If you’re going to make New Year’s resolutions, you might as well make them really count.
The start of a new year is a great time to take stock of your life and your actions and resolve to make a change. And any time is a great time to start minimizing your impact on the planet.
Wanting to live more sustainably is a noble and worthwhile goal. But it can be hard to know where to start — and ideas like “zero waste” and “net-zero” can feel overwhelming and hard to reach.
You don’t have to do it all at once. Here are a few simple changes you can make to take steps toward a sustainable lifestyle.
Plastic bottles and paper coffee cups are among the most common types of waste that gets thrown out. Even though they are often recyclable, the production of these cups requires cutting down trees, burning fossil fuels, and wasting lots of water.
Pick out a reusable bottle and mug that you like. Bring it with you to the cafe and keep it on you throughout the day. You’ll save the planet in style — and you’ll be more likely to stay hydrated, too.
You probably don’t enjoy getting mail from your bank or other companies. Did you know that you don’t have to? Most businesses offer you the option to go paperless, and might even offer you incentives to do so.
Go online and check the settings through your bank, internet service provider, and other companies that send you mail on the regular. Look for the “go paperless” option.
As for junk mail, you can opt out of a lot of it. Register at the Direct Marketing Association and ask them to stop sending you things. Opt out of receiving credit offers to stop those letters from filling your inbox — and then your trash can.
Some trips, like your commute to work, you can’t skip. But others are less essential.
Try to cut down on one trip a week where an alternative is available. Walk to your destination instead, or check public transportation options and see if a bus or train can take you there. You can also explore climate-friendly rideshare options like electric scooters and bikes. One less drive might not seem like much, but it adds up.
Meat, as you probably know, contributes significantly to climate change. From the land and water needed to raise all that livestock to the methane-filled farts and burps that cows release (seriously!), it all adds up to nearly 16% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Changing your diet entirely is a lot to ask, but how about for one day out of the week — or even one meal? Opt for something else. It’ll be good for the planet and your palate.
Have a bunch of stuff that you aren’t using but don’t want to throw out? Try offering it up in your local Buy Nothing group.
The Buy Nothing Project has launched hyper-local communities on Facebook and through its own website that help connect people who are getting rid of things with people in their neighborhood who might be interested in them.
The rules are simple: no bartering, no selling. Just offer up what you have — it’s called “gifting” in Buy Nothing world — and see if someone wants it. This keeps items in circulation longer. Your trash is someone else’s treasure.
You’re probably not using your toaster right this minute. But it’s probably still plugged into the wall.
That means it’s wasting electricity.
So, unplug your appliances when you’re not using them. It’ll save power and money — as much as $200 per year.