Save Green: New Habits

Green Checklist

Since I wrote the post last week on tracking New Year’s goals, I have been thinking about the difference between goals and habits. This year I’m focusing on habits. I have the usual big pile of goals as well, but I want to see how it will work making changes consciously driven by new habits.

21-Day Chain for a New Habit

There is no scientific evidence that I can find for the idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit (if you know of any, please comment), but I see the wisdom in not breaking the chain when making a change. And, I like the number.

A three-week time period seems doable. So, I’m going with 21 days to check in on my new habits.

Will you make a new habit with me over the next 21 days?

One of the resolutions or goals that a lot of people choose is to save money. I am always looking for new ways to save green in both senses—money and environment.

I would like to hear more natural parents’ ideas for saving green. How are you saving green this year?

Do you want to create a new Save Green Habit with me?

Decide what the habit will be, and do it every day for 21 days. In order to give you a day to think of a new habit you want to make part of your life, I’m making tomorrow (January 5th) Day #1.

Remember this is a habit, a new behavior that you can track daily. It isn’t a one-time action (call the power company to switch to wind power) or a goal (reduce energy usage by 20%) or a plan (grow spinach and carrots in my garden). A habit is a new behavioral groove in the record of your life.

I will check in on Save Green Habits every couple of days until Day #21 (January 25th) and let you know how my habit is going. I have a few suggestions to make about new green habits as well.

My Family’s New Habits

On New Year’s day, my family gathered to talk about highlights of the past decade and the past year. Then, we asked what we want to be able to say about highlights of the coming decade and year. This was the beginning of our goals. At that point, we looked at which of these goals looked like new habits. My husband and I looked for greener habits, while our children were more focused on activities they enjoy.

  • My husband will shut down his computer every night. His desktop computer uses about 120 watts per hour, which ends up being about 1.44 kilowatt hours (kWh) for every 12-hour period it sits not in use. We pay for a windpower option, which is a little more expensive than the coal-power option. The savings will be about $10.25 and 525 kilowatt hours per year.
  • My daughter will spend at least 30 minutes each day knitting projects from a new knitting book she got for the holidays. She decided this all on her own because she wants to knit for her friends.
  • My son will spend at least 15 minutes each day on Mandarin Chinese language lessons, Chinese culture books, or practicing Kung Fu. He chose the activities, and I worked with him to create enough variety that he can fit his mood of the day.
  • I will run stairs every day, actual first-floor to second-floor stairs. I tell my children to resist marketing, that they don’t need stuff to have fun, so I’m trying to walk that talk—or run that talk in this case. An average treadmill uses .75 kilowatt-hours for 30 minutes. Assuming I would have used it half an hour a day every day of the year (which of course I would have), the savings will be about $5.34 and 274 kilowatt hours per year.
Habits Checklist

To track our habits, we have created a calendar that includes checkboxes for each of us. I don’t think we’ll need a printed calendar in the future, but this is a new process for us, so I wanted to make it really clear and easy for us all to succeed. Once these habits are well established, we plan to check in and see what else, if anything, we would like to add to our lives. Once the novelty of the process wears off, I think we’ll be able to track on our regular calendar or with magnets on our refrigerator.

Tomorrow is Day #1 of my new Save Green Habit: run the stairs every day.

Image © Ruth Black |

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