New Year’s Resolution: 12 Months of Sustainable Living

NEWS // January 1, 2020

New Year’s Resolution: 12 Months of Sustainable Living

Maebeth Lopez, Advance Planning Land Use/Environmental Planner – Sustainability, County of San Diego Planning & Development Services  

Make 2020 a remarkable year by challenging yourself to try simple sustainable lifestyle changes each month. Sustainable living is not only good for the environment, but also results in good health and savings.

Consider these month-by-month tips as you look forward to a new year:

  • January: Lose paper and plastic weight this year

Go paperless with your bills and opt out of junk mail lists. You can drop off plastic bags and film packaging at retail stores and recycling centers. Find a drop off location near you.

  • February: Snuggle up in a warm, cozy home

Lower your heating and cooling bill by having proper insulation, a time-tested step to help save energy year-round. Check out San Diego Gas & Electric’s No-Cost Home Energy Upgrades through their Energy Savings Assistance Program.

  • March: Spring clean naturally

Use green cleaning products (i.e., floor cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, laundry soap, and dish soap) to minimize toxin exposure, save money and be healthy. Find Safer Choice-Certified products.

  • April: Let rain showers water your flowers.

Capturing 1 inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof is equivalent to 600 gallons of water! Find out where you can purchase your rain barrel and if you qualify for a rebate.

  • May: Get outside.

San Diego County parks offer more than 350 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horse riding, and finding a great picnic spot. Find a park or choose an adventure on Get Outside San Diego’s website.

  • June: Prepare for wildfires.

Ensure that you have a minimum of 100 feet of defensible space and have no touching or overhanging tree branches on your roof. Remove any dead or dying trees or plants or leaves that could spread fire. The Fire Safe Council of San Diego offer no-cost chipping and defensible space services to help homeowners reduce wildfire risk.

  • July: Buy energy-efficient appliances.

Save up to $80 a year on energy costs by choosing ENERGY STAR appliances. Run your dishwasher and do your laundry during off-peak hours. SDG&E offers up to $350 in rebates on efficient appliances.

  • August: Save water in your garden.

You can conserve water and while also protecting the quality of our local streams, lakes and ocean. Using a few inches of mulch prevents weed growth and other pests but can also save 40 gallons of water per day, by preventing soil evaporation. See more ways to reduce outdoor water use on Department of Public Works Watershed website.

  • September: Head back to school or work with alternative transportation.

Opt to bike, walk or ride the bus as your primary mode of daily transportation. Learn more about bike routes, shared mobility, carpooling from iCommuteSD through SANDAG.

  • October: Reduce plastic use.

34 million tons of plastic waste per year is generated in the U.S. alone and only a fraction of it is recycled. You can cut down your plastic diet by:

-Bringing reusable bags when shopping

-Stop buying bottled water and using a refillable water bottle 

- Saying “No” to plastic straws.

Waste Free SD offers more tips and resources on how to reduce plastic use and adopt a zero-waste lifestyle.

  • November: Plan your Thanksgiving feast wisely.

40% of food in the US goes uneaten while 40 million Americans do not have consistent access to adequate and nutritious food. has a “Guest-imater” to help calculate how much food to prepare based on how many people you’re serving and how much they typically eat.

  • December: Give more while consuming less.

Give gifts that support a healthy lifestyle, like cooking classes, or a membershio to a fitness group. For children, give responsibly sourced gifts that inspire creativity and imaginative play. Create memories, not waste, with these zero-waste gift ideas that can be applied anytime.