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Twenty 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 money at the same time, here are 20 ways to go green in 2013.

  1. Buy fresh, local food this summer at one of Arlington's seven farmers markets
  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 Current Boutique and thrift stores such as Goodwill.
  5. Rip up a spot on your lawn to create new garden beds this spring, and then grow your own food this summer. Need help getting started? Check out Arlington County's urban agriculture page. Your kids will eat more veggies if they grow them themselves.
  6. Dispose of your hazardous waste properly. See Arlington's waste management procedures.
  7. Buy a share in a community-supported agriculture, or CSA, farm to support local, sustainable farming and enjoy fresh veggies weekly. View a list of local CSAs.
  8. Ditch those dreaded plastic sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags — ReUsies, for instance.
  9. Cut down on car trips and run errands on bike or on foot. Rusty on two wheels? Take a workshop at Papillon Cycles.
  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. Volunteer with Arlington's weed warrior program to remove invasive plants.
  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. Here are a few tree care tips from Arlington County. 
  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.
  15. Organize a Halloween costume swap in September. This can be a great service project for a Girl Scout troop. Reserve a room at an Arlington library and publicize the event to local parenting groups and preschools.
  16. Replace your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy.
  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 up to 15 percent on water heating costs and reduce water use by as much as 20,000 gallons a year.
  19. Save up to 30 percent on your monthly heating bills by having a home energy audit done by a professional. Dominion Virginia Power offers a home energy audit.
  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.

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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