While New Year’s resolutions are often made in an effort to improve ourselves in some way—floss every day, go to the gym, learn a language—it’s entirely possible that we could make resolutions that both make us better as individuals, as well as benefit the planet. And, if we could make the world greener, then we could be healthier and so could our neighbors and so could the animals and rivers and plants. Doesn’t that seem like a wonderful thing to devote oneself to?
In that mind space, it seems the perfect time to consider the different ways we might have a greener year in 2021. There are so many options out there, so many resolutions at our disposal for keeping the planet clean, for cleaning it up and/or for making our lifestyles more respectful of the environment. This year could be yet another year of change, another year in which we could start to right the wrongs we see in the world. Let’s do it!
Keeping the Planet Clean
Keeping the planet clean means changing some of those things we do, particularly the everyday stuff, that adds to the pollution, landfills, and industrial waste that is dirtying things up. We have to reduce our waste!
- Stop accepting take-out cups for coffee. There are many other options, such as making coffee at home, getting a reusable mug or requesting a real cup to sit in the café with.
- Create less packaging. It’s difficult to avoid all packaging, but we can all use less and choose better. We can buy secondhand, avoid what we don’t need, and use bulk bins.
- Boycott plastic bags. Places have gotten rid of them, but just as many still double-bag stuff. It’s time to swear off plastic bags. Get reusable bags to keep in the car or in a backpack. If the reusable bag isn’t around, look for a box or another way to carry everything.
- Travel efficiently. Much of North America is spread out and requires driving, but we can travel more responsibly. That means minimizing trips to the shop, carpooling when possible, and walking when it’s a reasonable option.
- Use eco-friendly cleaning products. Or, simply make them at home. OGP has lots of easy, all-natural, and extremely inexpensive recipes for cleaners.
Cleaning Up the Planet
Cleaning up the planet is a little different than reducing waste, though both are very proactive worthy pursuits. Reducing waste is avoiding creating more waste, while cleaning up the planet is actively removing items from the waste stream.
- Compost the compostable. Organic materials are not garbage. They are the potential for future, healthy soil. Making compost instead of garbage is one of the best ways to clean up the planet.
- Adopt a space. The strip of grass across the street or an abandoned lot nearby or a favorite stretch of beach—We can vow to pick up litter every week and maintain the cleanliness of a space that isn’t necessarily ours. Everyone and the planet benefits.
- Repurpose stuff. It would be better not to get new things we don’t need, but when we do replace things, we should consider whether or not the item being replaced can be donated to thrift stores.
- Volunteer or donate. There are organizations out there trying to clean things up, so we can support them with either our time or our money. Check some of the organizations out and help one on their mission.
- Plant trees. Trees are tremendously important for keeping the planet clean. They clean the air. Their roots prevent erosion. They help to filter polluted water.
Making Our Lifestyle Respectful
Of course, the most impactful way of living green is much more than one-off efforts. Changing our lifestyles to be more conscious of our effect on earth is impactful on a daily basis.
- Grow a Garden. Producing food at home is healthier for us and the planet. It’s good for the birds, bees, air, and soil. Grow organically. Grow with diversity. Grow for fun.
- Hang out laundry. Whether it’s a clothesline or a drying rack, hanging out the laundry rather than tumble drying will significantly reduce the energy used and pollution created.
- Eat eco. For meat-eaters, this means eating less meat. For plant-based eaters, this means looking for sustainable and organic sources for our food. And, cooking at home is part of it, too.
- Use less energy. While buying efficient light bulbs and that whole lot is great, we can also simply elect to use the air conditioning less, the heating less. We can watch less TV, stay off the computer, and take shorter showers.
- Shop selectively. While we can’t produce all of our own needs, we can do our best to find companies that do it in a responsible way. That goes for food, clothing, plumbing fixtures, and everything in between. As consumers, we can speak with our dollars.
Undoubtedly, some of these topics are broad. Maybe “eat eco” translates to buying organic, fair trade products, or “use less energy” means reading a book a month when the TV would normally be on. However these resolutions translate, we can have them or similar ideas in mind this New Year’s Day, when it comes time to commit to something. And, perhaps knowing that our resolution is a little more altruistic will inspire us to stick to it. Good luck and happy new year.
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