Sustainable new year's resolutions will help you to lower your environmental impact in 2022. Here are 22 ideas to help you start an eco-friendly lifestyle for the new year.
1. Reduce waste in your kitchen, bathroom, or living room
Fortunately, you don't have to do this all in one day. Start with something easy like your bedroom.
Find things you can DIY and reduce your plastics. Choose to use more reusable utensils, straws, and other items.
There are a number of other ways you can reduce waste. Among the ideas you can consider include:
- Not wrapping food in plastic
- Using a reusable bottle
- Limiting your use of single-use items
Check out this article on 31 ways to reduce waste and help the environment. All of the tips can help you get close to a zero waste lifestyle. If you decide to start in your kitchen, some ideas you might consider trying include:
- Creating a compost pile
- Using reusable containers and Ziploc bags
- Buying in bulk
2. Make a list of plastic disposables to replace
Go around your house and write down all the plastic disposables you can start replacing with reusable items. Once you've finished, start replacing them one by one with reusable alternatives. Some items you can work on replacing with a more sustainable option include:
- Paper towels
- Water bottles
- Plastic grocery bags
- Plastic produce bags
- Kitchen sponges
- Facial rounds
- Plastic toothpaste tubes
3. Drive less and fly less
According to the New York Times, one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to drive less. One of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions is burning fossil fuels for transportation. You can practice taking alternative forms of transportation such as:
- Using the public bus or train
- Getting an uber, lyft, or taxi
You could also consider working from home as well. Of course for some people, given the distance to work and other factors, driving less simply isn't an option. If you have to drive, follow some of these tips to reduce the emissions from your car.
- Service your car regularly
- Cut down on air-conditioning
- Have less weight in your car
- Check your tires often
- Go easy on your gas and brakes
Beyond driving less, it'd be good to consider also avoiding air travel as much as possible. Air travel accounts for 3 to 4 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Avoid middle aisles in grocery stores
The items in the middle aisles of a grocery stores are often packaged in plastic. Shop at the aisles on the edge instead, which can sometimes feature local fruits and vegetables grown in the community.
It's better to buy that than by food items packaged in plastic. Additionally, most of the foods in the middle aisle are usually not good for you anyway. This interesting article on ignoring all the middle aisles might make you think twice about it in the future.
5. Use reusable bags
Before you go to the grocery store, make sure you've brought some reusable bags with you. It takes 1000 years for one plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. More plastic bags in landfills results in more pollution in the environment.
6. Eat less meat
The same New York Times article also noted meat was one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emission. If you haven't already started implementing a meatless day during the week, then this is a great time to start.
Eating less meat will reduce your carbon footprint drastically. It'll also lower your grocery bill; since beans, lentils, and tofu are usually cheaper than meat.
There are many resources on the internet to find tasty vegan and vegetarian meals. You could even commit to the Veganuary challenge and have a whole month of no eating animal products. If you need something to get started with, check out these veganuary recipes.
If you don't feel becoming a vegan can work for you, eating a vegetarian or pescatarian diet can also help the planet as well. Seafood has a lower environmental impact in comparison to meat.
7. Use less air conditioning and heating
According to Green Logic, air conditioning and heating is the biggest user of electricity in the home. The more electricity used, the more fossil fuels burned by power plants, and the more greenhouse gas emitted in our environment.
Opt for an energy efficient air conditioner when possible. Other tips you can follow to reduce air conditioner power consumption include:
- Turning it up one degree
- Keeping ducts clean
- Scheduling regular maintenance
- Using a smart thermostat
- Changing air filters
8. Dry your laundry outside
Dryers can also use up a lot of electricity in our homes. Drying your clothes outside will not only help give you energy savings, it'll also help reduce pollution in our environment. Learn about how to line dry clothes outside to help you get started.
9. Buy second hand
There is no shortage of second-hand stores or people selling used items online. Check out this list of online thrift stores to find clothes you might like. Your purchase of used clothing can help discourage fast fashion brands from mass producing clothes and creating textile waste.
