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.
- Buy fresh, local food at local markets like the Gulfport Fresh Market every Tuesday on Beach Boulevard. Hours are 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. For more information check out the Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market on Facebook.
- 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.
- Bring your own bags when you shop for groceries.
- Shop at consignment and thrift stores such as Collectibles and Thrifts, St. Vincents Thrift Shop and even the Gulfport Beach Bazaar - for vintage and antique items.
- Rip up some lawn and create new garden beds this spring, and then grow your own food this summer. Need help getting started? The Pinellas County Extension Office offers lawn and garden assistance, resources and information. The Lawn and Gargen Help Line is (727) 582-2100 (then Press 1). Walk in hours are Mon - Fri between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Pinellas County Extension Office at 12520 Ulmerton Rd. Largo.
- Dispose of your hazardous waste properly. The City of Gulfport Sanitation Department can pick up appliances, car batteries, propane tanks and other hazardous waste materials for a free. Call Public Works at (727) 893-1089 to schedule special pick up items.
- Buy a share in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm to support local, sustainable farming and enjoy fresh veggies weekly.
- Ditch those dreaded plastic sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags. I like ReUsies, created by two Seattle moms.
- Cut down on car trips and run your errands on your bike or on foot. Need a new or gently used bike? What about parts? Check out South Pinellas Bicycles at 5016 Gulfport Blvd. S. Here is their business listing on Gulfport Patch.
- Pack cloth napkins instead of paper towels in school lunches.
- 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. You can contact the non-profit organization "Keep Pinellas Beautiful" to learn more about volunteer programs and beach clean up events. Contact the organization at this number: (727) 533-0402.
- Got an older house? Install double-pane windows and you’ll see immediate savings on your heating bill.
- 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.
- 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.
- Organize a Halloween costume swap in September. This can be a great service project for a Girl Scout troop.
- Replace your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy.
- 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.
- 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.
- Save up to 30 percent on your monthly heating bills by having a home energy audit done by a professional.
- 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: Do you think you could stick to a green New Year's resolution? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments sections below.