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Webster defines “habit” as (1) an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary, (2) customary practice or use and (3) a particular practice, custom or usage.
Here are some good habits to acquire in 2011:

Rediscover public transportation. Evanston has more public transit options than do most nearby suburbs, with Metra and CTA trains as well as Pace and CTA buses. Most shopping districts, cultural venues and public buildings are accessible via public transit, though each neighborhood does not have its own bus stop or train station. Visit www.transitchicago.com, www.pacebus.com and www.metrarail.com for details on routes and schedules.

Northwestern University provides free campus-wide shuttle services for its students, faculty and staff. Riders must produce a WildCARD or guest wristband. For further information, visit www.northwestern.edu/userservices.

Shop and dine locally. Purple Line trains stop at the Main, Dempster, Davis, Noyes and Central shopping districts with bus connections at most of these locations. The City of Evanston provides weekday bus service to senior residents through the Levy Senior Center. Please call 847-448-8250 for more information or visit www.cityofevanston.org/parks-recreation/levy-senior-center/transportation.

There are some 300 businesses in downtown Evanston www.downtownevanston.org and dozens more in other shopping districts. Whether you are looking for a specific item or simply browsing, one of Evanston’s unique shops or national retailers is likely to have it. Keep sales tax dollars local by shopping in town.

Evanston is known as the “Dining Capital of the North Shore” with good reason: The City caters to all palates and budgets, from bagels to beignets and pizza to potstickers.

Add plastic (bags and bottles) to the endangered species list. America’s addiction to non-renewable fuels is not restricted to the gas pump. Look at the huge volume of plastic bags and bottles littered near schools, along highways and shopping areas. Reusable shopping bags can be purchased near the checkout areas of many retailers.

Bring your own bags whenever and wherever you shop. Keep a supply in the car for unplanned shopping trips. Reusable bags, such as “ChicoBag” (www.chicobag.com), come with a handy pouch for when the bag is not in use, and fit into a purse, backpack or briefcase. Some stores even reward shoppers for their effort with a bag credit or a donation to a local charity.

Similarly, there are many choices for reusable beverage containers. Wide-mouthed stainless steel, glass or BPA-free plastic bottles will accommodate ice for cold drinks, and thermal-type vessels will keep drinks warm. Break the plastic bottle habit – save both money and the environment.

Repair and reuse clothing and household items. Before buying a new item of clothing or household item, determine if something already in the home can be repaired or reused for that purpose. Can those slacks be shortened or the waist on that skirt be taken in? Can that empty container hold pens and pencils in a home office or loose buttons in a sewing kit?

Use a frayed towel to clean the dog’s muddy paws after a walk or a worn-out robe as a cozy bed for kitty. Go on a treasure hunt at a second-hand store instead of paying full price for a similar item at a department store. Not every purchase has to be something new.

Save for the future. Congratulations if you have a job in this economy. Start saving today for future needs. It could be for a first home, continuing education or a nest egg. While going through monthly bills, don’t forget to pay yourself first.

Discover how good it can feel to develop new, greener habits for 2011.

E-mail Eco Gal at ecogal247
@yahoo.com or read her blog at
http://askecogal.blogspot.com.