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5 Green Goals for the New Year

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Making and working towards goals is an important part of our well being. This year, I’m making sure my resolutions are good for me and for the planet.

It’s another new year, and another chance for a fresh start! Even if by April I’ve slacked on most of my resolutions, I still love the process of thinking about how I can better myself and my habits, and making a list of things I want to change.

It’s more important than ever for American citizens to do their part to combat climate change, so I’m dedicating my 2017 resolutions to little things that I can do to reduce household waste, minimize energy usage, and live more sustainably. Here are some of my goals. I’d love to hear yours — be sure to post them below!

1. Keep my car clean. I recently recommended keeping a bag in your car to corral recyclables like scraps of paper and empty plastic bottles. This year, I’m going to practice what I preach by regularly cleaning up trash in my car (recycling what I can, of course) and encouraging my kids and husband to bring in their sports equipment, folding chairs, and other stuff that always seems to pile up in the back seat and the trunk. Not only will it feel good to make a habit of making sure that the recyclables make it to my curbside bin, but removing that extra weight will help save fuel, which is good for the environment, and my wallet.

2. Run errands on my bike. As much as I’ll enjoy driving around in my cleaner car, I do want to try to leave it at home when I can, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I recently got a crate that fits on the back of my bike, perfect for smaller grocery runs. With a new supermarket less than a mile from my house, there’s no excuse not to bike there.

3. Bring a collapsible water cup everywhere. I rarely order soda when I’m at a restaurant, usually opting for water instead. At many casual restaurants, this means that I’m issued a little plastic cup to use for my water, which then goes in the trash since most restaurants haven’t gotten onto the recycling bandwagon. To avoid this unnecessary waste, I’m going to invest in a couple of portable water cups that I can keep in my bag for using at restaurants or filling at water fountains. I estimate that I could personally save at least 400 cups from ending up in landfills with this small change… imagine how big that number would be if we all did this!

4. Recycle more consistently. I have a confession to make: When I was cleaning out my refrigerator the other day, I threw a few expired jars and plastic containers of leftovers in the landfill-bound trash. I know I should’ve emptied them of stinky food waste, washed them, and put them in the recycling bin, but I was too grossed out by what I might find (or smell!) if I opened them. I’ve been feeling a bit guilty ever since, especially when I imagine those containers bobbing along in an ocean garbage patch. This year, I promise I’ll take that extra time and I know that in addition to being better for the environment, those extra moments will make me feel better too.

5. Use up leftovers. I read recently that a staggering one-third of all food produced in the world, doesn’t get consumed (and believe me, that added to my guilt when I was cleaning the fridge!). It might take a little more planning, but this year I want to get creative about buying less food, using up what we have, and eating leftovers before they go bad. This might mean saying no to impromptu dinners out, or eating the same thing a couple of days in a row, but it’ll also mean a fridge that doesn’t require occasional emergency purging, and a lower grocery bill. Most importantly, it means less food in the landfills, contributing to the organic waste issue that can contribute to greenhouse gases.


What are your green goals for this year? Share your resolutions in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan
I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same. more
  • Sondra T. 3 months ago
    Storage in glass jars in my kitchen. Jars are from yogurt that I buy every other week. Works great no plastic in my house!!!
  • Audrey W. 3 months ago
    My husband and I refuse plastic bags when we can and have begun to drink in restaurants without using a straw.
  • joanna l. 5 months ago
    A collapsible cup is a great way to drink water on the go (like from a water fountain or cooler) and avoid carrying around a heavy water bottle.
  • June S. 5 months ago
    I put a little removable label on leftovers when I put them in the fridge/freezer. The label contains the date and contents. If I know I won't be able to eat it within a week, it goes in the freezer. Once a week, I clean out the fridge - what hasn't gotten eaten goes into a container to be taken to the county composter. I am fortunate that our county has a composter and there is a location close by where I can take my compostables once a week. It is located in the same park where they have recycle bins for almost all of my recyclables, so I can combine errands. Any hazardous waste I may have can also be taken there since the county has a hazwagon there for 4 hours one day a week. I had some very old fluorescent ceiling lights replaced last week, I took the old ones to the hazwagon. The new ones are LED and should use much less energy. The local Publix is just another 1/2 mile up the road from where the hazwagon is stationed, so I combine my grocery shopping with my recycling and BONUS - they have a bin outside the store to recycle plastic bags (even though I do not use plastic grocery bags, it's amazing and disheartening how much plastic I still manage to collect every week!) and one where I can recycle the foam meat trays, Having so much recycling available means my trash output is quite small - it will all usually fit in one 8 gallon trash bag! Taking a bike to run my errands would not be practical at all, so that's really not an option for me. I don't even own a bike. But I do limit how many days a week I am out on the road and combine errands. I do them in one part of town on my way home from church every week, and in another part of town when I do my recycling. It's very rare that I go out more than twice a week. I think I only filled up the tank on my vehicle 10 times this year! Not too bad. I also received a set of stainless steel straws for Christmas, so I can say NO to straws in restaurants and use my own. Since I live near the ocean, that's a big deal around here.
  • Marilu K. 10 months ago
    we run errands all at the same time going from farthest away to nearest to save gas, time, etc.
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