Resolutions are played out and we all know it.
But a lot of us really would like to get better at human-ing without ruining the environment. Instead of setting lofty ambitions with no real implementation date, just do one of these fairly easy things per day for the first week of the year to make the rest of your year better for the Earth.
Day 1: Turn over a new leaf (of expired spinach).
Have veggie or fruit leftovers from your New Year’s Eve party that you had too much champagne to refrigerate before bed?
The Environmental Protection Agency says that yard waste and food scraps make up 20-30% of what we throw away, and if they make it to landfills, they give off methane, which has a strong influence on the Earth’s greenhouse effect.
That’s totally within your power to change!
Day 2: De-junkify your mailbox.
Sign up for the National Do Not Mail List and reduce the amount of junk mail you’re receiving. This is the kind of detox fad I could really get behind.
Day 3: Have a barrel of fun showing your neighbors a better way to water lawns.
Set up a barrel for rainwater to hydrate your lawn. If you live in a house and the temperatures are still above freezing where you live, this is a great project to get done now. Check your local ordinances to see if they have any regulations around it, though.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Install concrete blocks in a garden next to a downspout; make sure they are level.
2. Set barrel securely on blocks with its spout toward the garden.
Follow the rest of these instructions from This Old House and read about pitfalls to avoid. You won’t reduce your water bill by a ton. But because the water you use for your lawn doesn’t need all the public treatment that your other water does, you save the environment in those hidden ways. If more people did it, it’d be substantial for our communities’ overall consumption.
Day 4: Don’t be a garbage human.
Talk to your family or roommates about trying the Zero Garbage challenge (or just take it on yourself).
One woman was able to get her garbage production for two years down to one 16-ounce mason jar.
Even if you don’t achieve what she did, you’re still likely to drastically reduce your waste!
Day 5: Change the way you veg.
These are organizations that do the growing and harvesting work. You chip in and get to enjoy the fruits of the labor.
You’ll benefit from pickup locations near you and be sourcing produce and/or meats and dairy locally, which will reduce demand and cut down on the amount of cross-country shipping (and emissions) happening with grocery store chains.
Day 6: Smack those car keys right out of your own hand.
Make a list of the types of trips you take in your car each week. Think about the ones that could be eliminated (by walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transit) or consolidated into the same trip. Every time you eliminate or consolidate a car trip, give yourself a check mark on your calendar. When you get 10, treat yourself to a movie or something delicious!
Day 7: Rethink what you’re putting in your tires.
It’s a secret not enough people know about. Find a nitrogen dealer near you and see about having the air in your tires replaced with nitrogen. Nitrogen is made of larger molecules than oxygen, so it is less able to seep through the pores in rubber. It costs anywhere from $5-$20 per tire to do this (and much cheaper when you get the occasional top off, which is much less frequent since there is so little normal leakage).
The result is increased gas mileage from maintaining more stable tire pressure year-round. You can calculate the difference here!
So give the resolutions a rest and just put a little dedication in during the first week of the year. You’ll feel smarter and like a better environmental citizen for the rest of the year!