It’s a new year! As everyone is setting their goals for 2022, here are a few sustainable New Year’s resolutions that can help you make an impact on the environment!
1. Bring reusable bags on errands
Plastic bags are convenient, however their convenience is costly to the environment. They are difficult to recycle and are often thrown away. Plastic does break down, but in a landfill it can take up to 400 years; worse, it doesn’t ever become other materials. It breaks down into microscopic pieces of plastic that are still non-biodegradable. Reusable bags are a great alternative to plastic bags. They are relatively cheap, last a long time, and help preserve the planet! They’re also great because you can even choose fun prints and styles that you enjoy!
2. Bring your own reusable water bottle
Plastic water bottles have become a standard commodity. According to the EPA, each week, Americans buy enough plastic water bottles to circle the earth five times! You can make a significant difference if you use a reusable water bottle and avoid purchasing plastic bottles. It saves you money in the long run and lets you choose the style and type of water bottle you want. This easy switch helps you and the environment!
3. Eliminate phantom energy
“Phantom” Energy (also known as “vampire” energy) is the energy used by electronic devices that continue to draw power even though they are “off.” Any device with a “standby” or “instant on” setting is an energy vampire. According to the Department of Energy, energy vampires can add up to nearly 10% of a household’s monthly electric bill. You could be wasting hundreds of dollars’ worth of electricity every year! By using smart power strips you can save money and energy. Some Advanced Power Strips (APS) can prevent electronics from drawing power by having an automatically-timed off switch that can turn all devices plugged into the APS off when you’re not using them. There are also chargers that stop drawing energy when a device’s battery is full. See this infographicopens PDF file from the DOE to see the different options available.
4. Reduce meat intake
Vegetarian diets have grown in popularity as a way to try and reduce ones carbon footprint. However, eating locally and/or switching away from red meat can also have a significant impact on reducing emissions. According to a compiled by the University of Michigan, eating all locally-grown food for one year could save the equivalent of driving 1,000 miles, while eating a vegetarian meal one day a week could save the equivalent of driving 1,160 miles. If you were to replace all your beef consumption with chicken for one year, which could lead to an annual carbon footprint reduction of 882 pounds carbon!
5. Hang your laundry to dry
The NRDCopens PDF file issued a brief that found Americans spend about $9 billion a year on electricity to dry their clothes. Not every region in America has the ability to dry their clothes outdoors year round, but drying them outside for part of the year or using an indoor drying rack can save consumers money and save energy at the same time!
6. Be smart about your cosmetics
Common everyday products such as face and body wash sometimes have something called microbeads in them to help exfoliate your skin. These plastic microbeads, when released into the ocean, cause harm to marine life and may work their way up through the food chain to harming the human populations that consume marine life. Set a goal to make conscious choices to avoid products that have harmful effects on the environment.
7. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
To make it easier on the environment and the atmosphere as a whole, try buying eco-friendly cleaning supplies. From biodegradable degreasers to natural dish detergent, there are plenty of options and popular demand has made them more affordable. These chemicals are less damaging to the environment, and in turn are also safer for household use.
8. Reduce paper towel usage
According to the EPA, paper is the #1 item going into the landfill. It’s safe to say the paper is a big part of our lives and a transition to a paper towel-less lifestyle might be difficult. But you can start by setting a goal to use smaller sheets of paper towel to get the job done. Certain companies sell rolls that are partitioned into smaller sections. You can use a lid or another plate to cover meals in the microwave instead of a paper towel. You could also try using cloth napkins during meals and throw them in the wash load afterwards. The great thing about reusable cloth napkins is that they are a one-time purchase and they will help reduce your environmental impact!
9. Use reusable batteries
Reusable batteries are a great alternative to traditional batteries. According to a study done by the University of Illinois, roughly 3 billion batteries are thrown away every year compared to the 350 million rechargeable batteries that are sold. Investing in re-chargeable batteries may have a higher up front cost, but the investment is more sustainable. Rechargeable batteries can save you money and reduce pollution in the environment!
10. Upcycle or donate!
If you are cleaning out your residence and are considering throwing away items, instead try donating them or give them a new purpose! Recycling an item can be practical, or it can be repurposed into a fun, decorative craft project! Donating items keeps them out of the landfill and can benefit the local community.
Making eco-friendly choices is easy and over the course of the year, could make a real impact! For more information on what you can do to make your 2022 greener, see our blogs below.
- Composting: The Greenest (and Brownest) Way to Recycle
- How to Green Your Building Process
- Insulate and Feel Great!
- Reduce, Reuse, REPAIR, Recycle
- Food Storage Tips to Reduce Waste