20 Ways to Go Green in 2013

If your New Year's resolution is to live a greener lifestyle, check out these 20 tips to help you stick to your plan.

If you want to be kinder to the planet and save some money at the same time, here are 20 ways to go green in 2013.

  1. Buy fresh, local food this summer at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market, which returns on Saturday, May 4 this year. 
  2. Have your kids make their friends birthday cards and bring gifts in decorated paper bags or a cool reusable bag. Kids love getting a handmade card—as do adults.
  3. Bring your own bags when you shop for groceries. At Big John's, they encourage bag use by charging 5 cents for every paper or plastic bag you use, and credit you 5 cents for every bag you bring.
  4. Shop at consignment stores such as Favorites for grown-ups or Sprout for the little ones. Everyone can find something at thrift stores such as Goodwill in town or at Litton Springs Salvation Army a bit farther away.
  5. Rip up some lawn and create new garden beds this spring, and then grow your own food this summer. Need help getting started?  Contact Alvarez Landscaping or A1 Suazo; you can find plant starters and landscaping materials at MIX Garden Materials. Your kids will eat more veggies if they grow them themselves.
  6. Dispose of your hazardous waste properly. Recycle Now is the best place to find local information on hazardous waste and its sensible disposal.
  7. Buy a share in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm to support local, sustainable farming and enjoy fresh veggies weekly. A couple local ones include Teirra Vegetables, Red Owl Farms and Foggy River Farm, with more listed at Ecovian.com.
  8. Ditch those dreaded plastic sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags. Try ReUsies, created by two Seattle moms.
  9. Cut down on car trips and run your errands on your bike or on foot. Rusty on two wheels? Take a workshop at Spoke Folk or Wine Country Bikes, both of which also promote local bike tours.
  10. Pack cloth napkins instead of paper towels in school lunches. Duh.
  11. Look for an environmental service project you can do with your children, such as removing trash and non-native plants and planting trees in their place.
  12. Got an older house? Install double-pane windows and you’ll see immediate savings on your heating bill.
  13. Plant a tree. A certified arborist can help you select and plant trees that will provide privacy and shade and even years of fresh fruit. Find a certified arborist in your area. My Father's Touch is a local favorite.
  14. Dump your bottled water costs. You could save hundreds of dollars by buying snazzy metal water bottles for everyone in the family and a personal filter for your kitchen faucet.
  15. Organize a Halloween costume swap in September. This can be a great service project for a Girl Scout troop. Reserve a room at the Healdsburg Regional Library and publicize to local parenting groups and preschools such as the Boys and Girls Club, Pine Tree Pre-School and the Healdsburg Montessori School.
  16. Replace your old light bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs, or convert to an L.E.D. system. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy. You can find energy-efficent bulbs at or try local RenCon Energy Products for L.E.D. / solar systems.
  17. Expand your hand-me-down circle. Organize a clothing swap for your kids’ preschool or a group of friends. Everyone brings gently used and clean kids’ clothes to your garage and parents can take as many items as they donated. The rest goes to charity. You can also swap toys and books.
  18. Replace your showerheads with low-flow models. Low-flow showerheads can save you up to 15 percent on water heating costs and reduce your water usage by as much as 20,000 gallons a year.
  19. Save up to 30 percent on your monthly heating bills by having a home energy audit done by a professional. The Healdsburg Electric Department, part of the city's public utility, will do a free home audit to help you out on water and electricity; PG&E offers the same service in town for gas usage.
  20. Give service and experience gifts this year instead of stuff. Make homemade gift certificates for services and experiences that could include tech support, dinner and a movie, yard work, pet walking or babysitting, or a day of organizing support for the clutter challenged.

TELL US:  Share your "green" thoughts and suggestions in the comments sections below.

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