1) Resolve to reduce the amount of waste you generate. Stop making recreational trips to the store for things that you really don’t need. Instead, try “shopping” in your garage, attic and basement to rediscover items that will finally come in handy. When it’s absolutely necessary to make a pit stop at the store, commit to purchasing items in bulk (which tend to have a lower unit price than smaller versions) and split the cost with friends/family members to ensure that you don’t end up wasting anything. Become loyal to brands that use 100% recycled content, buy products with minimal packaging (rather than individual, pre-portioned versions such as juice boxes and pre-measured coffee pods) and make your own “snack packs” in refillable containers. 2) Resolve to use your car less. Think before you hop in your vehicle. Do you really need instant gratification for that snack fix, or can you group the majority of your errands together in one day? By opting to walk or zip to the store on a bike for shorter trips and strategizing your car route for much lengthier outings, you’ll find that you log fewer miles overall. Alternative forms of transportation such as a bus, train, light rail or a carpooling service will also keep your green momentum flowing, particularly if you live too far away from town to easily ride a bicycle. Another option is leaving a bicycle at your office and running errands midday via pedal. 3) Resolve to purchase or make greener household cleaners. In far too many cases, the chemicals used in mainstream products release volatile compounds into the air that we breathe, creating indoor pollutants that can trigger serious health issues. Additionally, our skin readily absorbs the same elements, potentially leading to allergic reactions and more serious health complications. Biodegradable, chemical-free alternatives benefit not only our lives, but also the health of our planet, and while there are countless green versions available in big-box stores these days, it’s also worth making your own DIY recipes. You’ll save a lot of money while relying on natural biodegradable agents and essential oils — you might even find yourself whistling while you scrub. 4) Resolve to reduce your overall meat consumption. It’s time to let go of the negative connotations associated with vegetarianism and realize eschewing meat on a part-time basis doesn’t mean that you’ll soon be inclined to simmer twig tea on your stovetop. Eating animal protein at every meal is a surefire way to form an intimate relationship with your doctor, plus the actual meat that is produced via the factory farming industry is laden with excessive antibiotics, antimicrobials and pathogens that are all a ticking time bomb in terms of public health. Trading even just one meat-based meal each week for a vegetarian option can help to curb the effects of global warming — and it’s as effortless as slurping up spaghetti and tomato basil sauce, chowing down on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, gobbling up a homemade pizza covered with roasted vegetables and garlic, or sipping comforting split pea soup with fresh green chile cornbread. 5) Resolve to expand your recycling repertoire. There is more to the recycling bin than just paper, plastic and glass! First, find out what your local municipality accepts and then set up separate collection containers in your garage for wine corks (via ReCork); snack food wrappers/chip bags (via TerraCycle); e-waste; yogurt cups, water filters, toothbrushes and razor handles (via Preserve); household textiles (via Grow NYC or countrywide charitable organizations) — anything that could potentially be repurposed into a new consumer item is fair game. 6) Resolve to adopt one new green habit each month. New habits generally take about 30 days to become part of our subconscious, so stay the course if you are sincere about making a green impact this year. Here are just a few of the countless things you might want to aspire to achieve: a) Break free from the allure of bottled water and invest in a tap water charcoal filter instead. b) Keep your faucet turned off while scrubbing dishes, soaping up your hands, shampooing your hair, shaving and brushing your teeth. c) Unplug electronic household items when not in use. d) Stop using disposable products (such as paper towels and plastic cutlery) and revert back to using the real deal. e) Give up your Styrofoam habit. 7) Resolve to think like a greenie. Before you throw anything into a garbage pail, ask yourself, WWAGD (what would a greenie do)? Kitchen scraps can be composted or given to pet rodents. Cardboard packaging and all paper bits should always be deposited in your recycling bin. If you think that something is garbage worthy, at least allow someone else have an opportunity to snag it. Ask friends, family and neighbors if they have an interest in your unwanted item(s), post them on Craigslist, donate them to a charity, place them on your curb with a huge sign that says “FREE!” or don your DIY hat and turn something old into something clever and new. 8) Resolve to be accountable to your new green goals. When you publicly announce that you’re committing to the green side of life, ask your friends and family members to check in with you from time to time regarding your progress or need for motivation. As you regale them with your tales, you may even infect them with the green bug and launch a mini revolution of good, green, clean living. Even if “going green” isn’t for them, ask one trusted person in your circle to get a monthly verbal progress report from you — no way you’re going to let them down, right? 9) Resolve to become an active member of a green-themed community. When you engage with other eco-minded people at monthly meet-ups or green drinks events, you can reaffirm your green goals, grow as a human being and gain new perspectives that will carry you through the entire year. This perpetual source of inspiration is not only fulfilling and intellectually stimulating, but also offers you the motivation to keep on keepin’ on. 10) Resolve to regard your new green commitments with pride rather than resentment. Since we are all residents on earth, each of us uses its resources — some more haphazardly than others — but we are all responsible for what happens in the next chapter. There is no room for finger pointing about what specific individuals and groups have or have not done to help the planet. The best commitment that each of us can make for the benefit and welfare of Mother Nature is to be “in it” all the way by reassessing every avenue of our lives, figuring out how to give it a green angle and smiling while we’re doing it!
New Year’s Eco-Overhaul: 10 Achievable, Planet-Friendly Resolutions
The best commitment that each of us can make for the benefit of Mother Nature is to figure out how to give it a green angle and smiling while we’re doing it!