The New Year is the perfect time to start over, but let’s make this year about doing better for both ourselves and this little planet we call home. Making a sustainable New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be a huge commitment, and every small step in the right direction makes a difference.
Start the New Year off right with these 17 green resolutions that are good for you and the planet.
Green Resolutions for the New Year
1. Switch to Compostable Garbage Bags
It shouldn’t come as a shock that we’re facing a plastic pollution problem. Plastic bags can take anywhere from 500-1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. Make the switch to compostable garbage bags from stores like Home Depot and Target, or an online retailer for an eco-friendlier alternative.
2. Create a Small Garden
Whether it’s outside or in a kitchen corner, starting a small garden not only purifies the air, but is a sustainable way to source herbs, vegetables and fruit.
3. Shop Local
Buy anything and everything that you can from local vendors. The less food has to travel to reach a store, the better off the environment is.
4. Make Energy-Efficient Home Updates
From energy efficient light bulbs to new windows, updating your home will save you some green on your monthly bill, and reduce your carbon footprint.
5. Invest in Reusable Grocery Bags
Even if you recycle plastic grocery bags, there is still an enormous amount of energy spent on recycling efforts. Opt for reusable bags, and you can pick them up at the grocery store during your next trip.
6. Take the Stairs
This is good for your waistline and the environment. Instead of using the elevator, take the stairs up to your office.
7. Lend a Helping Hand
There are so many organizations with sustainable initiatives that you can support. From beach and community cleanups to urban farms, find an organization that you love and volunteer.
8. Get Creative With Upcycling
Can’t figure out what to do with that old college T-Shirt? Instead of tossing it in the garbage, upcycle it into a T-Shirt quilt. Get creative with items that are still in good shape, instead of kicking them to the curb.
9. Eliminate Food Waste
Stop tossing food scraps in the trash or in the garbage disposal. The sustainable solution is as simple as using a countertop compost bin, allowing you to keep the scraps as fertilizer for your garden.
10. Recycle What You Can
This doesn’t just mean plastic, glass, paper and cardboard. There are recycling centers for other common materials from wine corks to foam. Before you toss it in the trash, do some research to see if there are recycling facilities near you that will take them instead.
11. Consider Public Transportation
This might not be possible for your work commute, but if you’re heading into the city for a game or concert and want to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot, this is the way to go.
12. Enjoy Home Cooked Meals
Pre-packaged foods aren’t doing anything for your health, wallet or the environment. Rather than a boxed dinner, cook something using fresh, local ingredients for dinner.
13. Unsubscribe From Junk Mail
If you have coupon books sent to the house weekly that go straight from the mailbox to the garbage can, simply unsubscribe from the list online.
14. Leave It Unplugged
Electronics can still use electricity even if they are turned off, as long as they are still plugged into the wall. Unplug your computer when it’s not in use, the planet and your wallet with thank you.
15. Embrace Technology
From e-cards to apps like Litterati that help you clean up your community one piece of litter at a time, use technology to reduce the garbage you produce.
16. Use Less Paper
This doesn’t just apply to the office. Use digital tickets for events, and keep your grocery list on your phone instead of using a spare piece of paper.
17. Participate in Community Cleanups
Mark your calendar now for local community cleanups happening this year. Can’t find one in your neighborhood? Here’s a guide to help you organize your own.
Start Your Sustainable New Year
You don’t have to commit to everything on this list, but keep the planet in mind and make one green New Year’s resolution. Let us know which one you picked in the comments below.