Resolving to go green(er)

The only New Year’s resolution that I know I have kept came after a particularly devastating New Year’s morning back in January 1970, when I resolved to never ever drink another sloe gin fizz – a resolution I have kept till this day. The problem with most New Year’s resolutions is that they’re improbable at best, impossible at worst.


You know the kind – I hereby resolve to lose 10 pounds by June and keep it off; I hereby resolve to run a 5K in under 19 minutes; I hereby resolve to eat chocolate only twice a week except for special occasions; I hereby – you fill in the rest.

But, you know what? We all could resolve to be just a little bit “greener” with just some simple steps that don’t require Herculean efforts.

One place we are going to start in our home is by replacing blown incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. CFLs have come a long way and have gotten cheaper. They are measured by temperature “K” instead of wattage “W”. A CFL of around 3,000-K is roughly equivalent to a 100-W incandescent bulb. You can find CFLs for about $2 a piece now. They last for about 6,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and you recoup your money after only 500 hours.

And we all like hot showers, but how hot is hot? You can turn the temp down on your hot water heater, from the normal 145 degrees Fahrenheit to around 120 degrees, never feel the difference and according to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 163 pounds over the course of a year.

Some other simple steps suggested at and their resultant CO2 reductions for a year are:

• Increase your AC by three degrees (470 pounds)

• Turn off lights when leaving a room (376 pounds)

• Wash clothes in cold water (500 pounds)

• Turn off home-office equipment when not in use (137 pounds)

Some other green choices that don’t require martyrdom could include driving habits. You paid for that cruise control, might as well use it — saves gas. And, I must admit my wife is better at this one than I, think about those auto trips. You gotta take a package to the Post Office — check and see if garbage needs to go, or if there is anything on the grocery list that is needed, you save mileage and gas by combining those trips.

And some green resolutions have welcome psychological and social benefits as well. Why not resolve to visit your local tailgate market at least twice a month during season. You will not only get fresher food that doesn’t have to be trucked cross country, you’ll also get to spend some time mingling with people who spend their time with their hands in the earth.

If these few simple suggestions have piqued your curiosity there is a wonderful local resource available – the Western North Carolina Green Building Council at This Web site has information for those who just want to sit on the edge and stick their toe in the green water to see how it feels as well as resources for those whose skin color might embarrass the Incredible Hulk.

Remember you don’t have to believe in global warming to want to save a few bucks on your utility bill or to want clean air for your children to breathe or to want them to be able to see as far from Clingman’s Dome as your grandfather could.

Have a green ’07!

(Don Hendershot can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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