This month Tu BiShvat falls on January 20 and marks the “New Year of the Trees.” Customs include planting trees and eating dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, raisins, carob and almonds. Since it’s a bit too chilly outside to plant trees, we’ve compiled a list of 10 easy tips to honor the holiday and help your family go green in 2011.

  1. Make a family or personal calendar/planner made from recycled paper, printed with eco-friendly ink.
  2. Slow down when driving. Every five-miles-per-hour reduction in highway speed reduces fuel consumption by 7 percent. Reducing your speed from 70 to 65 miles per hour can save 19 cents a gallon in gas.
  3. Don’t buy new books—organize a swap with family friends to “recycle” all of your favorite titles. Or visit your local library to check out new ones.
  4. Donate outgrown kids’ clothes to friends or local charitable organizations.
  5. Teach your young children about protecting the environment by reading books about saving the planet (check out our reading list below).
  6. Involve your kids in recycling. Set up colored bins for each type of recycled material—paper, cans, etc.—and have kids help you sort the recyclables that your family uses.
  7. Build a toy Shabbat kit with your kids using recycled toilet paper rolls, foil, paper, markers, etc.
  8. Wash laundry in cold water instead of warm, and save 1,281 pounds of carbon dioxide annually (and energy bills!).
  9. Choose eco-friendly baby bottles for your newborn.
  10. Avoid latex-based paint for home projects, which contains chemicals that can break down and vent into the atmosphere. Instead buy a “low-VOC” product (VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds) for painting projects in your home.