WITH 2013 coming to a close, many people will be preparing their New Year's resolutions. Many will pledge to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, spend more time with family, or even work towards that promotion they've been vying to get.
These are all good goals to set for the New Year, but why don't you take some time to reflect on how you can contribute to better our environment while saving some money in the coming year.
Why not make a simple promise to be a "greener" Malaysian?
Many people don't realise that "going green" isn't as hard as they think. It's amazing how simple and everyday things can make a huge difference in caring for Mother Nature. In fact, being environmentally-friendly isn't just a good deed but it's also a good way to save money.
It is an unfortunate fact that the coming year seems to be a year of price hikes, so many Malaysians will be in need of tightening their belts in preparation of the increasing financial burden we all have to face in 2014. The increase in electricity and toll prices alone should call for a need to make some small lifestyle changes in the year to come.
Pledging to be more "green" will not only help you to save costs but will also play a small part in reducing landfill waste, cleaning the air and preserving our environment.
You can make small changes in your everyday life, such as taking shorter showers, switching off the lights and fan when leaving the room, or taking the stairs rather than the elevator to your office, to make a difference.
For those worried about the electricity hike in 2014, a great way to reduce your electricity and water bills is to install solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems. Although it may be slightly pricey, it is a great investment for those who can afford to install these green energy solutions!
Other things you can consider doing (for little or no money) is growing your own food. You can plant a small herb patch to begin with then branch out to growing your own vegetables. All you need is a patch of dirt or pots, sun, and some tender care to watch your plant grow and thrive. It's a great way to practise sustainable agriculture, and it's an extremely fulfilling and economical way to source your food.
You can also choose to get around Malaysia the green way. Choose to walk or cycle rather than drive as much as possible. This will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but it will also provide various health benefits. If you're not keen on cycling or walking to work, perhaps you can consider carpooling with your colleagues. On top of that, you can also pledge to make use of our public transport more often. Taking the train to the city will not only save you time but will also save you from paying high parking fees!
Also, don't forget to reduce, reuse and recycle. I know that the three R's have been ingrained in our brains by ads and teaching material, but how many of us actually implement it in our daily lives?
In a highly consumerist society, we often can't go a day without buying anything. But when you do buy your groceries or products, try to make a green choice by choosing products which last longer, are energy efficient, and biodegradable.
I also urge you to think twice before throwing things away. Before throwing something in the trash, try to think of creative ways you can reuse it. A quick Google search will show you how you can use things like old bottles, tin cans, cardboard to make amazing new things. It'll make a great DIY project too!
The same goes for old furniture, electronics, clothes, and other household items! Items you may initially think of as rubbish can be transformed into a whole new item with a DIY makeover, and if not, you can always donate your unwanted items to the less fortunate. Your trash may be someone else's treasure.
With all this in mind, try to spread the message and encourage your friends and family to make a pledge to make 2014 a greener year. Also, teach your children on the impact they have on the environment. Include them in your green activities and show them how to preserve energy and be more environmentally-friendly.
You may not think that your green pledge means much, but if you implement these practices every day, they will accumulate into saving you quite a substantial amount of energy or products. And with every person that takes this pledge, they are making an impact in their own way. Every little bit matters, so keep that in mind when you are making your New Year's resolution for 2014. Happy New Year, everybody!
VICTORIA BROWN The STAR Online Opinion 27/12/2013