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I am not too original at Christmas -- I think we should all think about what we have and have not done for our Earth during this past year and what can we do for the future.

I suggest that you off in green the ones that you have made part of your regular daily living this past year and circle in red the ones that you are going to aim for this coming year.

1. As we use up our current cleaners and solvents, replace them with non-toxic alternatives such as vinegar, pure soap, baking soda, washing soda, borax and ammonia.

2. Return leftovers to the place where you bought them, e.g. old medicine back to the pharmacy.

3. Set aside a box where you can put household hazardous waste until the special day or you take them to the depot. Remember, anything that goes down the drain, in your house or on the street, ends up in the river. In the country, they are definitely bad for the septic system.

4. Don’t buy anything of which you only need a bit. Try to borrow some.

5. Buy soap, cosmetics and personal-care products based on natural ingredients.

6. Crush up egg shells to put on your icy steps.

7. Write notes on the backs of paper or slit envelopes open and use the inside.

8. Analyze all your disposables and look at replacing them with things you wash and reuse.

9. Carry your own mug in your purse or carrying bag.

10. Wrap gifts in newspaper inserts–they are quite colourful.

11. Use rags for clean-up, not paper towels.

12. If you have to use aluminum pie plates, reuse them or give them to a local daycare or school. Continuing on this theme, save cards, wrapping paper and anything else that can be used for crafts and take to a daycare or school.

13. Buy recycled toilet paper and tissues. They are NOT scratchy.

14. When wrapping gifts, use string instead of tape; the string is cheaper and can be reused. Colorful ribbon can be reused too.

15. Take wire coat hangers back to the dry cleaners.

16. Share magazines with a friend or donate them to the hospital or doctor’s office.

17. Share with neighbours and friends, or rent, those large and expensive things that you use only once in a while.

18. Save jars and lids for making jam or pickling and pass them on to someone who can use them.

19. Turn down your hot water heater–you won’t burn someone and save energy too.

20. Compost or if you can't because you live in an apartment, consider getting a vermiculture bin. Then you will have great soil for your houseplants.

21. Have a family discussion and decide what other things you can do to help the environment.

22. Buy locally produced food and other items -- it helps the economy, our environment and local flexibility.

I wish all my readers a healthy, happy and environmentally friendly 2012.

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