Those of you who are regular readers of my blogs know that I don't believe you need a New Year's resolution to commit to making healthy changes in your lifestyle. Even so, now that the holidays are over and we transcend into 2011, millions of Americans are making their annual pledge to reinvent themselves by changing something about the way they live.
Most of us will resolve to do something that we hope will improve our health, appearance or relationships. A commitment to shed unwanted pounds, exercising more, stop smoking, spend less and devote more time for family and friends generally top the list of resolutions made each year. These are all laudable and important self-improvement goals. But as we all know, well-intended promises to change our behavior can start out strong and then often fizzle in enthusiasm as the weeks go by.
By all means try to stay motivated to achieve your personal goals. And for those of you who want to be more environmentally conscious, I have two tips that are relatively painless. Reduce your use of disposable single-use plastics.... specifically bottled water and plastic bags.
Every day in the U.S. more than 70 million plastic water bottles are thrown away. Most end up in landfills or incinerators, and millions litter our streets, parks and waterways. It takes roughly 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture the billions of plastic bags and approximately 17 million barrels to make plastic water bottles for the U.S. market alone. This is enough oil to run 1 million cars on U.S. highways for a year.
Tip #1- Instead of bottled water, choose a reusable stainless steel container and fill it with filtered tap water. I highly recommend a reverse osmosis filter because it is the most effective system and will remove almost 100 percent of water impurities.
Some water filters can be a little pricey but they are worth it. And if you add up what you are spending on bottled water, you can quickly recover the cost of the filter. And if you just can't break the bottled water habit, cut down on the "throw a ways" by refilling your plastic bottle with filtered tap water.
Did you know that single-use plastic bags don't biodegrade and some experts speculate that it could take hundreds or even 1,000 years for the bags to begin to break down? Government figures suggest American consumers use more than 90 billion plastic bags a year but only about 5 percent are recycled. Most plastic bags end up either clogging up landfills or littering the landscape and killing birds, animals and aquatic life.
Tip #2- Use biodegradable, recycled paper bags or reusable eco-friendly fabric shopping bags. Be sure to avoid the bags made in China offered by some retailers. Some of these bags have been produced using lead paint and you wouldn't want lead rubbing off on your food.
Obviously, it is not always possible to avoid singe-use plastics. But if enough of us make a conscious effort to reduce or eliminate our own use of these products, we can have an almost immediate and positive impact on our environment. And this is a resolution that requires no significant personal sacrifice, can save us money and help save our planet. Sources: The Pacific Institute, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Union of Concerned Scientists, Container Recycling Institute
Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology (r) at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children's health issues, and is a contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com. For more information go to www.dienviro.com