New Year Resolutions to help save the planet

Posted: 19 December 2006

As the New Year approaches, it's a good time to make a few personal resolutions that can help save the planet from environmental meltdown. Fortunately Friends of the Earth has come up with a handy list which we reproduce here.

These eco-friendly resolutions aim to reduce, reuse and recycle nature's overstretched resources...you're guaranteed, says FOE, to look and feel better for it.

RESOLUTION 1 - GET FIT AND CUT CAR POLLUTION

Ditch the car and start walking or cycling. Good for you: regular exercise can reduce heart disease and provide protection from strokes, diabetes and cancer. A staggering 70 per cent of all car trips are less than five miles - the ideal distance for a quick spin on the bike. Peddling burns 300 calories an hour and helps to firm up legs, bums and tums. Walking doesn't cost a thing and gets you in touch with the great outdoors. A brisk walk for 45 minutes a day, four times a week on a calorie controlled diet could result in a fat loss of 18lbs over a year, says the UK Department of Health.

Good for the environment: You'll be helping to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions. Road transport is responsible for around a fifth of UK Co2 emissions.

See: www.loveyourbike.org

RESOLUTION 2 - EAT HEALTHY AND BUY ORGANIC

Say no to fast food and supermarkets and yes to organic and local produce. Good for you: It tastes better and you'll feel better for it. The production of organic food causes much less environmental damage than conventional agriculture. It comes without those pesky pesticides and the demand for organic food is growing at 40 per cent a year. Grub from farmers markets or grocers helps the local economy and also makes you feel part of the community. It's mad for UK customers to buy apples that have been flown all the way from New Zealand when fantastic ones are grown in Britain.

Good for the environment: Helps reduce aviation pollution by cutting down on `food miles' which contribute to climate change. The average meal travels 1,000 miles before it reaches your plate.

Website: UK shoppers can go to the Natural Collection for a wide range of organic and environmentally friendly gifts. For every purchase you make Friends of the Earth receives a donation.

RESOLUTION 3 - REDUCE STRESS AND PESTICIDES

Take up Gardening. Good for you: Get fit, save money and grow something new from seed. Growing your own fruit, vegetables and plants in the garden is proven to help reduce stress. Digging deep is good exercise and therapeutic at the same time. Get composting. It minimises landfill waste and recycles it back into the earth.

Good for the environment: The garden is the one place where you can make a small but real difference. No pesticides, no wasteful packaging and no food miles.

Website: it would only cost each person around £150 a year (US $300)to plant the trees needed to absorb their personal CO2. For more information, log on to www.carbonneutral.com

RESOLUTION 4 - SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND REDUCE AVIATION POLLUTION

Holiday in your own country.

Good for you: Britain, for one, is a green and pleasant land - get to know it better. All those cheap flights abroad are costing the planet. So why not consider taking a break nearer home. Even the most environmentally friendly people can undo all their efforts by succumbing to cheap breaks abroad and long haul flights. Just one return flight from London to Miami releases the same amount of CO2 as the average family car does in a year. Good for environment: It would help cut aviation pollution. The world's 16,000 commercial jet aircrafts produce more than 600 million tonnes of CO2 every year, nearly as much as all the countries of Africa put together. RESOLUTION 5 - SAVE MONEY AND ENERGY

Switch off the telly and insulate.

Good for you: Small changes in your lifestyle can make a real difference to the health of the planet and your pocket. Energy saving measures just within the home can cut bills for a typical family in a three-bedroom semi by £200 a year. It's easy to do. Insulate your home, fit energy efficient light bulbs, lower your thermostat by 1c, switch to renewable energy and turn off lights and appliances when you're not using them. It's claimed that living an exemplary green lifestyle from cradle to grave could save you up to £80,000 over your lifetime.

Good for the environment: The UK has set a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. Almost half of the UK's emissions actually come from things we do everyday, such as leaving the TV on standby. So good house-keeping really does help. (Energy Saving Trust)

For budding eco-enthusiasts, `Save Cash and Save the Planet', published by Friends of the Earth and Collins, is packed with ideas on how you can save money and help the planet.

RESOLUTION 6 - SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE AND RECYCLE

New Year usually means out with the old and in with the new - but don't be so hasty. Recycle and reuse.

Good for you: Getting more than one use out of something not only saves you money but is hugely satisfying. Half of electrical goods left at dumps work or require only very basic repairs, so think before chucking out. Give and buy from charity shops. Victoria Beckham did her bit for recycling when she bought a little black and white dress from Oxfam. Sales soared by 40 per cent. Try flea markets, antique jewellery and vintage clothing shops.

Good for the environment: Help stop the planet going to waste by recycling and reusing what you already have. The average person in the UK throws out their body weight in rubbish every 3 months. Most of this could be reprocessed but instead it's sent to incinerators or landfill.

Contact: Friends of the Earth for more information.