As the year 2012 kicks off and New Year's resolutions begin to fill the air, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages Floridians to consider resolutions that have a positive impact not only on themselves, but also on the state's environment. Boasting a month-by-month list of simple "green" resolutions, DEP highlights the ease of adopting eco-friendly practices at home, work and school and the powerful benefits that "greening" the New Year can bring. "Going green while making your resolutions has double the benefits; you can't get more proactive than bettering yourself while you also better the environment," said DEP Director of Sustainable Initiatives Brad Stombock. "These 12 resolutions spell out simple, descriptive directions to help produce a cleaner, greener new year for all to enjoy."
The following is a month-by-month list of simple "green" resolutions for 2012:
January: Make Healthy Resolutions – Don't let the overconsumption of delicious holiday treats steer you away from resolving to be healthier in the New Year. Whether your resolution is to take a morning walk or to have a weekend adventure with the family, spend that time outdoors at one of Florida's award-winning state parks. Find local events and activities held at Florida's 160 state parks at http://www.floridastateparks.org
February: Watch Water Usage – With spring approaching, February is an ideal time to make changes at home that conserve water. By replacing a typical 3.5-gallon toilet with a 1.6 gallon model, a family of four will save more than 11,000 gallons of water per year. Taking shorter showers and replacing showerheads with an ultra-low-flow version will help reduce water usage, and repairing dripping faucets by replacing washers will help reduce water waste. Residents should not take a dripping faucet lightly--one drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year. For more water conservation tips visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us./drought/tips.htm
March: Save the Seagrasses! - March is Seagrass Awareness Month, and with more people heading outdoors on the boat to enjoy the spring weather, it is important to know how to help protect one of Florida's most important plants. Approximately 2.7 million acres of seagrass meadows grow throughout Florida's coastal waters, and they are most abundant in the Florida Keys and from Tarpon Springs to Apalachee Bay. Like lawn grasses, seagrasses are flowering plants that provide many of the same benefits as a healthy lawn, absorbing nutrients from runoff, stabilizing the soil to reduce erosion and attracting and supporting wildlife. A boat's hull, anchor or propeller can uproot seagrasses, ripping several inches into the soft sediment and creating a path several meters long. Boaters should be familiar with their boat and the boat's draft. As a general rule, there should be at least a foot between the boat's propeller and the top of the seagrasses. For more ways on how to help save seagrass go to http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/habitats/seagrass/awareness/
April: Embrace the Earth – April 22nd marks the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, and this year Floridians should take a moment to look at how to reduce waste at home by recycling. One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television or computer for three hours or a 100-watt light bulb for 20 hours. Recycling a one-gallon plastic milk jug will save enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for 11 hours. Recycling a one-foot high stack of newspapers saves enough electricity to heat a home for 17 hours. To learn more visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/recyclinggoal75.
May: Clean Green – Clean Air Awareness month in May is the perfect time to switch to green cleaners that are better for the air and the environment. Consumers can create home-mixed cleaners that are just as effective as traditional products, but safer for people and the environment. For those who don't have time to make their own cleaners, there are now hundreds of environmentally-friendly products widely available through stores and online. Important safety and environmental features of these products are non-toxic, biodegradable, made from renewable resources and petroleum-free. DEP offers a number of Green Cleaning tips and recipes at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/pollutionprevention/green_cleaning.htm
June: Helpful Hurricane Hints - June marks the beginning of hurricane season, which makes it the ideal time for a family to become informed and prepared. The first step to take is to develop a plan to share with friends and family. Next, develop a disaster supply kit , which will benefit you at home or during an evacuation. To make sure you're prepared for home safety and evacuation locations in the event of a hurricane, visit http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/disaster_prevention.shtml.
July: Conserve Cash and Energy – During the summer, when your air conditioner is sure to be running, help reduce your electric by making simple switches. The easiest way to save energy is to switch from traditional incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which reduce energy consumption, generate less air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If every household in Florida changed just one light to an ENERGY STAR® product, savings would total more than $37 million in energy costs annually. In addition, Florida could save up to 351 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, which is enough energy to light all the households in Tallahassee for nearly three years and prevent almost 540 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year. For more energy tips visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/green/tips/tips.htm#home.
August: Take a Staycation – Before the slow-paced flow of summer is over, make sure to take a relaxing reprieve at a Florida State Park. From mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park to manatees at Blue Springs State Park, and the lush gardens of Maclay State Park to the beaches of Caladesi Island State Park, the perfect affordable and carbon footprint-reducing staycation can be found at any of Florida's state parks. Florida's state parks have something for everyone, and the regular entrance fee for most state parks is only $4 per carload of two-to-eight people, $3 for one person in a car and $ per pedestrian or bicyclist. To find a state park in your backyard, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/parks.
September: Participate in Pollution Prevention – Pollution Prevention Week began to promote sustainability in businesses, schools and homes. There are many small acts that Floridians can do around their home, office or school to help prevent pollution in the community. Trade your disposable plastic water bottle for a reusable stainless steel bottle. Take reusable shopping bags not only to the grocery store, but anywhere you may do some shopping. Install a digital thermostat and set it to 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/green/.
October: Hightail it on a hike! – It's time to get out those hiking boots because October is Florida Greenways and Trails Month! It's easy to explore the outdoors thanks to a new website launched by Florida's official tourism marketing corporation to serve residents and visitors. When travelers log on to trails.VISITFLORIDA.com they can access trail descriptions and maps with information about lodging, restaurants, outfitters and other travel related services and sites. This new website advances Florida trail tourism by providing invaluable trail trip planning information to travelers. This website currently features more than 100 trails, but this is just the beginning. OGT and VISIT FLORIDA plan to expand the website over time to include a wide range of trails throughout the state. For more information on submitting a trail, please see the website fact sheet (PDF 141 kb).
November: Green your Gobble Goodies – Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped with tradition, but why not start a new tradition by having a green celebration? Reducing impact on the environment is something for which everyone can be thankful. Here are a few tips on giving thanks to the environment: use homemade decorations; carry reusable bags when you go grocery shopping; at dinner, use cloth napkins that can be washed and used again; and shop online on Black Friday in the comfort of your home. You'll save on emissions as well as hassle.
December: Deck the Halls with Green– Instead of buying plastic and glass holiday decorations, try making ornaments that can be reused or recycled. Create ornaments made from old greeting cards or cookie dough, garlands made from strung popcorn or cranberries, and potpourri made from kitchen spices such as cinnamon and cloves. The DEP staff wishes the people of Florida a safe, happy and green New Year. For more "green" tips, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/green/tips/.
Information provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.