2020 was kind of an awful year for most people, and although the new year won’t make our problems magically disappear, I think the symbolic “fresh start” can be cathartic.
That being said, while I’m not the biggest fan of New Year’s resolutions, I still think they’re a good way to set goals for yourself (regardless of how long you actually stick to them).
I hope that these ideas will give you simple ways to incorporate sustainability into your life during the new year, without it seeming like a chore.
1. Incorporate “Meatless Mondays” Into Your Meal Plan- Going entirely vegan may not be an option for everyone, but even having one or two vegetarian or vegan meals a week can greatly reduce carbon emissions.
This article from Global Citizen gives a more in-depth explanation of the environmental benefits of consuming less animal products.
2. Use A Reusable Water Bottle- Switching to a reusable water bottle is arguable the easiest way to cut down on plastic waste, and there’s tons of options available.
3. Shop Only Second-Hand- Fast fashion is one of the primary causes of CO2 emissions from textile factories. Instead, buy from thrift stores or resale apps will to save money and create less waste.
Click here to see my article on the best places to find second-hand clothes.
4. …Or Buy Solely From Small Businesses- Shopping locally and eliminating purchases from big corporations not only reduces carbon emissions, but is also a great way to support independent shop owners.
5. Cancel Your Junk Mail- Junk mail creates tons of extra waste and also contributes to carbon emissions. Sites such as DMAchoice and PaperKarma allow you to cancel junk mail for a small cost, or you can try contacting companies directly to be removed from their mailing list.
6. Switch To Eco-Friendly Cleaners- Harsh chemicals found in cleaning products can be harmful to the environment, as well as yourself. These eco-friendly cleaners are safer for the environment, and less wasteful.
7. Take Shorter Showers- The average shower uses about 2 gallons per minute, so even shortening your shower by a few minutes can save a lot of water.
A good way to make sure you’re not using too much water is by making a playlist to listen to while you’re in the shower. That way whenever the playlist ends, you know its time to get out.
8. Use Public Transportation Once A Week- If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a good public transportation system, use it! This can also save you money on gas and other vehicle expenses.
9. Try Zero Waste Period Products- Switching from single-use period products is super easy and there’s options for everyone. Check out my article on sustainable period products here.
10. Use An Eco-Friendly Search Engine- Instead of searching through Google, try using a search engine like Ecosia that plants trees with the ad revenue generated from searches.
If you don’t want to use Ecosia, here’s 6 more search engines that benefit the environment and people in need.
11. Eat More Meals At Home- Eating at home reduces waste that’s created by take out containers and fast food packaging, and also allows you to know exactly where your food is coming from.
12. Stop/Reduce Amazon Orders- While Amazon is convenient, its also harmful to the environment. This article by The Rising explains the negative effects of purchasing items through Amazon.
13. Get Involved Locally (Vote!)- One of the biggest ways you can fight for the environment as an individual is by voting in all elections, not just the major ones. Websites like Vote411 will let you know canidates’ stances on environmental issues.
14. Educate Yourself On Environmental Issues Knowledge is power! Reading the news, listening to podcasts, or watching documentaries are all good ways to get educated on environmental issues.
Instead of buying magazines or having your newspaper delivered, you can also try finding an online news source to create less paper waste.
15. Make A Monthly Donation To Eco-Organizations- While this may not be an option for everyone, making a small, consistent donation to an eco-friendly nonprofit is a great way to make a difference.
16. Grow Your Own Food- Starting a garden may take some time but there are many hardy fruits and vegetables for beginners, and being able to grow your own food is a great feeling.
17. Ditch Plastic Bags- You can cut down on plastic waste by using a reusable bag at the grocery store or farmer’s market. If you need to buy one I sell them on my Etsy shop!
18. Mend Clothes Instead Of Throwing Them Out- When you find that a piece of clothing has a small hole or tear, your first instinct is probably to throw it away.
This year, try fixing your clothes before you result to throwing them away and buying something new.
19. Switch To Zero Waste Hair Products- In my article on eco-friendly bathroom products I mention that I’ve started using a shampoo and conditioner bar.
This a simple product swap that can reduce a lot of waste and is also much easier to travel with than liquid products.
20. Start A Compost Bin- Composting is a great way to keep organic materials from going to the landfill, and you can use the compost you make to fertilize your plants. This article is good guide if you’re a beginner to composting.
21. Reduce Food Waste- Planning your weekly meals ahead of time is a simple way to make sure that none of the food you buy will end up going to waste.
I hope this list gave you some ideas of eco-friendly resolutions you can commit to in the new year. Remember that leading a sustainable lifestyle may start with small changes, and that’s okay!
Thank you for reading, have a lovely day.