New Years Resolutions

A Healthier You In 2012

By Lina Younes

At the beginning of the year, I decided that 2012 was going to be the year for me to get healthier. I thought that if I used that as my guiding light for the months ahead, this resolution would likely survive beyond the month of January.

Granted that in order to get healthier, I needed to make some changes to my daily habits. Lifestyle changes and making better choices are definitely required to be successful in reaching my goal. There is no doubt that losing weight seems to be in everyone’s top five New Year resolutions. However when the pounds don’t come off as fast as we like, we are likely to be disillusioned and return to our unhealthy practices. So, what are some of the lifestyle changes that I’ve made to achieve my healthier goal? Well, I’ve started by making healthier eating choices. How about eating more fruits and vegetables? How about looking at our  old cookbooks for creative recipes that not only include healthier foods, but add some variety to the menu? How about exercising more? I’m not talking necessarily about going on the treadmill that has been collecting dust in the basement. I mean we can take longer walks even when we walk our dog. That’s a nice way of getting some fresh air and getting some exercise without really trying. Also, don’t forget the sun block even if it’s wintertime.

What other choices can we make to have a healthier lifestyle?

  • Well, reducing the amount of clutter around the home is a great start to get in the right state of mind.
  • Increasing our recycling rate is another good habit at home and at work.
  • Testing your home for radon will also help you to have a healthier home.
  • Reading the label first before using household chemical products and pesticides

These are just a few of  the healthy habits that should lead to a healthier 2012. Why don’t you commit to taking action for a healthier you and a healthier environment? Visit EPA’s Pick 5 for some suggestions.

As always, we would like to hear from you. What have you done to make 2012 a healthier year for you and your family?

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as EPA’s Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Mobile Apps and Our New Year’s Resolutions

By Carmen Torrent

In January, people reflect on their lives and make a list of things they want to get, change or strike out. The tradition of making resolutions comes from ancient times. The Roman Empire established January 1 as the beginning of the year and placed Janus, a mystic god, as the guardian of the door of the New Year, and he became the symbol of the resolution. Janus has two faces representing beginnings and endings, one looking to the past and the other to the future.

Topping my list of resolutions this year is to be healthier, and part of being healthier is to maintain a healthy home. That’s why I decided to test my home for radon. Now that I know radon is the number two cause of lung cancer behind smoking, testing for radon is a high priority for me. While it’s true that we all start the New Year determined to carry out our resolutions, I know that as time goes by some are forgotten. Like my grandmother used to say, “It’s easier said than done.” And I didn’t want to forget this important resolution, so I came up with an idea that would help me achieve my resolutions this year, and I get to have fun using my new smartphone.

I recorded my resolutions on my phone and then I used a mobile application to remind me of my new year’s resolutions: “How do I test for radon?” And the app sent me to find out how to test my home and what to do if I have high radon. Try it; it’s fun! Never thought that I would put this technology to good use to protect the environment.

January marks the beginnings in many ways, and it’s also designated by EPA as National Radon Action Month. Radon is a radioactive gas; it is invisible and odorless. Radon gas enter the lungs when you inhale, the radioactive particles damage your lung tissue and can cause lung cancer. You can have a healthier home simply by testing your home and taking the necessary actions to lower radon levels. The only way to know if you have radon in your home is to test, and what a better time to test than in the New Year? For more information on health risks, visit

Today let’s look to the future. Do not wait; test your home for radon and make the necessary repairs to your home, it could save your life.

About the author: Carmen Torrent a public affairs specialist in EPA’s Office of Indoor Air.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Resolving To Find The Beast Within

By Amy Miller

There are people who make New Year’s Resolutions and those who think we are silly.

January 1 gives the former a date to wipe the slate clean. On Feb. 1, we might decide to consume less or moisturize more. On March 1, we might swear to eat more healthfully or exercise more diligently. But on Jan. 1, we reinvent ourselves.

The other day I found the kind of inspiration one needs before crafting resolutions. It came from Malaysia in an award-winning documentary about purposefully choosing one’s path. It also happened to be about protecting our planet.

