As the current year comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to assess how we have been running our lives and homes. Most of us can easily take a step back, learn to plan better, and put a few smart practices into place.

Reuse and recycle by donating your stuff. The New Year provides a good opportunity to clean out, simplify and start fresh. Have household items you no longer use? Give them away on Freecycle.org. Have clothes or shoes you don’t wear anymore? Donate the items to a local shelter, drop off at Goodwill or host a clothing swap.

Go dairy free and meat free once a week. Join “Meat Free Mondays” and make a green, animal-friendly, earth-friendly resolution for the coming year. By going meat free, you reduce your carbon footprint, limit cancer risk, reduce the risk of diabetes, help curb obesity and lessen the chances of heart disease.

Grow something. Start small with a pot of basil or thyme on your patio or kitchen windowsill. Plants give off additional oxygen, help clean the air, and bring living energy to a room. Having your own pesticide-free organic herbs to use when cooking isn’t a bad thing either.

Install and use smart power strips. Get in the habit of using smart power strips to turn off TV’s, computers, kitchen appliances, and other electronics completely. You just might notice your electric bill go down.

Replace the standard light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent ones. Energy-smart bulbs use 70-75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to ten times longer.

Replace your air conditioner filter every 30 to 60 days. A dirty filter will block the airflow and cost you more to run since the unit has to work twice as hard. Have extra filters on hand at all times.