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12 simple ways to go green in 2012

If many people resolve to make their lives just a little greener in 2012 it could make a huge difference.

By Nourishing the Planet / January 3, 2012

A tourist cools off on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during a sweltering heatwave in Washington in 2010. Filing reusable bottles with tap water instead of buying bottled water could keep nearly 1 million tons of bottles out of landfills, as well as save money.

Larry Downing/Reuters/File

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As we head into 2012, many of us will be resolving to lose those few extra pounds, save more money, or spend a few more hours with our families and friends.

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But there are also some resolutions we can make to make our lives a little greener. Each of us, especially in the United States, can make a commitment to reducing our environmental impacts. 

The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Broadening access to sustainable energy is essential to solving many of the world’s challenges, including food production, security, and poverty.

Hunger, poverty, and climate change are issues that we can all help address. Here are 12 simple steps to go green in 2012:

(1) Recycle

Recycling programs exist in cities and towns across the United States, helping to save energy and protect the environment. In 2009, San Francisco became the first US city to require all homes and businesses to use recycling and composting collection programs. As a result, more than 75 percent of all material collected is being recycled, diverting 1.6 million tons from the landfills annually – double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, for each pound of aluminum recovered, Americans save the energy resources necessary to generate roughly 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity – enough to power a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years!

What you can do:

  • Put a separate container next to your trash can or printer, making it easier to recycle your bottles, cans, and paper.

(2) Turn off the lights

On the last Saturday in March – March 31 in 2012 – hundreds of people, businesses, and governments around the world turn off their lights for an hour as part of Earth Hour, a movement to address climate change.

What you can do:

  • Earth Hour happens only once a year, but you can make an impact every day by turning off lights during bright daylight or whenever you will be away for an extended period of time.

(3) Make the switch 

In 2007, Australia became the first country to “ban the bulb,” drastically reducing domestic usage of incandescent light bulbs. By late 2010, incandescent bulbs had been totally phased out, and, according to the country’s environment minister, this simple move has made a big difference, cutting an estimated 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. China also recently pledged to replace the 1 billion incandescent bulbs used in its government offices with more energy-efficient models within five years.

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