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20 Ways to Go Green in 2013

If your New Year's resolution is to live a greener lifestyle, check out these 20 tips to help you stick to your plan.

If you want to be kinder to the planet and save some money at the same time, here are 20 ways to "go green" in 2013.

  1. Buy fresh, local food this summer at the Athens Farmers Market and the Broad Street Market, or another farmers' market.
  2. Have your kids make their friends birthday cards and bring gifts in decorated paper bags or a cool reusable bag. Kids love getting a handmade card—as do adults.
  3. Bring your own bags when you shop for groceries. 
  4. Shop at consignment stores such as Suska, and thrift stores such as the Project Safe Thrift Shop, Emmanuel's Thrift Shop, the Potter's House and the Salvation Army Thrift House.
  5. Rip up some lawn and create new garden beds this spring, and then grow your own food this summer. Need help getting started? The State Botanical Garden or the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Science can help. Your kids will eat more veggies if they grow them themselves.
  6. Dispose of your hazardous waste properly. The Clarke County Department of Solid Waste can answer your questions.
  7. Buy a share in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm to support local, sustainable farming and enjoy fresh veggies weekly.
  8. Ditch those dreaded plastic sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags. I like ReUsies, created by two Seattle moms.
  9. Cut down on car trips and run your errands on your bike or on foot.
  10. Pack cloth napkins instead of paper towels in school lunches.
  11. Look for an environmental service project you can do with your children, such as removing trash and non-native plants and planting trees in their place. Community Connection of Northeast Georgia organizes river cleanups and other community projects.
  12. Got an older house? Install double-pane windows and you’ll see immediate savings on your heating bill.
  13. Plant a tree. A certified arborist can help you select and plant trees that will provide privacy and shade and even years of fresh fruit. Athens Clarke County has an arborist on staff.
  14. Dump your bottled water costs. You could save hundreds of dollars by buying snazzy metal water bottles for everyone in the family and a personal filter for your kitchen faucet. Earthfare and Blue Moon Outfitters have an assortment of kid-pleasing water bottles, as does Treehouse Kid and Craft.
  15. Organize a Halloween costume swap in September. This can be a great service project for a Girl Scout troop. Reserve a room at the Athens Clarke County Library and publicize to local parenting groups and preschools such as Emmanuel Episcopal Day School, Arrow, and the preschools at First Presbyterian and First Methodist downtown.
  16. Replace your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy. You can find bulbs at House Electric and Lowe's.
  17. Expand your hand-me-down circle. Organize a clothing swap for your kids’ preschool or a group of friends. Everyone brings gently used and clean kids’ clothes to your garage and parents can take as many items as they donated. The rest goes to charity. You can also swap toys and books.
  18. Replace your showerheads with low-flow models. Low-flow showerheads can save you up to 15 percent on water heating costs and reduce your water usage by as much as 20,000 gallons a year. The Clarke County Office of Water Conservation will even do a water audit on your house.
  19. Save up to 30 percent on your monthly heating bills by having a home energy audit done by a professional. Georgia Power will send someone out to do this. The UGA Cooperative Extension Service can also help.
  20. Give service and experience gifts this year instead of stuff. Make homemade gift certificates for services and experiences that could include tech support, dinner and a movie, yard work, pet walking or babysitting, or a day of organizing support for the clutter challenged.

TELL US: Do you think you could stick to a green New Year's resolution? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments sections below.

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