Green Habits for the New Year

Who is excited for the New Year?! I’ve heard LOTS of varying opinions of 2016 (worst year ever, best year ever, and everything in between). Regardless of how you felt about 2016, 2017 is right on its heels and with that comes all the New Year festivities and New Years Resolutions (dun dun duuun). I am not a maker of New Years resolutions, but what I do like to do is take this time to reflect on the past year, think about the new year, and try to reassess my life and my goals. Are there things I want to do more of? Are there things I want to do less of? Are there changes I want to make to get me closer to a goal? Have I reached some goals and do I need/want to create new ones? I find that the end of the year/start of a new year is a really good time to take stock of everything. I’m starting off with a clean slate, all sorts of potential, so how can I make the most if it.

The New Year is a time when a LOT of people decide to try to make new habits to better fit their lifestyle, or to get them toward a goal they have (I’m sure everyone is familiar with the New Year, New You phrase). On that note, I have compiled a list of green habit suggestions to think about including in your life in the new year. Some are small, some are pretty substantial, so try to pick one or a couple that you can easily fit in with your life.

Greener Living Tips for the New Year

  1. Incorporate Meatless Mondays (or Tuesdays, or Wednesdays…etc.) into your meal plans
  2. Swap out your cleaning products for green ones when they need to be replaced (or even use some natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice)
  3. Use rags or unpaper towels instead of paper towels around your house
  4. Use cloth napkins rather than paper disposable ones
  5. Pick better plastics or try to avoid plastics entirely
  6. Calculate your carbon footprint and identify places you can reduce your impact
  7. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store
  8. Stop drinking (disposable) plastic water bottles
  9. Buy renewable energy for your house
  10. Switch out your light bulbs for CFLs or better yet LEDs when they need to be replaced
  11. Add insulation to your house
  12. Install Energy Star and high efficiency equipment in your house
  13. Buy more “slow fashion” and less “fast fashion”
  14. Buy personal care products with less chemicals in them (check out the EWG skin deep guide for help)
  15. If your in the market for a new car, consider a hybrid or plug-in electric car
  16. Take shorter showers
  17. Compost (for help with what you can/can’t compost, check out this guide)
  18. Track how much waste you or your family generates for a week and find ways to reduce it
  19. Buy products made from recycled materials
  20. Do proper maintenance on your car, HVAC system, refrigerator, and other appliances and equipment to keep them operating at their optimum efficiency
  21. Carpool, walk, bike, or take public/alternate transportation
  22. Unplug and shut off as many appliances as you can when they aren’t in use. If the plugs are inaccessible, consider a power strip, or a remote or wi-fi enabled plug.
  23. Install – and program – programmable thermostat(s)
  24. Use a drying rack to dry your clothes (or hang them outside if you can!)
  25. Unsubscribe and stop junk mail
  26. Use dishwashing powder rather than liquid soap
  27. Try to reduce the energy in your meals (ex: use a toaster oven vs. traditional oven when possible)
  28. Recycle more! There’s always more that can be recycled rather than thrown away, try to up the amount that you recycle
  29. Read up on living green (or follow blogs or Instagram accounts or people on LinkedIn that are being green and inspire you)
  30. Reuse more! Nearly everything can be reused in some way or another. Get creative and reuse what you have rather than buying new things, you’ll generate less waste AND save money. Win-win!
  31. Support your local economy – like buying more food from a local farmer’s market
  32. Invest in green and sustainable companies
  33. Think about ecotourism for your next vacation vs. a traditional one
  34. Volunteer or donate to charities focused on sustainability, the environment, social justice, wildlife protection, or other environmental and socially responsible causes
  35. Buy products with less packaging
  36. Buy sustainably sourced fish
  37. Buy second hand instead of brand new
  38. Use zero-VOC paints and finishes
  39. Buy house furnishings made from natural fibers and materials
  40. Take the stairs
  41. Garden with native species
  42. Donate or Freecycle items you no longer need (especially if you decide to drastically reduce the amount of belongings you have)
  43. Buy items that have certifications (that mean something*) such ENERGY STAR, WaterSense, Cradle to Cradle Certified, Green Seal, Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified, and Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) *Not all certifications are legitimate, some are an attempt at “greenwashing” so make sure to do your research if the certification isn’t on this list
  44. Always have a full load in the dishwasher and washing machine
  45. Install water saving appliances such as a more efficient shower head, aerators for your faucets, and a dual-flush toilet
  46. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth
  47. Identify and eliminate “disposable” products in your life (already mentioned two above – water bottles and napkins/paper towels)
  48. Take action in your community to educate others about green and sustainable living
  49. Speak up! Get in touch with businesses you love (local or otherwise) and tell them it matters to you if they are sustainable and ask what they are doing about it. Reach out to your political representatives and tell them you want them to support green and sustainable initiatives. Talk to your friends about what you’re doing and show them it isn’t hard (or inconvenient, or expensive, or difficult, etc.) to also make changes in their lives.
  50. Reflect on everything you are grateful for, and blessed to have, instead of thinking about all that you don’t have

This list could go on and on, so I’m halting it at 50. That seems like a pretty substantial number for people to get ideas from. If you have any other ideas, things that you are doing, or problem areas in your life that you’d like to “green-up” and want some help – let me know! Send me an email, leave a comment, or go to the “contact” page under “About Me” and fill out the form. I’d love to hear what you’re doing in your life.

I have also included some resources below that helped me compile this list or websites where you can read more and get involved. You can also check out my “Resources” tab above for a lot more information.

Resources:

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I live in upstate NY and am trying to live a more sustainable life. Join me!

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