“Man & Nature,” an 8-minute video, was produced on the tropical island of Lankawi and it features Irshad Mobarak, who was a banker before he became a naturalist.

“After five years of banking I realized this is not what I want to do,” said Mobarak, whose sister is my friend in Maine. Mobarak concedes some people may want to be bankers and “that’s fine.” But Mobarak found “I had this connection to nature …I really wanted to get back to.”

Mobarak asks each of us to park ourselves in a corner and watch the birds. He thinks we’ll find they are not so different: they also go through challenges and relationships. If we keep watching we’ll learn how animals protect each other. The squid, for instance, gives an alarm that an animal of prey is coming. And we can learn cooperation from the little bird who attacks the eagle.

“We are caught up as human beings in a fast moving world and we have lost our connection to the environment; this is something that has left us empty,” Mobarak said.

My job at the EPA is to write, to promote a government regulatory agency. But it is also to be part of an organization that aims to give humans and trees and animals a healthier more vibrant connection.

As with many people, my dog is my most intimate connection with nature. When she ate one of our live chickens recently I was reminded that she is still a beast. When she refuses to obey me, I am reminded that the Husky in her is determined genetically to be fiercely independent.

As my New Year’s Resolution, instead of putting on more controls – eat less, exercise more, organize better – I will work on removing some controls. Perhaps I will resolve to honor the beast within and the human connection to nature.

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

New Year’s Resolution

By Wendy Dew

Do you recycle? I used to. I live in a very rural area where we have no true recycling centers. My husband and I used to pile the recycling up in the garage and then once a month drive one hour to a recycling collection spot. The bins were almost always full when we got there. We would have a truck full of recycling with nowhere to go! So we gave up and stopped recycling about a year ago. Every time I throw something in the trash I know can be recycled, I feel horrible.

So, my New Year’s Resolution this year is to figure out what new opportunities there might be for me to start recycling again – likely on a smaller scale!

Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans, and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is just the first in a series of steps that generates a host of financial, environmental, and social returns. Some of these benefits accrue locally as well as globally.

Benefits of Recycling

  • Recycling protects and expands U.S. manufacturing jobs and increases U.S. competitiveness.
  • Recycling reduces the need for landfilling and incineration.
  • Recycling prevents pollution caused by the manufacturing of products from virgin materials.
  • Recycling saves energy.
  • Recycling decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
  • Recycling helps sustain the environment for future generations.

For many communities recycling is as easy as putting out the trash. For others, like my community, it is a challenge. I believe recycling will become easier for all communities in the not too distant future. But until then, I will continue to find ways to recycle what I can. I encourage folks of all ages to do the same!

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 14 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

2010 Green Resolutions in Review

By Lina Younes

As the year comes to the end, many of us are starting to think about our New Year resolutions for 2011. However, I would like to do something different. I would like to see if I actually implemented some of the green goals that I set for myself in 2010.

I’ve been trying to incorporate green practices in my lifestyle for a long time. Recycling, saving energy, saving water, reducing the use of pesticides and chemicals, are some of these green habits. These have practically become second nature. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, one of the most difficult green practices for me has been in the area of waste reduction. That’s why earlier in the year, I targeted disposable plastic bags in my daughter’s lunchbox. I have purchased reusable food containers to pack her lunch AND I have been using them daily. In fact, I went for almost 10 months without having any disposable food bags at home at all. I succumbed to buying some right before Thanksgiving and I’m still feeling guilty about it, but at least I still am using the reusable containers for her lunch. So, I’m proud that to say that specific resolution is one of the longest I’ve every kept ever!

So, as we are looking to the New Year, let’s consider going greener. There are simple things you can do every week for the environment. We have helpful tips.  They are easy and you can take action right now.

What am I going to do for 2011? Well, I am going to continue working on waste reduction, my biggest challenge. I’m also going to tackle saving water as well. Shorter showers will be a good first step. Encouraging my children to embrace green practices will be my goal. We’re all in this together now and for generations to come.

May you have a healthy New Year. We would love to hear about your green resolutions for 2011.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.