If you’re staring down the barrel of a weight loss resolution you know you will fail at in a matter of weeks, try pledging to do better by the planet this year with these 10 easy New Year’s resolutions.
Yes you read that right. Compost. Even if you live in an apartment building and don’t have a garden, you should be composting so that kitchen waste and food scraps don’t end up in the land fill.
We have a garburator at home and nothing is easier than shoving egg shells, carrot tops and left overs down the drain, but composting improves the planet’s soil condition, helps ensure nutrients for plants and will make you more aware of what you’re wasting. When you know what you throw away because its all in one place you are less likely to overspend at the grocery store and more likely to cook your fresh produce instead of saying good bye to it. Find out more about why soil health is so important in this documentary.
Most apartment buildings in Canada have a composting bin, so there’s no excuse. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have a composting program, contact the building management or your local council about getting one. There may be a community garden near by that would be happy to take your compost. Ask around!
We use Bokashi Composting at home. Find out more here.
2. Recycle your electronics
With Christmas behind us there are a whole host of obsolete electronics in our homes, full of useful components and metals that can be recycled. Some companies, like apple will take there old products and recycle them themselves, but there are stores like Staples that have recycling programs for printers, computers, phones, TV’s you name it and they’ll take it. It’s free and more recycled materials reclaimed from old electronics, equals less being mined from the earth, which has already been plundered.
3. Recycle Light Bulbs and Batteries
These items are super poisonous to the earth and each year tons of them end up in the land fill despite other options being available.
You can recycle batteries and lightbulbs easily at most hardware stores and may recycle depots now take them as well. Just because you can’t put these things in the recycling where you live, doesn’t mean they can’t be recycled, it simply takes a bit of effort.
4. Stop buying plastic
When you’re in the grocery store, think about the packaging on the goods you buy.
Unfortunately most companies won’t change unless it hits them in the pocket, so to effect change you have to vote with your purchases.
Take reusable produce bags to avoid plastic there. Make better choices. For example, when you go to buy mushrooms there are usually two options, the ones that are loose that you put in a paper bag, and the ones in a plastic or styrofoam box that are wrapped with cling wrap for convenience. Choose the former. If enough people did, supermarkets would stop packaging mushrooms in plastic!
Does this mean that sometimes you won’t find a non plastic option? Yes. Maybe it means you have to go to a farmers market or purchase your rice or flour from a bulk bin store, or maybe it means that you don’t get to eat fresh strawberries year round. The upside is that you will discover things that you don’t normally eat!
4. Count your air miles
Not all of us can grow our own food and depending on where you live it can be difficult to eat food grown locally, but we can still reduce environmental impact.
Where did those apples come from? If you have the choice between apples from where you live or a neighbouring country or a place on the other side of the world, choose closer. Foods that are flown from somewhere you’ve never been to and can’t find on the map, were probably harvested early and ripened on their journey across the oceans or through the skies where tons of fuels were burnt up, and seas polluted in the process.
5. Use your scissors
If you buy beer and it comes in one of those plastic ring holders, cut them up before you get rid of them. The same goes for anything netted or looped. Even disposable masks! Sea life and birds get caught and die in these items and you can save them by currying the loops.
Ideally, you want to purchase things that don’t have loops or extra plastic but if you can’t and you really want that six pack from your favourite brewery, do the right thing and cut up the loops.
6. Turn off the lights
Pledge to turn off the lights when you leave the room and unplug electronics.
Don’t leave appliances on standby, they are still drawing electricity and contributing to heating up the planet by burning the energy they use.
In your home, your TV and cable box are probably the biggest drain! You’ll save yourself some money at the same time as caring for the planet.
7. Get Thrifty
Shop second hand when you can. I made the decision to stop buying new clothes last year and since then have been thrifting. I’ve managed to easily find what I need clothing wise at two thrift stores near where I live. I’ve also gotten rid of old clothes there which has freed up more closet space!
8. Give Stuff Away, someone will use it!
We dispose of things all the time that still have plenty of life left in them. Everything from clothes to pottery goes in the bin, because we decided we want a change, or were gifted something new.
Join or start a Buy Nothing Group on Facebook. The idea is that when you have something you no longer want you take a picture and post the details in the group. People express their interest and you give it away. Most groups have rules in place about how to select who gets the item when multiple people are interested.
It feels great to get rid of your clutter, and knowing that it’s going to someone who will use and enjoy it will fill you with good vibes!
9. Go Paperless
Stop receiving mail that you look at once and throw away. Bills and other documents are almost always available via email or as digital copies. Storing things like this on the cloud or in your computer reduces paper waste, and the energy expended to print, and deliver your letters. Plus if you need to reference something quickly, you can just check on your phone or computer and have it instantly.
In stores, you can often get email receipts or get your receipt by text, you won’t lose it, so if you need to make a return you’ll have everything you need.
10. Say no to single use
Stop using single use everything. Plastic bags, coffee cups, straws, cutlery, food sachets etc.
It is always going to be more convenient to grab what you need on the go, but if you start being intentional about not using single use items, over time you will be more prepared with things like your morning coffee, or grocery bags. It takes practice, like anything, but it’s worth it.
There are compostable alternatives to straws and cutlery, reusable items are available in lots of high street stores and you know you can carry a reusable cup for coffee or water.
Take on all 10, pick a few, or choose just one, but commit to your resolutions and you will be on your way to becoming an earth warrior! Plus it will make you sound way more interesting when people ask what your New Year’s resolutions are, than saying “join a gym…” Good luck, and Happy New Year!