Small steps can keep the ‘green’ in resolutions

Lisa Iannucci, For the Poughkeepsie Journal
Installing solar panels can help generate renewable energy.

When the ball dropped at midnight on New Year’s Eve, many Americans began their New Year’s resolutions. Some resolved to lose weight, while others vowed to quit smoking, travel more or pay off their bills.

Marybeth Cale’s New Year’s resolution was to help the environment and save a few trees by going “green” and turning her paper-filled home office to a paperless work area.

Installing solar panels can help generate renewable energy. Getty Images
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Buying organic vegetables or growing your own can help the environment.

“When I was cleaning out the stacks of paperwork in my office over winter break, which was a completely overwhelming task, I decided it was time to move my business into the 21st century and start going as paperless as possible,” said Cale, whose office is in Rhinebeck. “So my green resolution for 2016 is to store files primarily in the digital space instead of printing out every single assignment or set of meeting notes.”

She was only week one into her commitment when Cale was interviewed for this story and, she said, “It’s already liberating to have less paper on my desk. Less clutter makes me feel like I am more organized and on top of my game and, of course, it feels really gratifying to know that, while very, very small, I am doing something positive for the environment, is more socially responsible, and it sends a positive lesson to our children.”

Robin Weiss of Wallkill doesn’t want to call her new behaviors this year a “resolution,” but she wants to fix the environmental issues she has going on in her own home.

“I noticed that once the last of three kids moved out of our home, we still had way too many bags of trash leaving our kitchen,” she said. “So, I am trying to plan ways to reduce our footprint. I just figured there has to be a bad reason for this and I want to figure it out and do what I can to fix this problem. I think we’ve been careless and we must be more vigilant.”

According to Harris Interactive, approximately 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Peter Di Natale, president of Peter Di Natale & Associates Inc., a full-service construction firm based in Cold Spring, said that over the years, he’s had customers saying they want to start the new year by changing out old materials and doing upgrades to their homes and other property.

Reclaimed materials, such as weathered barn siding with its various patinas and textures, can be recycled for home renovations.

“This year, we’ve actually been working on some new green ideas that might appeal to a lot of people along these lines,” Di Natale said. “Something to consider is installing solar panels on rooftops. It saves money when it can be used to create power for your property and, of course, many folks look at it as better for the environment.”

To do her part to help the environment, Emma Grace Rogers Carillo of Middletown resolved to stop throwing things away. Instead, she joined a “buy nothing” Facebook group.

“I donate what I have and don’t need anymore,” she said. “And someone else is happy because they have something they wanted, but couldn’t buy for themselves.”

Pawling resident Ellie Savoy has also been working hard for the last three years to buy very little and reduce waste.

“I recycle everything I possibly can and I even give the pulp from our juices to a local guy to compost,” she said. “I don’t believe in new year resolutions anymore because they don’t last. Every day I am conscious of my carbon footprint. It’s been a gradual process over several years.”

At the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater office in Beacon, all of the staff members work hard at being more environmentally conscious. This year, Shameika Hanson, the volunteer and events coordinator, said she is resolving to live a healthier life, starting with getting organic local fruits and vegetables.

“It helps our local economy,” Hanson said. “Buying organic directly places my money in the hands of those not polluting the environment with harsh chemicals from pesticides, herbicides, etc. and by making my purchases locally, I cut down on auto emissions in the air, oil and gas out of the ground.”

Di Nitale advises homeowners to start making environmental changes this year at home by using reclaimed materials in projects.

“Reclaimed materials are getting popular,” he said. “We once worked on a home that turned logs recovered from the bottom of a lake into flooring. And we’re just putting the finishing touches on a project where we’re using petrified forest wood to cover one interior wall of a home being renovated. In the Hudson Valley, there are opportunities to get reclaimed wood-siding from old barns. The barn’s insides in particular offer great material to work with. They can have beautiful patinas and using them gives a rebirth to what otherwise would be discarded material.”

He also said homeowners do not have to look far to save the environment.

“Sometimes you don’t have to look beyond your own yard or acreage,” he said. “If there are stones and big rocks on your property then you can craft them into stone walls and patios, and cut down or even avoid the cost of going to a quarry. If you have stone laying around, or even old concrete, depending what it was made from, that might be easily collected and reused.”

Seth Leitman, of the Green Living Guy (, said a good resolution would be to save energy.

“Start with LED bulbs (not CFL) and insulation,” he said. “Most homes are 100 percent under insulated. Once added, it starts saving energy immediately. Vow to never again leave your electronic devices in standby mode.”

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal