During this, the first week of the new year, I’ve spent time looking back on what I’ve accomplished in 2018. I’ve lost some weight, taken up some new physical activities, and checked some long-overdue projects off my to-do list.
Looking back to the green resolutions I made here last January, I feel pretty good. I kept some of them, including installing more smart lighting in our home and using reusable shopping bags more often. But admittedly, I’ve missed the mark on others: I did try using fewer disposables in the kitchen, (I even made beeswax food wraps!) but I haven’t yet gotten up the courage to fully let go of my plastic wrap.
Still: New year, new start! And in that spirit, I have a fresh set of sustainability-focused resolutions that I’ll be striving to adhere to, right along with maintaining my fit lifestyle. Take a peek at my list. I hope it will inspire you!
1. Eat at home more often
Last year, my family vowed to eat vegetarian in January, and this year our goal is to cook and eat at home more often. Part of this is for our health; cooking at home makes it much easier to control portions and reduce the amount of fat and sodium we consume, and of course, it’s cheaper than eating out or ordering takeout.
But there are also environmental savings to be had from eating at home: Cooking healthy meals has been shown to benefit the environment. We’ll be reducing our carbon footprint by driving less, and we won’t be contributing disposables such as straws, paper napkins, and take-out containers to the landfill.
2. Use bike and scooter shares more often
I used to rely on car services for short trips around the neighborhood when I didn’t have access to a car or didn’t want to deal with parking. Then, recently, I used one of the new electric scooter services that have been popping up in my city. What a fun way to travel! And, as it turns out, electric scooters also have significant environmental benefits: A study in Austin, Texas estimates that electric scooters driven in place of cars are reducing carbon emissions by thousands of pounds a week. My husband and I have already agreed that on our next weekend getaway to a nearby city, we’re going to leave our car parked for the weekend and take advantage of a bike share, which can be even more green than electric scooters.
3. Switch to bar soaps and shampoos
Bars of soap and shampoo seem to last way longer than their bottled counterparts, especially if they’re kept on a little rack to help them dry out quickly. And there’s way less packaging to deal with, which means going for bar soaps is an easy way to lower your waste output. For that reason, and because there are so many bar cleansers with clean ingredient lists, I’m weaning my family off liquid soaps and shampoos. There are some great eco-friendly bar-soap options available over at One Twine!
4. Subscribe to more eco-friendly delivery services
There are environmental benefits to shopping online, including minimized resources needed for transportation. This year, I’m starting to research some of the new sources for household consumables like dish detergent, kitty litter, and toilet paper, many of which combine convenience with green missions like using nontoxic ingredients and renewable resources. One company we’re considering for our dish and laundry detergent: Dropps, uses plant-based ingredients, responsibly sourced materials, and ships in a 100 percent recyclable container!
5. Shop more in thrift stores
I was recently in a thrift store looking for some cheap clothes to turn into a costume, and I walked out with an armload of treasures, from designer boots to cashmere sweaters! Now I’m hooked. I always knew the importance of donating my own clothes to thrift stores, rather than throwing them in the trash, but I like being part of the next step of the cycle: Extending the life of a garment or a piece of furniture, rather than buying something new. What’s more, don’t forget that thrift stores are more than just places where those on limited income can stretch their money; they also usually benefit a charitable organization. So I like patronizing stores that support causes dear to my heart, whether it’s a program for abused women or an animal shelter.
6. Gift more experiences
This resolution is one that my husband and I often think about as we’re frantically trying to find space in our too-small house for the latest crop of holiday gifts. Really, our kids don’t need any more toys (and most families would agree). This year, rather than showering my kids with toys and electronics that will likely end up in a landfill within months, we’ll try to use gift-giving occasions as an opportunity to treat them to experiences, such as concerts, weekend trips, or lessons.
We may not always accomplish everything on our resolutions lists, and I think that’s OK. On the contrary, if you accomplish all your goals, perhaps you aren’t thinking big enough! What’s important is making regular efforts and taking steps in the right direction. After all, small steps are better than standing still!