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Instead of the traditional “exercise more,” “save more” and “lose weight” resolutions, consider choosing a green pledge, and you may find that you will likely shed some weight, gain some bucks and end up walking or biking more as well. Consider any of these for 2011:

 Eat local and seasonal

Strawberries or corn on the cob in January just isn’t right.You pay twice the price for poorer quality food than when those same fruits and veggies are fresh-picked from Hoosier farms. Plus the transport of such products from Chile, Mexico or even California demands excessive petroleum and releases air-polluting emissions.

A real treasure occurs weekly at Trader’s Point Creamery, just south of the Boone Village on Moore Road www.tpforganics.com. Saturday mornings during the winter, the Creamery hosts a Green Market, 9 a.m. to noon, with local vendors and artisan food producers offering healthy, natural products. Although the selection of fresh green veggies and fruit gets slimmer in winter, the big Red Barn still bustles with folks choosing local, healthy products, including grass-fed beef and free-range chicken/eggs, and non-CAFO pork raised naturally. Greenest option for eating local: grow and can/freeze your own foods for zero carbon emissions! Here’s a great local guide for seasonal foods: www.in.gov/isda/files/Harvest_Calander.pdf.

Reduce plastic use

Start with that ubiquitous plastic water bottle. Pledge to use a reusable water bottle; glass or stainless is best. If you are not happy with your own water source, install a faucet filter or use a pitcher-filter to remove impurities and odors. You will not only save money, but also stop contributing to the pollution that plastic production creates. It also demands an excessive use of our dwindling non-renewable resource, petroleum. While you are at it, grab a reusable shopping bag and eliminate the overuse of plastic bags from grocery and drug stores.

Go meatless on Mondays

The trend to eat less meat is not just about a healthier environment. It encourages a healthier and wealthier you. Adding more veggies and legumes (consider lentils and black beans), will take a load off your wallet and your waist. Meatless Mondays is a growing trend that reduces health risks such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It also shrinks your carbon footprint while saving natural resources like water and fossil fuel that are used much more heavily to produce meat than to grow veggies. More info and super recipes are available at www.meatlessmonday.com.

Recycle EVERYTHING

At one time, it was considered almost “heroic” to go through the effort to recycle. But now the Town of Zionsville and Ray’s Trash Service has made this a simple task, not much different that tossing garbage. Review the list of acceptable items (includes paper, cardboard, glass, cans and plastics one through seven, except Styrofoam) on the town’s website. www.zionsville-in.gov/services.

Pledge to reduce your trash outlay to less than the amount you recycle. It’s an easily achievable goal with just a little consideration and effort. If kids are in the household, involved them as a teaching moment. You may be surprised how much they already understand about the need to reduce, reuse and recycle.

 Go carless

at least one day a week

Habits are hard to break, and Americans have a deeply instilled habit of grabbing the car keys anytime we want to go somewhere. We seldom consider whether we can combine trips, or if we could walk or bike to a local destination. The thought of carpooling or asking another for a ride is hardly ever a serious deliberation. Yet, cars contribute heavily to both water and air pollution. The transportation sector in the U.S. is responsible for more than a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions. Don’t think cutting out one quick trip to the store won’t make a difference; it does, and the trips add up, and the habit of becoming “car conscious” becomes permanent. Pledge to reduce car usage this year.

Ditch chemicals

Chemicals were first used in WWI to destroy enemies. Now many of the same families of chemicals are commonly used in industry, manufacturing and agriculture; we ignore their destructive nature. As gardeners and homeowners, we spray and breathe an enormous collection of carcinogens, hormone disruptors and neuro-toxins leading to disease, behavior problems, neurological damage and weakened immune systems. This is in addition to the abuse these chemicals cause our natural resources, including our water, air and wildlife. Re-read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and work to eliminate chemicals in your home. After ditching all the cleaning products and gardening chemicals (remember to Tox-a-Way them and don’t put these dangerous chemicals in our landfill), pledge to go au naturale with your lawn. At the very least, use a no-phosphorus fertilizer, and apply it only twice a year. (www.clearchoicescleanwater.org.) Your lawn will still look great and the environment and your family will be much healthier because of your actions.

Happy Green New Year.

Lynn Jenkins is a Zionsville resident and publisher of  Indiana Living Green. E-mail her at Lynn@IndianaLivingGreen.com.

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