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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.

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What you can do:

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  • Instead of relying exclusively on large supermarkets, consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers.

(8) Get out and ride

We all know that carpooling and using public transportation helps cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as our gas bills. Now, cities across the country are investing in new mobility options that provide exercise and offer an alternative to being cramped in subways or buses. Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. have major bike-sharing programs that allow people to rent bikes for short-term use. Similar programs exist in other cities, and more are planned for places from Miami to Madison, Wisc.

What you can do:

  • If available, use your city’s bike-share program to run short errands or commute to work. Memberships are generally inexpensive (only $75 for the year in Washington, D.C.), and by eliminating transportation costs, as well as a gym membership, you can save quite a bit of money!
  • Even if without bike-share programs, many cities and towns are incorporating bike lanes and trails, making it easier and safer to use your bike for transportation and recreation.

(9) Share a car

Car-sharing programs spread from Europe to the United States nearly 13 years ago and are increasingly popular, with US membership jumping 117 percent between 2007 and 2009. According to the University of California Transportation Center, each shared car replaces 15 personally owned vehicles, and roughly 80 percent of more than 6,000 car-sharing households surveyed across North America got rid of their cars after joining a sharing service. In 2009, car-sharing was credited with reducing US carbon emissions by more than 482,000 tons. Innovative programs such as Chicago’s I-GO are even introducing solar-powered cars to their fleets, making the impact of these programs even more eco-friendly.

What you can do:

  • Join a car-share program! As of July 2011, there were 26 such programs in the US, with more than 560,000 people sharing over 10,000 vehicles. Even if you don’t want to get rid of your own car, using a shared car when traveling in a city can greatly reduce the challenges of finding parking (car-share programs have their own designated spots), as well as your environmental impact as you run errands or commute to work.
     

(10) Plant a garden

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