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How To Be Green(er) in 2016

The start of each new year often brings about a particular type of urge and a sense of urgency, doesn't it? We need to start doing things differently; we need to make big changes; we need to begin again with a freshness and boldness that was lost in the hectic holiday season; and we need to do all of these things right now. The truth is, we can make changes and live boldly any time of the year, and we can remind ourselves to do so as many times as we need to, but we're all here in January together, so let's just stick with that.

If you haven't already thought about it, one of the resolutions we can make this year is to try to become a little bit greener in our daily lives. That seems like a worthy goal. We've all heard the reasons why going green is a good idea: it's better for the environment; we can reduce waste going into landfills; oftentimes (especially in the long run) it provides less expensive options; there are safer and healthier alternatives for our families. And wouldn’t you know: ALL OF THAT IS TRUE. It really is. And those are very good things. Especially when we really think about the implications of our habitual choices, those reasons become all the more important, and our ensuing greener efforts more necessary and practical.

Similarly, we've all heard of some easy steps we can take to be a bit greener, e.g. reusable shopping bags, reusable water bottles (read: stainless steel or aluminum, not plastic), buying products made from recycled materials, and committing to recycling the waste in our own homes. These little measures, plus many more, are all great ideas and simple ways to start living up to our greener selves. But I would suggest there is one very important step that must be taken before (or at least alongside) any initial effort to green living: we must be intentionally green. Purposefully. Willingly. Deliberately. That change begins not just with our actions, but with our minds. Let's change our mindset, so that when we think about green alternatives, we think about why we chose them and why that is important. And let's find joy and pride in those decisions.

Let's make a resolution to want to go green, and reconsider what that means for us. Let's not consider it an inconvenience to run back to the car to retrieve our reusable grocery bags when we've left them in the trunk; let's not consider it a chore to make a trip to the recycling center on Saturday mornings; or a burden to wash the glass containers we've packed our lunch in instead of plastic baggies. Let's redefine our efforts. Call them our worthwhile obligations; our heroic charges; our progressive commitments to the health and longevity of our planet, for us, our kids, and everyone else. Whatever you call them, consider them a priority. Let’s prioritize the environment like we do our other important considerations. Is this product safe? Is this a healthy meal? Is this practice good for the earth? We wouldn’t buy a dangerous product or eat food that makes us sick, so why not also try to reduce the negative impact we have on our planet? When we think about and remind ourselves to make greener decisions, not only does it become easier to do so, but we start thinking of more creative ways to make it happen. And we can continue to feel good about our decisions and our efforts from now until next January.

Look for more "Going Green(er)" articles in the BYL Newsletter in the future. In each installment, I'll post new tips and tricks about simple ways to go just a little bit greener. You may find that you already know and practice some of them, but hopefully there will be a few you haven't thought of before. I welcome any and all tips, tricks, or advice that you have to offer and any suggestions on new topics to discuss in a later article. Email those comments to katy@benefityourlife.com with the subject heading "Going Greener". I look forward to hearing your contributions and incorporating them in upcoming pieces. Until next time, let's prioritize our commitment to going green. Let's change our minds about what's convenient and easy, and recognize what's important and worthwhile. And pretty soon, not only will our valiant endeavors make us feel good, we will wonder why we haven't been doing them all along.