12 Simple Steps for Going Green in 2012

As we ring in the new year, here are 12 steps that we can all take to reduce our impact on the environment.

  • local food
    Buying locally is one way to ensure food security in your community.

  • local food

As we head into 2012, many of us will be resolving to lose those few extra pounds, save more money, or spend a few more hours with our families and friends. But there are also some resolutions we can make to make our lives a little greener. Each of us, especially in the United States, can make a commitment to reducing our environmental impacts.

"The global community, and particularly people living in industrialized societies, have put unsustainable demands on our planet's limited resources," says Robert Engelman, President of the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental research organization based on Washington, D.C. "If we expect to be able to feed, shelter, and provide even basic living conditions to our growing population in years to come, we must act now to change."

The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Broadening access to sustainable energy is essential to solving many of the world's challenges, including food production, security, and poverty. "With so many hungry and poor in the world, addressing these issues is critical," says Danielle Nierenberg, director of Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet project. "Fortunately, the solutions to these problems can come from simple innovations and practices."

The Nourishing the Planet team recently traveled to 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and will be soon traveling to Latin America, to research and highlight such solutions. The project shines a spotlight on innovations in agriculture that can help alleviate hunger and poverty while also protecting the environment. These innovations are elaborated in Worldwatch's flagship annual report, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.

Hunger, poverty, and climate change are issues that we can all help address. Here are 12 simple steps to go green in 2012:

1. Recycle

Recycling programs exist in cities and towns across the United States, helping to save energy and protect the environment. In 2009, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to require all homes and businesses to use recycling and composting collection programs. As a result, more than 75 percent of all material collected is being recycled, diverting 1.6 million tons from the landfills annually----double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for each pound of aluminum recovered, Americans save the energy resources necessary to generate roughly 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity----enough to power a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years!

1/11/2012 11:17:43 AM

i have a gripe with #12 also. grain fed beef is an issue. don't feed ruminants grain is an answer. vegetarian (or egads veganism) is just as destructive as CAFO's. turning perennial grasses that are sequestering carbon into annual crops that are shipped across country is far more destructive to the environment. tillage causes topsoil loss & no- till ag requires immense amounts of chemicals. properly pastured meat provides far more nutrition than any produce could (including fat soluble vitamins that are never found in plants) & are more nutrient dense than feedlot meat. plus, if more animals were raised properly we'd need to grow and ship less grain around the world. what is going on here at MEN that they consistently miss that?

1/7/2012 7:35:22 PM

I could easily pick thru each one of these ideas and present a sound mathematical argument that none of them accounts for any significant improvement in the planet, but won't bother. I feel obligated, however, to set you straight about point #12: Raising animals for meat does not increase GHG emmisions. That methane emiitted by the animals is converted from food stuffs that extracted the carbon from the atmosphere. It's a complete cycle with ZERO net change in GHGs ( if you still are deluded enough to think that's important anyways). ...In fact, if we ate more meat, we would be cutting down on our total calorie intake (better for our health) and use less land for crops, therefore, more land left for natural habitat. THAT would improve the planet.

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