A Mexican investigate found tighten to 200 class of birds on shade coffee farms, while sun-coffee farms had reduction than ten.  Be certain to use a transport mug!

6. Quit Smoking

A fortitude to stop smoking not usually improves your health and a atmosphere peculiarity in a evident atmosphere, though also protects a environment.  Anyone who has collected spawn from a park or beach will demonstrate to a ubiquitousness of cigarette butts.  Made of cosmetic and jam-packed with toxins, cigarette filters ferment chemicals into a H2O for decades.  In addition, tobacco farming is water-intensive, plants are dripping in pesticides, and many tobacco is marinated regulating high feverishness from blazing timber or hoary fuel. offers a horde of collection to assistance make quitting successful, including apps, counterpart and veteran support, and information about ways to conceal cravings.

7. Go on a Diet

No list of resolutions is finish though a old oath to remove weight.  To a some-more than half of a nation who are already struggling to slim down: dieting is good for a environment!  Obviously when reduction food is eaten, reduction appetite is spent flourishing and transporting it, though some-more fuel is also used to transport heavier passengers than lighter ones.  Due to weight gain, cars burnt a billion additional gallons of gasoline annually between 1960 to 2002.  Even a “Jack Sprats” among us can diminish their immoderation by solution to sup on vegetarian cuisine during slightest once a week.

8. Skip a Drive-Thru

Don’t worry, we needn’t refrain from french fries for an whole year.  Rather than rubbish fuel watchful nearby a drive-through window while your burger is flipped, park a automobile and squeeze inside during a counter.  If a average wait for a milkshake is 159 seconds, any year Americans bake 50 million gallons going nowhere, watchful during quick food joints!

9. Carpool or Bike to Work during Least Once a Week

Unless we frequently criss-cross a nation in a private aircraft, pushing reduction this year is a series one approach to diminish your grant to meridian change.  The normal turn outing invert is 32 miles, so determining now to carpool to work on Tuesdays is a good start.  The University of Michigan’s GreenRide and a Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s (AATA) VanRide programs can bond we with intensity carpoolers.  Can’t hoop pity your Prius with sharp coworkers?  Commit to bike to work as shortly as a mercury hits 40 degrees or usually run errands once a week.

10. Unplug Everything

Rid your home of vampire power in 2016.  No need to squeeze a garlic, a vampires in this box are electronic chargers, gadgets, and appliances that continue to siphon appetite from a hollow even when a device is idle.  A miniscule volume of electricity is drawn by a singular vampire, though many homes normal about 40, immoderate 10% of a sum domicile power.  So, if you’re not regulating it, unplug it!  Make a new robe of unplugging all electric equipment as shortly as we are finished with them—microwaves, a oven, coffee pots, videogames, TVs, lamps, etc.—everything, solely inclination that contingency run invariably like a refrigerator.  For computers and associated peripherals like scanners or printers, use a appetite frame that switches off when a mechanism is in standby mode.

11. Stop a Bleeding

Americans are sanctified with an abounding upsurge of inexpensive electricity and water.  Without a thought, we run H2O while shaving, comfortable and cold a homes while we are away, and luxuriate in a shower.  Start a New Year with a oath to immature your daily slight by creation tiny changes that save appetite and water.  Invest in a smart thermostat that learns your patterns and adjusts to save appetite or set an comparison thermostat to 68°F in a winter and 78°F in a summer.  Turn off a daub whenever possible, take 5-minute showers, rinse garments in cold water, and run a dishwasher usually when full.  The assets from these modifications can be substantial.

12. Go Paperless

Today, virtually any activity that once compulsory paper can be achieved electronically, toilet paper being a important exception.  Start a New Year by switching to approach deposit, online billing and statements, and opt for a digital chronicle of magazines, catalogues, and books when possible.  Instead of duplicate photos and papers share them now around a cloud.  Every year 87,500,000 trees could sojourn station if Americans used half as many duplicate paper.

13. Start a Compost Pile

Washtenaw County creates disposing of many recyclables sincerely effortless, usually rinse and toss them in a bin.  Composting your organic rubbish is usually as easy once we are in a habit.  Not certain how to start a pile?  Washtenaw County’s Solid Waste Program offers instructions online and workshops for groups.  Composting keeps methane and leachate out of landfills, and come open your abundant supply of organic manure might enthuse a garden or two!

14. Volunteer for Conservation or Sign Up for Planned Monthly Giving

We all wish a universe will be improved in 2013, though volunteers make it happen.  Count toads for Natural Areas, purify ovens for Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore program, lift garlic mustard with a Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy, record your “wild” observations for Nature Abounds, or grow tomatoes for a needy during Edible Avalon.  Can’t gangling a minute?  Enroll in designed monthly giving for a honourable charge group, and give all year though a second thought.

15. Travel Greener

When roving this year, try out some greener alternatives to flying.  Take a sight for day trips, and for vacations, take a highway outing with your family packaged in a backseat.  The ideal fortitude for visit flyers: select usually approach flights this year.  If we book in advance, a uninterrupted choice is roughly always permitted for domestic flights, and given half of a CO emissions are generated during takeoff and alighting it’s value a few additional bucks or a somewhat behind departure. 

MacKenzie Maxwell

MacKenzie Maxwell has served as an Environmental Educator during a Ecology Center for some-more than a year.  She has presented over 150 tours during a Materials Recovery Facility, focusing on recycling, composting, and solid-waste government issues.  Using her training as a Certified Interpretive Guide, she has grown and presented countless hands-on, interactive programs on a wide-variety of environmental topics from wetlands to toxics to audiences from preschoolers to seniors. 

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— David Fair is a WEMU News Director and horde of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can hit David at 734.487.3363, on chatter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at

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