With 2012 in the rearview mirror, it's time to ponder the possibilities for 2013.
The new year is an ideal time to take a look around the house and set goals. Here are a few New Year's resolutions to consider for you and your home:
Recycle, reduce, reuse
About 90 percent of Tucsonans recycle regularly, meaning they haul the blue barrel to the curb at least once a month. But there is always more that homeowners can do to reduce the amount of trash they throw away. On average, each of us throws away 4.43 pounds of trash every day.
"We can do better," said Rebecca Quintero, recycling education coordinator for Tucson Clean & Beautiful.
Most homeowners know they can recycle newsprint and soda cans. But how about all of that crumpled up holiday gift wrap? And while Aunt Sally's Christmas card was memorable, it can go straight into the recycling bin, as long as it's free from glitter and other adornments.
Most plastic containers are now recyclable, but how about those pesky plastic grocery bags? They can be recycled at all major grocery stores, along with thin plastic wrap - the kind you find on rolls of paper towels.
Tucson Clean & Beautiful provides an online directory with information on where to recycle electronics, appliances, Styrofoam and other items that cannot be pitched in the recycling bin. Find the directory at tucsoncleanandbeautiful.org
Even better than recycling is reusing and reducing, Quintero said. And consider the packaging of what you buy. Buying eggs in a cardboard container and not Styrofoam is one example of eliminating trash.
New this year: an iPhone and Android app that offers tips on recycling and will even send you a reminder about when to put out your recycling and trash barrels. Download the free app at www.my-waste.mobi/AZ-Tucson/
Do you really want to increase the amount you recycle and reuse? Put your kids in charge, said Fran LaSala, environmental manager for the city of Tucson. "They do a very good job."
Shed some light
Tucson's queen of green, Gina Murphy-Darling, says her top resolution is one she hopes you've already scratched off your list.
"Change your light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. It's so easy to do and it saves energy and money, and why wouldn't you do it?"
Also, when looking for furnishings, try local shops that are tops in reused and recycled items, including Goodwill of Southern Arizona and the HabiStore, Murphy-Darling suggested.
Resolve to repair
Rosie Romero, an Arizona contractor who hosts a local radio program called "Rosie on the House," has two resolutions when it comes to home maintenance and repair:
"Resolve to repair," Romero shared on his website. "It's so easy to let a drip keep dripping or a crack crawl across a floor or wall until it's a bigger problem than it ever had to be. Fix what's broken as soon as it comes to your attention. No time to work on the house? Hire help. Spending a few dollars on simple repairs will save you a bundle on prematurely replacing household devices that died from neglect."
Finish what you didn't finish last year - or maybe even the year before, he added. "This is a perpetual resolution for me. Restart an unfinished project, and work on it a little at a time until it's completed. Choose the project that nags at you the worst, and resolve not to start anything else until that one is done."
Go after the garage
Consider tackling the garage in the new year. HGTV recommends that instead of buying the latest organizational product, review the following tips:
• Plan: Consider renting an outside storage container to temporarily house your goods.
• Sort: Put all like items into categories.
• Shelving: Install enough shelving to store your items but not cover every wall.
• Hooks and ladders: Get larger tools, such as shovels or ladders, off the floor by using hooks to hang them on the wall or from the ceiling
• Labels: Label the container, not the shelf where items are stored. That way if the container moves, the items are still put in the correct container.
• Garage floor: A garage floor doesn't have to be pretty. However, to reduce dirt tracked into the home, you might consider adding floor tiles.
From Consumer Reports
• Change your furnace filter. A well-maintained furnace runs more efficiently. During the heating season, filters should be checked monthly and cleaned or replaced as needed. Better disposable filters cost $10 to $30 but will last up to three months and keep your heating and cooling equipment operating efficiently while improving indoor air quality by removing dust and pollen.
• Perform a radon test. Radon is a leading cause of lung cancer, and long-term test kits give you a more accurate idea of average radon levels.
Thrifty resolutions from Style at Home:
• Install a programmable thermostat to cut home heating and cooling costs by about $180 in 2013.
• Dodge drafts by weatherstripping doors and windows.
• Paint at least one room in the house. It's an easy and inexpensive way to update décor.
• Test the carbon monoxide detector, smoke detectors and fire extinguisher, or install them.
Contact local freelance writer Gabrielle Fimbres at firstname.lastname@example.org