Resolutions for living smarter in 2012

by Linda Hasselstrom

I can't say that if you try to do everything on this list you'll win a gold star, but you will definitely save money, feel virtuous and lose weight. It's a tough-love list of resolutions that work:
Cook: Preservative-laden fast food costs more and makes you fatter.

Bake bread: Simple, cheap and cheering.

Eat local: Buy as much food as you can directly from farmers, ranchers and gardeners in your neighborhood. Fewer than 2 percent of Americans working today have agricultural jobs, yet these private landowners protect most of our clean air, productive landscape and clean water. Help the environment (and the economy) by helping them to stick around.

Eat grass-fed meat; feedlots and chicken factories are unhealthy for humans and animals, polluting air and water.

Grow something: Even a windowsill can pot provide fresh herbs and lettuce.

Quit whining! Americans spend less than a tenth of their disposable income on food; in 1930, food cost almost a quarter of their income, and our grandparents sometimes went hungry.

Clean and sterilize using vinegar and baking soda instead of expensive cleaners that pollute; essential oils can kill bacteria.

Write grocery lists on the backs of advertising flyers and the insides of envelopes; make postcards from cereal boxes and unused photographs.

Buy at second-hand thrift stores whenever possible; otherwise, consider how you might make whatever it is, or do without it.

Walk; you'll lose weight, sleep better and cheer up; no drugs needed.

Stressed out? Fill a cloth bag 6 inches wide and 10 inches long with dried beans; heat for 3 minutes; place against aching muscles. Repeat as necessary; no known side effects.

You feel utterly helpless in the face of climate change? If you want to reduce your carbon output, save money and help the environment, you need to stop doing the following:

And you really can't afford to say that none of this is necessary. Even if the experts are wrong about the timing of global warming or the effects of high cholesterol, the most important part of responsible living on the earth is ultimately your own attitude. Doing something to conserve resources will make you happier and thus healthier.

Linda M. Hasselstrom is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News ( She writes for a living on her ranch near Hermosa, South Dakota.

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