Thanksgiving is behind us, and 2017 is nearly over. While we’re digesting our holiday meals, it’s time to start thinking about our Christmas plans and your New Year’s Resolutions. New Years is a great time to make some eco-friendly resolutions. If you’re not sure where to start, or you’re not sure what classifies as an eco-friendly resolution, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few ideas to help you get started with planning your resolutions for the upcoming year.
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Bring Your Own Bags
Unless you live in California (which has banned them) nearly every store puts your purchases in single-use plastic bags. These bags are the second most common form of litter in the world, second only to cigarette butts. They get caught in the wind, they end up in oceans and lakes and rivers where they kill wildlife, and they use up millions of barrels of oil each year to produce.
One of the easiest eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions to make is to give up plastic bags in favor of reusable bags. If you keep forgetting them, consider investing in a set of compact pocket- or purse-sized bags.
Use Less Water
Do you know how much water you use every single day? Between trips to the bathroom, showers, cooking and the water you drink, it can be hard to keep track. The USGS estimates that a single person uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. How can you reduce your water use?
- Keep track of it — use apps like Dropcountr to keep track of your water usage. Not only will it give you a better idea of how much water you use, but it will also let you know the best places to reduce your overall water use.
- Update your fixtures — old showerheads can use a ton of water. Update your bathroom with a low-flow showerhead and toilet. They work the same except for the fact that they use less water.
- Skip the bottled water — Buying bottled water is wasteful in more ways than one. Instead, invest in a good reusable water bottle and water filtration if your local tap water tastes gross.
Eat Less Meat (Or Go Organic)
Meat can be part of a healthy diet, but it is also rough on the environment. Raising cows and pigs generates lots of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, uses millions of gallons of water every year and cost millions of dollars. Reducing your overall meat consumption can help to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your overall health.
If you just can’t live with the idea of not eating meat a few times a week, try switching to organic, free-range meat sources. Most of these meets come from small local farms, which helps to bolster your local economy as well as your local ecosystems.
If you want to be more eco-friendly without making any dramatic changes to your lifestyle, just reduce your meat consumption.
Drive Less, Walk More
Personal vehicles make getting to and from work, school, and the store much more convenient, but these cars and trucks also account for more than 30% of emissions in the United States. You can help to reduce your overall carbon footprint by making an eco-friendly New Year’s resolution to drive less and walk, bike or use public transportation more.
The dramatic impact that cars have was never more evident than in Beijing in 2015. For the 70th anniversary of Victory Day, Beijing officials wanted clear skies for their parade, so they banned cars for two weeks before the event. Do you know what happened?
The skies turned perfectly blue. Just two weeks of no cars was enough to clear the smog away. Once cars were allowed to drive again, the haze came back in less than 24 hours.
Recycle and Compost
It’s 2017 — recycling isn’t as hard as it used to be. Many cities provide recycling bins and don’t even require you to sort your recyclables. Just put everything you can recycle in one container, and workers, with the help of machinery, will sort it at the plant. If you don’t already recycle, consider making that part of your eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions.
If you’ve got a garden or are planning on starting one, consider recycling your organic waste as well (kitchen waste! Not that organic waste!) in the form of a compost pile. Keep your coffee grounds, your eggshells and your vegetable shavings in a compost bin. This organic matter will decompose and provide nutrients that help your plants and flowers grow.
It doesn’t take much to make your new year a little more environmentally friendly. Use these resolution suggestions or come up with your own, and let us know what you’re planning on doing in 2018 to make your home and your family a little more eco-friendly.