If you’re still struggling to figure out what to set as your resolution for the New Year, it may be worth considering a resolution that includes the wellbeing of the environment! In the past 50 years, humanity has more than doubled the consumption of natural resources, which will have (and already has had) adverse effects on the planet and all beings living on it, including us.
According to the World Health Organization, climate change worsens health issues such as asthma and cardiovascular disease. On top of that, 13 million annual deaths and almost 25 percent of diseases worldwide are due to environmental causes.
So, without further ado, here are eight practical and eco-friendly lifestyle resolutions to consider for the new year.
When doing groceries, it’s important to think about purchasing items that have low environmental impacts overall. This means considering the item’s production, processing, packaging, and transportation, all of which have environmental impacts.
Buying locally means that the products will not only be fresher and contain more nutrients, but it will also reduce the need for excess packaging and limit fossil fuel use as the product will not have to travel over large distances. Plus, you get to support local businesses and workers.
Limiting meat consumption will also save the planet massive amounts of land, water, air pollution, and greenhouse gases. However, it’s not just farm animals that you should be wary of. When selecting seafood, be careful to choose items that are caught in the wild and not overfished. It’s best to avoid fish that comes from overcrowded, farmed fisheries.
One of the best ways to be a sustainable consumer is to ensure that you consume everything you purchase, no matter what it is. Food waste is another gargantuan problem—in fact, almost 40 percent of food in the US goes to waste. Luckily, with adequate planning, you can make sure that you keep your food waste to a minimum.
In recent years, we have experienced more water shortages than usual, not only in dry, arid places but in suburbia and even in urban areas.
To combat excess water use, consider upgrading your yard and driveway with permeable pavements. Permeable material catches rainwater and runoff and can store it in their reservoir while slowly allowing it to travel back to the soil. This creates a hydrological balance, reduces runoff volume, which in turn increases groundwater amounts and retention.
Other practical ways to limit water use are to shut off the water between uses, do laundry as infrequently as possible, and ditch your irrigation system in favor of sparingly hand watering your lawn.
Manufacturing products, especially garments for fast fashion, generates high carbon footprints and litter that doesn’t break down easily and contributes to the human rights crisis. Instead of buying something new, ask yourself if you really need it, and if you do, then consider purchasing it second-hand.
If you still have a gas-powered vehicle, it may be time to switch to an electric vehicle to minimize air-polluting and planet-warming carbon emissions.
If you don’t have the means to switch to an electric vehicle, then consider other forms of transportation. Walking and cycling are great options for the environment and your health, but if you need to travel far distances, public transportation or carpools also minimize carbon emissions.
Green home updates
Going green isn’t just for transportation—we can also make our homes as sustainable as possible. To save energy in the home, invest in waterproofing your home with seals, caulk, or weather strips, and also in good insulation that will help you save energy on heat and air-conditioning. Make sure that you only heat or cool the space when there are people at home and aerate your showerheads and faucets.
If you enjoy gardening, think about setting up a vertical garden for your yard.
Avoid single-use plastics
Plastic pollution is one of the worst and fastest-growing pollution streams on the planet. Plastic presents a danger to any person or animal that ingests it, and can also injure or be fatal for animals that get entangled in it.
Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives such as beeswax wraps or bamboo cutlery that can easily and naturally degrade. You can also trade in plastic grocery bags for cloth bags and ditch plastic water bottles for reusable ones. This simple lifestyle change will save the planet tons of plastic pollution every year.
Like most things, manufacturing and shipping electronics create industrial waste and use high amounts of water and energy. What’s worse is that if we throw them out in our regular waste receptacles, they end up in a landfill where their batteries and other hardware can leak toxins into the land. It’s important to make sure you dispose of your e-waste safely, or even better, hand them off to the original manufacturers or a specialized e-waste recycling center to extend their lives.
Help change legislation
One of the most effective ways a single person can change the world for the better is to use their voice to influence decision-makers in government. Make sure to study your local representatives’ platforms and vote for leaders who will enact strong environmental legislation that will have positive and lasting impacts.