10 Environmental New Year’s Resolutions

Environmental New Year's Resolutions

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  I used to make lots of them, and they usually ended up forgotten, typically after just a few days.   So, since I like success, I started limiting my New Year’s resolve to just one or two commitments, and they were the kind of resolutions I thought I could actually keep.

When it comes to Mother Earth, I think our planet will be healthier if we make changes in our lives to live more simply.  We can all think of scores of things we could do to lessen our impact on the planet, but actually doing these things is daunting.  We, myself included, are unwilling and unprepared to change our lives in all the ways that are really needed if we are to save our beloved earth from the ravages of habitat loss, poisoning of the air and water, and climate change.

So instead of making numerous environmental resolutions that we won’t keep, and then feeling guilty besides, I suggest another approach.  On January 1, how about making just one resolution for a specific change you will make in your life, a change that  lessens your impact, even if just a little?  And really think about what resolution you will make;  be sure you can stick with it all year, and that you want to.

So, I invite you to think of a single thing you could be doing now, but aren’t.  Ask yourself if you’re ready commit to it for the duration of 2010, and if so, make your resolution.

Here are just a few  examples of resolutions you might consider making for this year:

1.  I will make make own household cleaning materials.

Many commercial cleaning products contain substances that are toxic for the environment and for human health.  Some simple substances, especially white vinegar, make effective cleaners.  You can read about vinegar’s many household cleaning applications on this website.  Just click on 10 Ways to Clean Your House with Vinegar

2.  I will stop using paper coffee filters and, instead, invest in a plastic or metal reusable filter. 

Why keep adding chlorinated paper to the landfill?  Of course the unbleached paper filters are an improvement, but the reusable coffee filter is the best alternative.

3.  I will keep a reusable bag in my car or purse, so that I can easily avoid taking plastic bags when I shop.

I love my nylon shopping bag that stuffs into a tiny sack that fits right into my purse.

4.  I will replace all my household incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. 

Give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve already done this.  If you’ve replaced some incandescents, but not others, now is the time.

5.  I will recycle my household aluminum, tin, glass, and paper. 

If you already do recycle, think about starting a recycling program where you work.  If colleagues also care about recycling, perhaps you can take turns being the one to deliver the recyclables to your local recycling center.

6.  I will ride a bike. 

Now may be the time to dust off your bike or, if you don’t own one, to buy one.  And start riding it.  Challenge yourself to run at least one of your regular errands by bike.  Look for opportunities to leave your car in the garage and get some great exercise while you also get where you need to go.

7.  I won’t buy bottled water.

There’s simply no need to inundate the environment with plastic bottles that aren’t going to degrade.  Besides, much commercially available bottled water is of no higher quality than tap water.  If you like to have water with you when you’re away from home, you can invest in a metal, reusable water bottle.  Many of the plastic ones contain the harmful bisphenol-A.

8.  I will stay home more.

This could be a hard one, but our addiction to driving whenever and wherever we please is a major cause of global warming.  Ask yourself before planning any car trip whether the drive is important enough that it should be made, despite its harmful impact on the climate.  Try to combine trips, carpool, bike, walk, take public transportation, and socialize in your own neighborhood.  Or simply forego some outings and enjoy yourself at home instead.

9.  I will set and stick to a budget for new clothes.

Most of us have more clothes than we need.  Challenge yourself to keep new clothing purchases in 2010 below a dollar amount that is less than you would normally spend but still doable for you.  Or promise yourself you won’t buy more than a certain number of clothing items during the year, fewer than you would normally buy.  Don’t forget that thrift shops often offer a variety of ‘gently worn,’ very inexpensive, and often good looking clothes.

10.  I will use fewer cosmetics. 

Americans consume a staggering amount of skin creams, shampoos, conditioners, fragrances, lipstick, and on and on.  Phthalates and other harmful chemicals in many cosmetics make their way into our waterways and are contributing to fish kills and fish with both male and female characteristics.  Decide on one product you now use regularly that you can give up.

So have a healthy, happy new year!  I hope you’ll take on something more you can do for a healthy planet.  And feel good about it.–April Moore