If, like Kermit the Frog, green is the color you prefer to be, here are some tips for keepable resolutions that are guaranteed to turn you a shade or two closer to that happy hue by the end of the year. Adding simple changes throughout the year (not necessarily in the order below) makes follow-through easier.
| JANUARY—Start a home recycling program or expand the one you have. Begin with something easy like redeemable bottles and cans or paper and add a new type of material every few weeks. You don’t need bins--bags or boxes work fine. You’ll save money on trash disposal, and help to extend the life of the landfill. To learn what can be recycled and how to do it, click on "recycling" in the menu or pick up a flier at the Recycling Center or Mariposa Library.
| FEBRUARY—Switch to non-toxic household cleaners. Chemical cleaners can be harmful to your health and are also expensive. Common products like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, borax and liquid soap can be used instead. Click on "Going Green" in the menu for some quick cleaning recipes and links to other green cleaning sites.
| MARCH—Donate good used clothing (and other usable items) to a local thrift store. Doing some spring cleaning? Set aside gently used clothing and other reusable items to take to one of Mariposa’s many fine thrift stores. Not sure if it’s usable? Leave it on the top of the pile and ask when you get there. It makes more work for them if they have to pick through dirty, broken , or torn items and also costs them to have your trash hauled away, Click on "where to bring good used items" under "recycling" in the menu for a list of some of the locations in Mariposa where you can bring your unwanted treasures.
| APRIL—Find new uses for old things. This is one of the great challenges in the Age of Consumerism. Start simple-use empty jars for nails and food storage, for example—then work your way up to bigger and better things. Check out www.pinterest.com to get your creative juices flowing.
| MAY—Plant a garden. No space? You’d be amazed at what you can grow in a pot—or even an old boot. Look around the house for potential containers—broken mugs, old coffee or tea pots, buckets, even plastic bags. Save money at the landfill (less trash means less in landfill fees) and improve your soil by composting vegetable waste, yard clippings, even paper and cardboard. Learn more about composting at CalRecycle.
| JUNE—Bring your own bags when you shop. Why? Between 60 million and 100 million barrels of oil are used to make the 100 billion to one trillion plastic bags used worldwide each year. About 400 plastic bags are used per second in California and only about 2% of those are recycled. Read more here CAWrecycles. Get a free “Got Your Bags” reminder window cling (non-sticky) to hang in your car window so you’ll always have your bags in hand when you go into a store. Available at the Mariposa Library recycling display.
| JULY—Buy local. Save gas and support the economic health of the community by shopping at home, including service oriented businesses, thrift stores and the Mariposa farmers market. More info.
| AUGUST—Install rain barrels. Now is the time to set up a rainwater catchment system for the rainy season. Rain barrels don’t have to be expensive. Get ideas at pinterest.com and watch a short video on diverting and catching rainwater for your garden at
| SEPTEMBER—Safely dispose of medicinal drugs. Neither prescription nor over-the-counter drugs should be flushed down the toilet or drain, where they will enter the groundwater, or thrown haphazardly into the trash, where they could be picked up and consumed. For information about the proper disposal of out-dated or unused drugs, click on "pharmaceutical disposal" under "recycling" in the menu.
|OCTOBER—Donate a used vehicle to Habitat for Humanity. In the market for a new car or have an old one taking up space in your yard? Mariposa Habitat for Humanity will take it off your hands, running or not. Not only will you be helping a local non-profit, but the donation can also be used as a tax deduction. Go to mariposahabitat.org for more information or to start the donation process or call 209-966-7444.
| NOVEMBER—Ask store managers to offer take-back programs for electronics, drugs and other products banned from landfill disposal. Numerous products, such as batteries, fluorescent bulbs, mercury thermostats, paint, e-waste and medicinal drugs, have been categorized as hazardous and banned from disposal in the Landfill. The cost of collecting and disposing of these materials falls to individual municipalities, which results in a huge financial burden, especially to rural counties with limited budgets such as Mariposa. There is a movement to encourage manufacturers who make these products to take them back at the end of their life cycle and find a way to recycle them. This is called extended producer responsibility (EPR). For a guide on how to dispose of banned materials in Mariposa County click on "recycling" then "banned materials". To learn more about EPR in California visit the California Product Stewardship Council website.
| DECEMBER—Think outside—no box required. Too good a thought not to share. I’ll leave it to your own interpretation.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, vibrantly green 2014.