I love stretch goals, so my husband is usually braced for my New Year’s resolutions. There was the time I vowed to buy nothing new for a year. There was my vetoed plan to save all our trash for a year in the basement, as an incentive to only bring things home that could be recycled (my husband is such a party pooper, right?). And who didn’t love the year with no heat or air conditioning? (Confession: I minded this more than my husband). My most important New Year’s resolution came when I was pregnant and resolved to continue to decrease our carbon footprint even as we raised our son. I felt that when I harmed the planet, what I was really doing was stealing from my son’s generation just to over-buy things he doesn’t even need. I borrowed a Moby carrier and infant clothes from one friend, and a nursing pillow from another friend. We got around on the bus or train. Now I have a happy and healthy 3 year old, who doesn’t have a ton of toys. It turned out that for us, less was more.
Of course, driving less, buying less, and wasting less is only half of the equation if we want to protect the planet for our kids. This year I’m pledging to do MORE of things, rather than less. I’m going to find ways to invest in more wind energy, rooftop solar, and even more solar cooking!
Here are the details of my 100% renewable 2014 resolution:
- Lighting: Our old incandescent bulbs have been gone for over a decade, but we still have a few old CFL (squiggly) light bulbs to replace with the new LED variety, so that’ll be step one.
- Food: We already don’t eat meat, which saves a surprising amount of pollution, but there is more we can do on the food preparation side. I resolve to use our solar cooker at least once a month as step two.
- Appliances: Over the years we have inspected every outlet for energy hogs, replaced our four appliances with the most efficient ones on the market, and we have a timer so that we’re only connected to the Internet when home. But we can do a better job charging our phones and gadgets during the day with our solar panels—so more solar charging will be step three.
- Transportation: We decided to live in a place where we don’t need a car regularly, but we do use car share and taxis more than we need to, out of laziness. This year, I resolve to bike or use public transportation to all distances within 15 miles, which is about the limits of my 3 year old’s patience for sitting in the bike trailer. I also resolve that when we do rent a car for the weekend, we will get an electric car, rather the gasoline burning variety.
- Solar: We already have solar panels for our house, but they are in our backyard, not on our roof, so they are not very visible. This year I resolve to have an open house for our neighbors so that they can check out our solar panels and see if they too want to get a quote and see if their panels would pay themselves off as fast as ours have.
I still remember the day on our honeymoon when my husband and I were getting certified to scuba dive, and we turned around and saw an enormous sea turtle. I was awe struck. I felt the same when I first saw Glacier National Park. I am dedicated to making sure my son grows up to have the option to see those things, and knowing that his kids will see them too. But that won’t happen if it’s just me being crazy with my New Year’s resolutions. I need you to be crazy too. My dream is a future where all our kids can aspire to see polar bears roam in the wild, sea turtles return to safe nesting grounds, and where 100% of the energy we use is clean.
Join me in switching up your New Year’s resolution a bit for 2014. Start by pledging to power more of your life with renewable energy. It will save money, provide cleaner air for our kids, and it’s absolutely necessary if we want to tackle climate change, and associated extreme weather.
And feel free to be public about your renewable resolutions! The reason I’m writing this now is because it’s far easier for me to stick with something I declared publicly than something I just decide in my head.