Challenge yourself to not buy any new clothes for a month or maybe even a year. Consider also looking for personal care or home decor second-hand items.
10. Avoid palm oil
This resolution may be a bit tough since palm oil is found in almost everything you buy. Try your best to purchase items that use sustainably sourced palm oil when possible.
It'll take some research to find what is available in your area. Palm oil contributes to climate change, deforestation, human rights violations, and it is not that great for your well-being
11. Shop locally
Keeping your shopping local will help cut down on carbon emissions from trucks having to transport the products. After the last year we have had, small business owners need local shoppers more than ever. Supporting local businesses will benefit the environment as well as the local economy.
12. Save energy
Be more conscious of your energy usage and try cutting down on energy consumption when you can. Starting small and staying consistent will add up over time. Some good ideas to start saving energy are:
- Turn off lights when leaving a room.
- Switch light bulbs to LED or CFL light bulbs.
- Only do full loads of laundry.
- Cut down on shower time and frequency.
- Invest in energy-saving appliances.
13. Start a community garden (or your own)
Creating a garden has so many benefits for the environment. They can reduce food transportation costs, reduce water runoff, and overall improves the ecology.
Gardening is great for your mental and physical well-being. Even if you live in an apartment or only have a small yard, you can still garden.
Container gardening and vertical gardening will yield lots of beautiful fruits and vegetables. Something as small as a windowsill garden will also save you some money and give you fresh produce and herbs.
Many communities have community gardening projects you could look into helping with. You might be able to get some fresh produce in return. If your neighborhood doesn't have a community garden, maybe you can try starting one.
14. Start composting
If you are planning on a garden, you might also want to consider composting. When you compost, it helps reduce erosion and establish vegetation.
It also improves water quality by retaining pollutants such as pesticides, nitrogen, and heavy metals. You can check out this article on what to put in a compost bin to get some ideas of what to compost.
15. Adopt a highway
One great benefit of adopting a highway is professional crews will remove litter from the road. As a result, less debris and pollutants get into our waterway.
16. Do volunteer work for the environment
There are organizations and groups out there looking for people to volunteer and help environmental causes. Some of the different things you can look into include:
- Planting trees
- Hosting cleanups
- Protecting public lands
- Joining a conservation group
- Helping out wildlife
Dosomething.org provides some great information on groups you can look into related to helping the environment. Decide one aspect of the environment you really care about and go from there.
17. Reduce food waste
It is incredible how much food is wasted daily. In America alone, 150,000 tons of food is wasted each day. Reducing food waste helps the environment by lowering methane emissions from landfills. It also lowers the emissions that come from moving food waste to landfills.
Medical News Today has great tips for reducing food waste at home. Among the tips you can consider trying include:
- Thinking twice before throwing food away
- Freezing extras
- Avoiding buying too much
- Making a shopping list
- Storing food correctly
18. Ditch fast fashion
Find sustainable brands to purchase your clothing from. Fast fashion brands sell low-quality clothes and show disregard for environmental impact and employee's rights. There many slow fashion brands producing clothes in a way that's fashionable and environmentally-friendly.
19. Throw a clothes/book swap party with your friends
This resolution will get you together with your favorite people and get you some new clothes/books or whatever item you choose to swap. One benefit is it saves your finances by not having to purchase the item. Another is it helps the environment because the items continue being used and don't end up in landfills.
20. Have one fewer child
According to a study, the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is having fewer children. Having one fewer child would bring emissions savings equal to 700 teenagers recycling as much as they can for the rest of their lives.
21. Use green energy
If you can afford the option, consider looking into green energy to power your home. The most efficient forms of renewable energy include hydroelectricity, solar, and wind.
22. Regularly donate to environmentally friendly causes
There are many environmental groups that do good work to help the environment. Look into donating into groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and Sierra Club Foundation.
In addition to donating, be engaged in the political process. Find out who your local elected officials are. Encourage them to support policies and initiatives that help the environment.
Setting environmental resolutions can be a meaningful way to celebrate the new year. Do your best to follow one of these goals to make the world a better place to live.