Green goals

Fourteen ways to be more eco-friendly in 2010

From biking it to energy efficiency to gardening, 2010 could be your year to green up.

From biking it to energy efficiency to gardening, 2010 could be your year to green up.

OTHER GREEN GOINGS-ON: A GreenUp panel discussion, “How does Reno/Nevada Measure Up on Sustainability,” will be held Thurs., Jan. 7 from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Panelists include RN&R’s Kat Kerlin, as well as Carlo Luri, Scott Terrell, Andy Goodrich, Lee Gibson and Bob Tregilus, and is moderated by RN&R columnist Jen Huntley-Smith. 5484 Reno Corporate Drive. For more information, visit
Also, now through April, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful is taking student submissions for an anti-litter public service announcement contest. Winners will be chosen in poster, radio and video categories. For more information, visit

No one expects you to save the planet all by yourself. The mere idea of it sounds overwhelming to the point of paralysis. But if everyone took a few small steps toward improving the environment, the collective effort would be significant. You’ll likely find that making some of the changes listed here also will have a positive effect on your health, pocketbook and general well-being. Try one. Try them all. It’s a new year.

1) Change your lightbulbs to the curly-cue CFL kind. C’mon. You’ve been meaning to do this.

2) Eat meat less often, and when you do, buy organic and/or certified humane cuts.

3) Buy local, organic foods—from farmers’ markets, a community supported agriculture (CSA) membership, the Great Basin Community Food Co-op, or when they occasionally turn up at the grocery store.

4) Start a compost pile. Do it yourself with some boards and wire, or buy one pre-made to turn waste into garden gold.

5) Grow something. Whether you have acres of land or just a window box, growing your own food reconnects you with nature’s cycles, feeds you and is one less item that requires fossil fuels to be transported here.

6) Get an energy audit, and carry out what’s recommended from it. The Obama administration’s proposed Cash for Caulkers could help you get a rebate or tax credit for this.

7) Ride your bike. If not every day, try to ride at least once or twice a week, especially if you live five miles or less from your workplace.

8) If you have the means, look into getting solar or wind energy installed in your home. Research how the rebate system through NV Energy’s Renewable Generations program works. ( For instance, you won’t be eligible if you buy your system before applying for a rebate. Then ask around for reputable installers.

9) Can your food. It’s easy, satisfying and resourceful.

10) Learn what is really recyclable in Reno and adjust your buying habits accordingly. Much of what is tossed into the recycling bin gets thrown away in the sorting process because it’s not recyclable here. For example, our area recycles only plastics in the shape of bottles. See the Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful recycling guide at .

11) Make or buy green cleaners. What’s the use of cleaning something if it’s just polluting your health and the environment? A nontoxic mixture of vinegar and water will clean most things. Find other recipes online.

12) Pack a zero-waste lunch with reusable glass or plastic containers. Don’t heat plastic in the microwave or wash it in the dishwasher, as heat causes chemicals to leach from plastics.

13) That said, reduce your use of plastics, which are petroleum-based and made with potentially harmful chemicals. Use glass and cloth alternatives when possible.

14) Write your representatives. People can complain all they want among themselves, but sometimes, doing it in a formal way to an elected leader is the only way to really effect change.