Captain Planet's
10 Top Tips for the New Year

Alex Smith, M.D. of "Alara", has instigated some excellent 'sustainability' projects in London, including the planting of a vineyard near King's Cross and the turning of a neglected piece of waste land next to his factory into a 'Permaculture' garden for the local community.

Dubbed (unofficially) London's "Captain Planet", he offers his ten top tips for a Sustainable New Year.

No need to make the same old New Year's resolutions you break every year this time around. Instead of promising to go to the gym, diet and lose weight, make some resolutions this year you can actually keep and that won't just benefit your health, but that of the planet too.

Since Alex Smith decided to go green he's lost 18 pounds, and lowered his cholesterol through exercise and changing his eating habits. So make your New Year's resolutions sustainable ones and you won't need to worry about forking out for that new gym membership.

So here are Alex’s Top Ten Sustainable tips for 2010:

1. Feed the worms
– Research found the average UK household spends £424 p.a. on food that goes in the bin.  Soggy lettuce was the most common thing people threw away unused! The best thing to do is to save yourself time, money and energy and only buy what you'll actually eat, but the next best thing, and a great way to put humus back into the soil, is to compost your kitchen waste and then use it to feed some plants.

2. On your bike
- In our modern world we all need to travel but we can make choices; leave the car at home for shorter journeys and walk or cycle - it’s good for the environment, good for your wallet and great for your health, and no need to worry about traffic wardens ever again. It's worth asking your employer to see if they will help you to do this as many organizations now have schemes in place to encourage bike purchase etc.

3. Be adventurous
- at the dinner table, cut down on cholesterol – meat, if not grass fed, is very environment-expensive in its production (many tropical forests are burnt down to grow Soya to feed livestock). Reduce the number of meals you have with meat and have one meat free day a week. Veggie meals can be much more than just a pile of vegetables on your plate – use the internet and get adventurous with your cooking.

4. Discover Britain
- Flights use an enormous amount of fuel, and Alex has cut out flights this year. Save your pennies and find out what Britain has to offer for your holidays instead – you might just be surprised. If you really don’t want to avoid a flight however head somewhere different that can really benefit from tourism.

5. Go Organic
– Being organic isn’t just about buying food, it’s about thinking and living an organic way of life as well. Look for organic products in all areas of your life such as cosmetics, cleaning products and clothes – it may be a bit more expensive but it is less costly for the planet in the long run.

6. Be less shocking
– We all know about it, so finally decide to save money and time by using low energy and long lasting light bulbs. Start there and if you need to replace appliances make sure they are energy efficient (look for ‘A’ ratings or higher). When not in use leave TVs, DVD players and computers switched off.

7. Get a Degree
- Reduce your heating by 1 degree, it will feel the same, will save you money and help outside stay cooler as well. Installing insulation and draft proofing will generally pay for itself in a year.

8. Get Grounded
. Growing your own food is a great way to save money and make meal times tastier! You can use grow pots or bags if space is limited and still get a great yield. It is also good exercise, great for the mind and you will really see the miracle of where food comes from.

9. Recycle and Reuse
– recycling doesn't just mean throwing things in the recycling bin – Get inventive! Use empty jars or plastic containers for storage, get involved in Blue Peter with the kids, find your local community recycling group, and drop your used magazines at your doctor’s surgery.

10. Buy local and fair trade
- it might cost that little bit more, but can you really put a price on helping to reduce Global poverty? Another point is that local and fair trade goods tend to be better quality.You can get anything you need if you look hard: from wooden toys to zucchini.

To read about the Alara Permaculture Garden and the new King's Cross Vineyard (Rondo grapes), visit the Diversity Website .

For information on Alara and ways you can help the planet (their website is packed for of useful tips and a blog about their gardens) visit www.alara.co.uk

For more information on the London Leaders of Sustainability, visit www.londonsdc.org/londonleaders/

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