Turn Over a New Leaf in 2012

epaMake this New Year’s resolution green!  Each year our plastic and paper consumption and CO2 emissions are soaring higher and higher.  What better a time to rearrange your lifestyle than with the drop of the New Year’s ball?  Here are some simple ways to live more environmentally-friendly in the New Year.

· Ditch the Plastic bags- When grocery shopping or perusing around the mall, bring a reusable bag instead.  Besides, who enjoys carrying around three different shopping bags?

·  Invest in a lunch box- Instead of tossing out a whole paper bag each day, try toting your very own lunch box.  It will pay itself off within a few months of buying paper bags and keep your lunch fresh!

· Power your home with LED lights- Replacing your incandescent bulbs with an LED or compact florescent light bulb is a great way to become more energy efficient.   Say goodbye to tedious and frequent bulb replacements and hello to a lower energy bill!

· Start Carpooling- Save gas and reduce CO2 emissions by simply riding the bus to school or setting up a carpool.  Riding with friends is more fun anyway!

· Shorten your shower- Who needs a full five minutes?  Simply reducing your shower just by two minutes can save over 10 gallons of water.

While these changes may seem small and insignificant, they actually save huge amounts of energy and waste in the long run.  One of the strongest reasons our country can be so wasteful is because people often do not take into account the “environmental cost” of their actions.  In 2012, my goal is to educate people in my school and my community on the consequences that certain every-day selections and habits have on the enviornment.  I have always believed that raising awareness is the first step in creating change.

These challenges will leave you feeling healthier, refreshed, and more in tune with earth.  Good luck!!

Erica Arnold is a senior at Hinsdale Central High School in Illinois and plans to study environmental engineering in college next fall.

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