Reducing your carbon footprint and building community go hand-in-hand toward creating a better planet.
On this first day of the year, you’ll always hear people talking about which resolutions to make for the new year. It’s pretty divided; some people do this every year in good order, others fail constantly and yet others never do a New Years version as they set goals throughout the year. I fall in the latter camp. But every new year I find myself choosing resolutions that I know are achievable and allow me to be more committed to green lifestyle practices that I already embrace. The point, after all, is improvement, not failure.
What follows is a list of 10 ideas for New Year’s resolutions that relate to the many topics of sustainability. Each one of these would make an admirable resolution that not only would improve the quality of one’s personal life, but also that of the planet.
#1: Don’t look at your phone when you are together with family and friends. Spend the focus on the people. Train yourself to leave your phone out of sight, instead of putting it on the table.
#2: Ride a bike or walk for trips under 5 kilometers (3 miles).
#3: Buy no new clothing. Teach yourself what it’s really like to make do with what you have. Or worst case buy second hand / consignment.
#4: Read more books (or listen). Use your library card or go to second hand book stores. Learn more about the planet, cultures and yourself.
#5: No plastic bags for groceries. Use cloth produce bags and reusable containers.
#6: Repair before you replace. This may require researching things you’ve never looked into before but you’re bound to learn a lot.
#7: Cook all meals at home and eat with family members. Allow yourself 1-2 exceptions per month, but make the transition easier by meal planning and prepping ingredients on weekends.
#8: Reduce your household belongings significantly. Read Joshua Becker’s brand new book, The Minimalist Home, and it will tell you exactly how and why you should do this.
#9: Save a greater amount of your take-home pay. Be crazy. Aim high, like 30-50 percent. Every bit counts. The key is not so much to save aggressively as it is NOT to spend.
#10: Spend time outside every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it does have to happen every single day. Go explore the outdoors.
Mark van Engelen is founder Nya Sustainability Consulting, a consulting firm helping organizations implement sustainability. Services include sustainability strategy development, zero waste planning, GHG emissions calculating and planning, energy/water management, employee engagement and guidance in B Corp and carbon neutral certification.