12 Sustainable New Year's Resolutions
In light of our planet’s environmental outlook you may be wanting to live more sustainably or even considering going zero-waste this year. To help, I’ve created a list of twelve achievable sustainable living New Year’s resolutions. You can resolve to do all of these environmentally friendly objectives throughout the year, try a new one per month, or select a few to commit to full-time. I recommend focusing on one new goal per month to experiment with new habits, avoid overwhelm, and mitigate the chances of giving up on your sustainable living efforts. Regardless of which goal you work towards you’ll be inspired anew on your sustainable living journey.
Remember The Reusable Bags
I’ve been guilty too, of forgetting my re-bags at home while heading to the market. This month, resolve to keep re-bags with you at all times (in your car, purse, or backpack) so that you won’t need to use any single use plastic bags. That includes reusable grocery bags and produce bags alike. Make your goal this month to do-away with any and all plastic bags!
Discover Your Local Resources
This month resolve to acquaint yourself with the local sustainability resources available to you. Know where the nearest glass recycling center is located. Know what your recycling plant can and can’t recycle. Discover where local composting areas are located and how you can contribute. Join a community gardening club. Learn where your local water conservation building is located and sign up to learn more about how you can conserve fresh water at home. Discover the local shops that mend clothing, shoes, technology, and appliances. Find a nearby thrift store. Search for the nearest bulk refill store. Connect with a local farm to learn how you can support their efforts. Knowing what resources are available to you is one of the most important ways to live sustainably. Get out there and discover!
Single use plastic dining ware is a huge culprit to our planet’s plastic waste problem. Take the time this month to build a zero waste dining kit, then take it with you wherever you go. This on-the-go reusable dining kit should include a fork, knife, spoon, straw, napkin, food container, coffee mug, and water bottle. This zero waste kit will be an incredible resource to have for those spontaneous meals out and about.
Eat One Vegan Meal a Week
You might be surprised to learn that the meat and dairy industries are two of the most harmful industries for the environment, while plant agriculture has a lesser impact. Resolve to reduce your environmental impact in a BIG way by eating one vegan meal per week. For some, this might be scary or unappealing however, the benefits of eating a plant based diet far outweigh the costs in regard to both human and environmental health. Check out my dear friend Randee’s blog, Think Outside The Coconut for loads of delicious easy vegan meal ideas!
Grow Your Own Food
Organically growing your own produce is a great way to live sustainably and support a healthy environment. When you grow your own organic produce you reduce the need to buy fruits and veggies packaged in plastic. Additionally you reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides that get applied to produce and get leached into groundwater through mass monoculture farming practices. Organic gardening also supports a biodiverse local ecosystem. Moreover, gardening reduces your carbon footprint by reducing trips to the market or the need for produce to be transported.
Try growing your own food by joining a community garden or building a plot on your land. You might also consider adapting your ornamentally landscaped yard into a garden that is both beautiful yet productive. It is possible to intermingle fruit and vegetable plants with flowers and shrubs for an artfully crafted (and edible) landscape design! If you live in an urban setting, square-foot gardening will allow you to produce a high-yielding garden in a small space. Or, consider using trellises for vine-growing produce such as strawberries, peas, beans, or squash. Gardening in containers is also an option for tight spaces. Try your hand at growing herbs, tomatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, potatoes, onions, or lettuces in pots on your porch.
Make a Plastic Free Swap
Take a look around your home and notice what you buy frequently that is made of plastic. This month, instead of purchasing plastic, make a sustainable switch. An easy place to start is in your bathroom and kitchen with personal care items. Think: toothpaste, floss, razors, makeup, plastic wrap, soap, dish scrubbers etc. For inspiration, check out my first 12 Sustainable Living Swaps. Over a period of a few months I’ve been able to overhaul many of my bathroom and kitchen supplies in order to live more low waste. Remember not to throw out perfectly good items until they are completely spent before buying new.
Learn to Fix & Mend
One great way to live sustainably is to fix and mend items in order to make them last longer. Learn how to sew a patch onto a pair of jeans, glue pieces back together, or learn how to use a simple tool kit for basic mechanical repairs. You may need to reach out to savvy friends or connect with a local business that can teach you how to make the fix. Youtube is also a great resource for learning crafty lessons on the fly. This month, go out of your way to learn a handy new skill that will pay-off in the lung run.
Use Clean Transit One Day Per Week
Decrease your CO2 emissions by riding a bike one day per week this month instead of commuting solo in your car. Or, commit to traveling around by using transit systems powered by clean, renewable energy. You might also consider ride sharing with a friend that is headed in the same direction. Carpooling can help reduce the amount of vehicles on the road at a given time and therefore marginally help to reduce CO2 emissions. Remember, progress is better than perfection and any little effort makes a difference!
Thrift & Trade Instead of Buying New
This month, instead of buying new, resolve to thrift or trade to acquire the items you are searching for. Reach out to friends and family that might be able to make a mutually beneficial swap, or hit up your local thrift store. You might be surprised at the gently used gems you find in your area!
Make Something You Would Normally Buy
Much like the concept of thrifting or trading before buying new, creating items we need is a great way to live sustainably. This habit fosters creativity and resourcefulness while simultaneously reducing the fast-convenient-consumerism habits that are so prevalent in our culture. Get creative and use the resources you have available to you to create or up-cycle something that you would normally buy new. This is also a great way to save money!
Get Outside & Connect With Nature
One of the best ways to support sustainable living efforts is to get outside and connect with nature. This action strengthens our awareness and bonds us with the planet. Being outside fosters respect for mother nature and supports understanding the interconnectedness of all things. Bring a friend with you and get into nature at least one day per week this month.
Evaluate Your Home Energy
There are a number of sustainable energy options available for the average homeowner. Some sustainable swaps might require a big project while others might only cost a few dollars or simply require a change in living habits. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about how you can make your home energy consumption more sustainable.
When gardening, select native water-wise plants in order to reduce the amount of precious fresh water used in the yard. Another option is to invest in a water meter to time and measure how much water you are using on your property. Your local garden center or landscaping company will have sustainable irrigation options for large properties as well as small home gardens. Another sustainable home practice that is becoming more popular is the practice of harvesting rainwater. Reach out to your local water conservation center to learn the local regulations regarding the collection and use of rain-water.
For sustainable home energy, invest in solar panels to convert to solar powered energy. Use a light timer or light sensor so that you can control how much electricity you use. Leave your lights off during the day when natural light is available. Remember to unplug appliances and power strips. Be conscious of your dishwashing and laundry habits. Can you line dry clothes to save energy in the Summer? Can you wash most dishes by hand where you have control over the running faucet? This month, resolve to be more aware of how much energy and water you use at home, then look for ways to make more sustainable choices.
What is YOUR Sustainable Living New Year’s Resolution?