New Year’s resolutions can include sustainability

Alison Higgins, Key West Sustainability Coordinator, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about how to sustain a healthy life.

The beginning of a New Year is a good time for resolutions about sustainability.

Higgins said, “The one that almost everybody goes to is health and weight first. That is based a lot on transportation, as well as the food you actually eat. So on the transportation side, if you are lucky enough to live close enough, where you could bike, but you usually don’t, weather like this is the perfect time to get yourself into that habit. I have been biking since just before the new year and it takes me exactly the same amount of time, as it does in my car when you figure in that, I usually end up being at the farthest end of the parking lot when I drive. When you’re on your bike, you’re on the side streets, you don’t have as much traffic, and you get to park right next to the building. Yesterday, I was running late and we had a meeting that started on the hour, and what normally takes me eight to 10 minutes took me five. You can’t speed up in the car that much to make that much difference. On a bike you sure can. They say you’re supposed to have 75 minutes of high cardiovascular activity a week. Well, if you’re putting in a 10 minute bicycle ride twice a day, it’s really easy to get there. That or just getting out and walking more. My husband and I are both trying to just set schedules. So we call it date night and at 6pm we go for a walk for just a half an hour. It’s a great time to connect. So the transportation side is a place where you can really make a difference both in sustainability of the island and of your own health.”

Food is a huge part of a person’s footprint.

Higgins said, “The lower you are choosing on the food chain, the healthier it is for you and the healthier it is for the planet. Your red meats are highest on the list, and fis is lowest on the meat side of the list, but then the more vegetables you throw in there, the more greens, the better that is for your health as well as your footprints on that.”

Reducing your energy bill is another way to help sustainability.

Higgins said, “Right now it’s nice and low, but we all remember what happened past summers as well as when you know the energy prices really hiked up. So it might be a great time to take on some weatherization projects. It basically means you’re just trying to find all the places in your house where air can get in. When the hot air gets in, your air conditioner has to work harder to condition that air. Right now it’s the best time in the world to be doing active projects because you’re not sweating, you’re not tired. It’s wonderful weather outside.”

There’s a film for windows that can be cut to match and put on the inside and it reflects the heat back out.

Higgins said, “We did that a couple of years back and it made a huge difference. On your doors and windows, you can put weather stripping, which is basically just a light foam pad with sticky back on it and it fills that gap at the bottom of your door. We have one door where you can actually see the sunshine through the hole, where it actually closed on the vertical.”

Replacing doors and windows is a bit more expensive, but can really help.

Higgins said, “Impact windows are already going to save you on your insurance bills. They’re not going to give you the insurance balance until you’ve done them all. But when you change those out, you are highly less likely to have a window break and then have all the wind and the rain and everything get into your house. So you will get an insurance break. Besides that, because of the way they are made, I believe like 99% of impact windows are also Energy Star windows. The air conditioning isn’t turning on and on and on and on trying to recondition the air. So the energy bill went down. The other cool thing right now and actually the next 10 years, is there are tax rebates, you can take on these things. So besides the insurance savings, if these are Energy Star windows and doors you’re putting in, you can take a tax rebate of up to I think was 300 bucks every year. There’s many many other things that you can do. You can actually just get your air conditioner ducts checked for internal AC a and they’ll give you 150 bucks back for that. You can put in insulation and they’ll give you 100 bucks back for that. So look at those things that are going to save you money in the summer, use those little savings that you’re having right now towards your energy bills.”

Sustainable fisheries are another way to help.

Higgins said, “Just like I was saying earlier about your food being linked to the health of the planet, we are very lucky down here to have a very healthy fishery. Your three most sustainable fish down here are yellow tail, dolphin and stone crab. Because those fisheries are very healthy here and they’re very healthy for you.”