Bay-Friendly New Year's Resolutions from TBEP
With a new year upon us, why not resolve to take action toward a cleaner, greener environment? These resolutions can help you save money, cut your carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier Tampa Bay:
Volunteer! Do good while having fun giving your time and muscle power to a community group or organization that works to remove exotic and invasive plant species or clean up litter from shorelines.Organize your own community cleanup if you have a common area or pond marred by unsightly trash.
To get started, contact one of these groups:
— Tampa Bay Estuary Program's Give A Day For the Bay Program ( tbep.org)
— Tampa Bay Watch ( tampabaywatch.org)
— Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful ( keeptampabaybeautiful.org)
— Keep Pinellas Beautiful ( mykpb.com)
— Keep Manatee Beautiful ( manateebeautiful.com)
Finally get around to replacing all your old incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (curly) or LED bulbs. In the long run, you'll be cutting your energy use up to 80 percent AND saving money. What's not to like?
More than one million plastic bags end up in the trash every minute. Get off the plastic bag bandwagon. Swear you will try to use those reusable fabric shopping bags you have tucked into the closet, the trunk or the back seat of your vehicle. Keep one in the front seat so it's in plain view next time you go shopping. Otherwise, out of sight is usually out of mind.
Kick the bottled water habit. Drink tap water or get a filtering pitcher and you can help make a dent in the 1.5 million barrels of oil used to make plastic water bottles each year. Aluminum and plastic reusable bottles are inexpensive and can be purchased almost anywhere. Leave one in the car, one at work, and one at home. The cheapest 20-ounce bottle of water costs about $1 — imagine the money you'll save by filling a reusable bottle.
Join a community garden and reap the tasty benefits of volunteering a few hours of time. Or try your hand at growing your own vegetables and herbs. Purchase a gardening planter for your deck or patio if you don't have space in your yard for a veggie bed. Most home centers carry them or check out
earthbox.com, a local company based in Manatee County. Embrace the Third R - Reduce! Most of us have two of the essential "Rs" by now — reuse and recycle — but perhaps the most important of all is the third, REDUCE. This is where reusable lunch containers and bottles come in, instead of those convenient but wasteful lunch and snack-size portions of foods that generate lots of plastic trash. Likewise with those single-cup coffee systems -- those little plastic capsules can't be recycled. No, we aren't buzzkills trying to take all the ease out of the daily grind; we just ask that you think about the big picture when it comes to our over-packaged lives, and perhaps commit to one or two changes you can make to reduce waste.
Lower your water and fertilizer use by replacing a section of turfgrass in your yard with easy-care native or Florida-Friendly plants. A good place to begin is under trees where grass often doesn't do well, or a strip along the house or a fence. Don't know where to start? Learn about Gardening Like A Floridian and how to comply with local fertilizer laws at