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20 Ways to Go Green in Newton 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 some money at the same time, here are 20 ways to go green in 2013.

  1. Buy fresh, local food at the Newton Farmers' Markets. The indoor market is currently open on Tuesdays from 1:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. at the Hyde Community Center in Newton Highlands and will be open until June. Starting in July, summer markets set up at Cold Spring Park (Tuesdays) and American Legion Post 440 (Fridays).
  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 and thrift stores such as Kiki D Design & Cosign, JaLo's ReNEW and Second Time Around. You can also check out 2good2waste.com/Newton, the city's reusable materials exchange.
  5. Rip up some lawn and create new garden beds this spring, and then grow your own food this summer. Need help getting started? Contact one of Newton's many landscapers. Your kids will eat more veggies if they grow them themselves.
  6. Dispose of your hazardous waste properly. The Newton Dept. of Environmental affairs offers monthly electronic drop-offs at the Rumford Avenue Recycling Depot. In addition, you can schedule a pick-up for bulky items, appliances, electronics or metal items through the city website.
  7. Buy a share in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm to support local, sustainable farming and enjoy fresh veggies weekly. The Newton Community Farm offers CSAs throughout the year. 
  8. Ditch those dreaded plastic sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags. I like ReUsies, created by two Seattle moms.
  9. Cut down on car trips and run your errands on your bike or on foot. Rusty on two wheels? Bike Newton offers information on safe biking as well as online tutorials and information on scheduling safety workshops. Keep your eyes peeled for public workshops as well. 
  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. The Charles River Watershed Association has a variety of volunteer opportunities in the area. You can also contact the Friends of Hemlock Gorge about volunteering at a future clean-up event.
  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. Find a certified arborist in Newton by using this search tool from the Massachusetts Arborists Association.
  14. Dump your bottled water costs. You could save hundreds of dollars by buying snazzy water bottles for everyone in the family and a personal filter for your kitchen faucet. Eastern Mountain Sports has an assortment of kid-pleasing water bottles.
  15. Organize a Halloween costume swap in September. This can be a great service project for a Girl Scout troop. Reserve a room at the Newton Free Library and publicize at one of Newton's many preschools or to local parenting groups such as Newton school PTOs and the parenting/daycare services at the Freedman Center at MSPP.
  16. Replace your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy. You can find bulbs at Swartz True Value in Nonantum. 
  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 you up to 15 percent on water heating costs and reduce your water usage 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. Through the Energy Smart Newton Program and the Newton Eco-Project, residents can sign up for a free home energy audit. The program also includes free air sealing, subsidized insulation installation, generous rebates on appliances and equipment and zero percent loan programs for new equipment and window replacements. Residents can sign up for the free energy audits online.
  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, or a day of organizing support for the clutter challenged.

TELL US: 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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