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Make a green New Year resolution

Conservation groups are reporting that 2009 is set to be a pivotal year in New Zealand’s sustainable revolution.  Green living has now gone mainstream, and it’s everyday people that are leading it. 

2008 was a sobering year for environmental news.  In October, WWF’s Living Planet Report found that our use of natural resources per person is now so big we have one of the largest ecological footprints in the world.  Adding insult to injury, the report also found New Zealand’s carbon emissions per person are now bigger than Australia’s. 

But look to our communities, and you’ll find there are signs that things are starting to change for the better.  In the last ten years Enviroschools has grown from a community project to a national movement.  The organisation reports nearly a quarter – 23% – of our schools are now enviroschools, growing from 419 schools in 2006 to 635 today.  The green revolution is here, and the surprise is that it’s not a revolution at all – it’s everyday Kiwis, doing the stuff that counts. With that in mind conservation organisation WWF-New Zealand is putting the call out for all Kiwis to go green and make 2009 the year we protect nature in our backyard.      

 10 green resolutions you can make and keep:

1) Feed your garden not the landfill.  Set up a composting system or worm farm at home.  According to the Ministry for the Environment, nearly half the contents in rubbish bags that make their way to the landfill could be composted.  So along with shrinking our landfills, you’ll be making your rubbish bags a lot lighter to carry just by composting.  Find out how at: www.sustainability.govt.nz/goal/organic-waste

 2) Just say no.. to plastic bags at the supermarket check-out.

 Do you really need more plastic bags cluttering your home?

As the national group Kiwi PlasticBag Concern says, “Bag the Habit”. Take your own recyclable bags with you when you shop.   Visit http://plasticshoppingbagfree.org.nz

3)  Recycle. Find out what recycling services and facilities are available in your area and then make sure you recycle as much as you can.  When you’re in a public place where recycling isn’t available, take recyclable drink bottles and containers home to your own recycling bin.  

4)  Insulate your hot water cylinder. Water heating is the single biggest energy consumer in the average home.  Cut your power bill and reduce the energy your household uses by investing in a wrap for your hot water cylinder.  Find out more here: www.eeca.govt.nz

5)  Go car free one day each week.  Get out of your car and find an alternative way to work one day a week.  1.2 million of us drive to work each and every day.  Think what would happen if we all left our cars at home just one day a week and walked, rode our bike, or took public transportation instead.  We would have cleaner air to breathe, less traffic, and a smaller carbon footprint to boot.

6)  Lose the road rage and save vital energy.  If you have to drive your car, lay off the aggressive behaviour – research suggests that as much as 25 per cent extra fuel is used with heavy acceleration and braking.

7) Get involved in a local conservation project. Nature in your backyard is amazing, so get down to ground level and meet other people looking after nature in your neighbourhood.  Join your local tree planting, stream restoration or beachcare group.

Find out more at www.conservationvolunteers.org.nz.  Or if you want to set up your own local conservation project to restore nature, check www.wwf.org.nz to apply for funding through their Habitat Protection Fund.  

8)  When purchasing new whiteware appliances make sure you read the Energy Rating Label so that you get the most energy efficient model.

9)  Celebrate WWF’s Earth Hour. On Saturday, 28 March 2009 at 8.30 pm people all over the world will be turning out their lights for one hour as a symbolic gesture to show their support for action that tackles climate change. It’s set to be the world’s biggest environmental event, and already 30 councils across New Zealand – including Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch – have confirmed they will be official partner cities for WWF’s Earth Hour in 2009.  Find out more and sign up at www.earthhour.org

10) Don’t make Earth Hour a one night stand – commit to switching off your appliances at the wall and turning out any unnecessary lights.  Switching appliances off at the wall is more energy efficient and can save you money.

And speaking of plugs. if you don’t already, support a conservation organisation.  You’ll be helping protect our unique natural environment and also strengthening the voice of the conservation movement.

WWF-New Zealand is the local branch of WWF, the world’s largest independent conservation organisation.  As part of WWF’s global mission to safeguard the natural world, WWF-New Zealand protects nature in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Antarctica, for the health and well-being of people.  It runs community programmes that protect native species and habitats, education and climate change programmes that inspire people to live sustainably, campaigns to protect our marine environment and wildlife, now and for the future.  Become a WWF supporter at www.wwf.org.nz.

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