Every new year is a chance to make a new start. Many people like to greet the new year by incorporating new healthy practices into their daily routines or shedding old habits that are no longer serving them. Though taking steps to improve your health and happiness is a great way to ring in the new year, you should also consider what positive changes you could make to benefit the planet.
The pressure put on individual citizens to reverse the declining health of the planet can feel overwhelming, and so can the concept of actively making changes in your life in order to produce less waste. However, the small contributions of individuals truly do make a difference, and if everyone made just one or two changes to their habits in order to reduce waste and pollution, the effects would be enormous.
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference This New Year
Feeling inspired and don’t want to stop at just one or two positive changes for the environment? Here are 13 eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions that will help you to live a more sustainable, eco-friendly life.
1. Order takeout less, cook at home more
Between food packaging, plastic cutlery, napkins, and the plastic bag holding it all together, enough takeout for even a single person can produce a shocking amount of non-recyclable waste. Make ordering takeout a once-in-a-while treat and when you do order it, make sure to check the “no cutlery” option from your favorite food delivery app or write it in the notes section during checkout.
2. Carry a reusable coffee mug
For many, morning coffee is a must. Luckily, keeping a reusable coffee cup with you is an extremely easy way to get the cup of joe you’re craving while saving a single-use cup and lid in the process. What’s more, most major coffee chains actually offer a discount bringing your own cup!
3. Bring your own bags
The concept of bringing cloth or canvas bags to the grocery store in order to avoid using paper or plastic isn’t new—in fact, some states charge an added fee for those opting into store-provided single-use bags. Reusable shopping bags aren’t only stronger and more durable than paper or plastic bags, they help to keep millions of plastic bags out of landfills each year.
4. Carry a reusable water bottle
Plastic water bottles are one of the most commonly disposed of types of single-use plastic—especially since a single person can easily go through multiple bottles in a day in order to stay hydrated. Using a water bottle made of metal, glass, or durable plastic is an extremely easy way to reduce plastic waste.
5. Use sustainable cutlery
Alongside plastic water bottles, plastic forks, knives, and spoons are very commonly disposed of and can’t be recycled due to their size and food waste contamination. Sustainable cutlery sets are small, convenient, and easy to pull out at mealtimes at work or on the go.
6. Cut down on meat consumption
The meat industry is one of the most significant contributors to climate change. By reducing your consumption of meat or even cutting it out entirely, you can help to make a huge difference in the amount of meat produced each year. When you do buy meat, try to shop the organic farm-grown variety or even support local butchers.
7. Avoid gas-based transportation
When you can, try to ride your bike, walk, or take public transportation as opposed to driving. You can simultaneously reduce your carbon emissions and potentially increase your daily movement, leading to improved health.
8. Avoid fast fashion
The fashion industry is another significant polluter, contributing to global carbon emissions and climate change. You can rescind your support from these companies by shopping secondhand whenever possible.
9. Learn more about recycling
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what is recyclable or not. Find out more about what your city allows in its recycling bins so that you can be more conscientious with your waste.
10. Go paperless
Whether it is a monthly statement or receipts from a local retailer, see if they provide a paperless option. Today’s technology makes it easier to cut back on unnecessary paper trails.
11. Reduce electricity with LED lights
If you have not upgraded your home’s lightbulbs yet, LED lights are made of non-toxic materials, use less energy, are 100% recyclable, and last longer than traditional bulbs.
12. Cut back on water waste
One of the biggest no-brainers when it comes to eco-friendly habits is turning off the faucet when not in use and taking shorter showers when possible. Using a lower water flow when washing your hands or washing dishes can also help to reduce your water waste.
13. Start composting
Composting can help keep inedible scraps out of landfills and can also provide nutrient rich soil for home gardening (also recommended!). According to WWF, "About 11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food. In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions." Also see: Reducing the Impact of Wasted Food by Feeding the Soil and Composting from the EPA.
While small, these are just a few simple changes you can make this year that can add up to a big difference. Here’s to a more sustainable future – and a Happy New Year!
Duebest began with two best friends over one bowl of egg noodles! We were at a restaurant in lower Manhattan when Daphne pulled out her own personal set of chopsticks. We never would have guessed that this small gesture would spark a whole chain of events! Today, we're doing our best to support the zero waste movement through our line of sustainably sourced products including our on-the-go reusable wooden cutlery set, reusable mesh produce bags, silicone stretch lids, and our reusable glass straw with case.