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Ten tips for living more sustainably in 2010

(ARA) - The beginning of a new year - and a new decade - is the time many people pledge to live differently. For many, that change means living a more sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability, once only a buzz word, is now fast becoming the way to live consciously.

From reducing your water usage to buying organic, here are 10 simple ways to make 2010 the year of sustainable living:

1. Use water more efficiently: Water is a limited resource and limiting it within your household is a cornerstone of sustainability. Rain barrels, largely unheard of even a decade ago, are becoming a popular way to collect and reuse rainwater for purposes like gardening. Meanwhile, conserving water in the home by taking shorter showers or even fixing a leaky faucet also can make a difference at a time when many communities are experiencing water shortages or are expressing concerns about water overuse.

2. Compost: Turning over leaves by way of a new compost garden is one way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. A compost heap is a simple, effective way to collect yard waste, like leaves and grass clippings, and kitchen scraps such as raw vegetable peelings and coffee grounds, and return them to the ground as organic matter.

3. Seek earth-friendly packaging: To better fill that compost heap, alter shopping habits to look for products with compostable packaging. Snyder's of Hanover, for instance, recently introduced a new Pretzel Variety Sack of 100-Calorie Pretzels and Pretzel Sandwiches in the market's first 100 percent compostable outer package made from 100 percent renewable cornstarch-based plastic. The new Variety Sack includes a special logo indicating that the bag can be composted and is made with sustainable materials. In addition to that example, more manufacturers are switching to cardboard packaging materials, which are made from renewable materials and can be recycled or composted.

4. Buy local, embrace organic: Many farmers, ranchers and, increasingly, food manufacturers, are offering foods and beverages made using sustainable practices. It could be a farmers market tomato, a local dairy's milk, an organic snack food, like new Organic Honey Whole Wheat Sticks and Organic Whole Wheat and Oat Sticks from Snyder's of Hanover, or any number of natural or organic items. The bottom line is that natural, organic and locally produced foods provide both sustenance and sustainability. To learn more about Snyder's of Hanover's sustainability initiatives visit www.snydersofhanover.com/Sustainability/.

5. Go to seed: Take the locally grown movement a step further - like in your own backyard or patio. An afternoon spent planting seeds or small plants can yield plenty of rewards a few weeks or months later, in the form of fresh, inexpensive and convenient vegetables and fruits. You don't need a large tract of land, in fact, to start a small garden.

6. Ride out the trend: Sustain your own energy level by opting to ride a bike or walk to a destination that isn't all that far away. Add a basket to a bike or take along a backpack to bring something back home.

7. Re-recycle: Recycling is nothing new and most people have been recycling in some form for years. But recycling can be taken to another level, going beyond obvious and traditionally recycled items like soda cans or newspaper to the smallest of waste materials, from plastic straws to the paper straw wrapper. Why not recycle apparel as well, by donating clothes and buying gently used clothes?

8. Plug in: Learn how to operate appliances more efficiently. For example, use cold water in the washing machine: clothes will still be cleaned, without the use of heated water. Turn off appliances when not in use, whether it's the television, video game player or radio. Better yet, completely unplug. Many electronics and battery chargers continue to draw a small amount of power even when they are switched off. Instead, use a power strip to cut power completely when not in use.

9. Lighten up: Use energy efficient lighting and bulbs when possible and turn off lights when not in a room. That will cut energy use - and the family budget.

10. Get involved: As the sustainability movement gains traction among the public, there are more opportunities to join in. Local communities, schools and organizations often have green committees, and there is a plethora of national and grassroots organizations geared around earth-friendly living that appreciate new volunteers or members.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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