Happy New Year: Evaluating Last Year’s Green Resolutions and Setting New Ones

Thanks to my green resolutions from last year, I was able to make some big changes one step at a time.  Although I haven’t accomplished all of them perfectly, they did help to get me jumpstart 2008 in a much greener fashion. 

As I begin 2009 things seem even more hectic than they did a year ago.  Here’s the big news: I’m pregnant!  Our baby is due on June 15th, which is wonderful news.  It also means that I’ll be juggling a nearly full time job, growing a human being, parenting a toddler, enjoying marriage, writing this blog and starting a monthly column in Metro Parent.  It’s all great news, but already I find myself a little short of breath as I consider balancing it all.  So, this year my goals are humble, but they will still be a great fun to accomplish.

Get a solar hot water heater.

Our water and electric board provides interest free loans for people wanting to get a solar hot water heater.  It will pay for itself in just four years and with our Southern exposure, we should be able to heat several thousand gallons a year.  We might wait to have it installed in the spring when the wet season isn’t so intense.  Since I live in one of the nation’s greenest cities, you can spot several hundred solar hot water heating panels perched on rooftops throughout local neighborhoods. 

Install a dishwasher.

Dishwashers are far more energy efficient than washing dishes in the sink, but our kitchen is the size of a postage stamp.  Still, with a baby on the way, it would be a thrill to have a dishwasher in our small home. It would save us water and energy, but would also save time that I could use for my other green pursuits.  

Find a dish soap solution. 

If the dishwasher dream doesn’t happen, this goal will become even more important.  Rebecca has been spending days, weeks, and months on researching the best eco-friendly solution for dish soap.  Since my husband likes to generously soap every item, it will be nice to have a cost-friendly solution as well! 

Plant a bigger vegetable garden.

Even as I write this I realize that it’s insanely optimistic.  In the third trimester of this pregnancy I’ll be pooped, working almost full time, and preparing for the infant’s arrival.  Planting a huge garden might not happen.  But maybe I could ask for a garden work party in lieu of a baby shower….Hmm….

Can home-grown produce.

I’ve been aching to can produce and eyeing my friends jars of home-canned green beans with envy, but I haven’t found time in the last few years.  I know that this next year will be especially hectic with baby, but it would thrill me to line my garage pantry with home-canned goodies.  If I could do just one batch of peaches I would be satisfied for the summer. 

What are your green resolutions this year? Keep them practical and simple and they’ll be much more likely to actually happen.  We hope that 2009 is your greenest and best year yet!



  1. Congratulations on the pregnancy, Joy!

    Now, on to dishwashers. . . . I, too, would like a dishwasher. However, I would hesitate to call it a green pursuit. I know dishwashers use less water and energy than hand washing (supposedly), but what about the environmental cost of manufacturing a huge appliance that lasts about fifteen years? Then the appliance has to be recycled (more energy expended) or sent to the dump (contributing to our landfills). Dishwashers also use harsher detergents than handwashing. Still . . . I do want a dishwasher, but I’d probably suffer some eco-guilt over it.

    And on that note, Happy New Year, everyone!

  2. Congratulations–that’s so wonderful! I can’t live without my dishwasher. The only thing that makes me feel good about it is that I got used from Craigslist. Anyway, I need to write down my green goals for 2009–one is to make my own soap and lotion.

    Anyway–happy New Year!

  3. Congratulations to you! What a great thing to look forward to this year.

    I can’t wait to read the results of the soap research that Rebecca is doing. I’d like to find something other than Seventh Generation, not that it’s bad, but just would like to know what else is out there.

    My goal is also to grow more veggies and to buy less stuff!

    Happy New Year!

  4. Cathy, if I could find an energy-efficient dishwasher on Craigslist, I wouldn’t feel guilty at all about it! I may have to search for one . . . my only qualms with getting a used one is that it would be an older model that wouldn’t use water and energy as efficiently as possible. I have seen a few that are just a year or two old, though, so that’s a good option.

    Kathleen, I did finish my soap research! (Joy wrote this post a long time ago, I think. . . .)

    Here’s where I talk about why soap is bad for the environment.
    Here’s where I review all the soaps.
    Here’s where I find a way to reduce the amount of soap I use.
    Here’s where I talk about some alternatives to liquid dish soap.

  5. Congratulations — and those are great resolutions. We’re also hoping for a dishwasher and kitchen remodel this year, for the same reasons as you. We have a baby due at basically exactly the same time so here’s to hoping we can both get dishwashers in the spring followed by terrific babies in the summer!

  6. Congrats on the baby-to-be! And I’m very jealous that you’re getting a solar hot water heater – it’s on my wish list.

    Our green resolutions are fairly modest. We want to continue to make cloth diapering work. (In a small victory, our church’s childcare center has agreed to take cloth diapers! Turned out that all they had to do was hang a hook for our wet bag near the diaper changing station and they’re compliant with those tricky regulations.) And we’re planning on making at least some of our own baby food, hopefully using produce from our farmer’s market.

    While I’ve already traded most of our toxic cleaners for Seventh Generation/Method substitutes, I’m now trying to switch to Bon Ami, Borax, baking soda and white vinegar – it’s *amazing* how well they work, and how much less they cost! I’m hoping that we’ll cut WAY down on our plastic bottle consumption by this time next year.

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