Six eco-friendly resolutions to make this year
Although we’re already a couple weeks into the New Year, it’s not too late to think about what kind of changes you can make in 2014. One positive step that could enhance both your life and the planet’s health is to make eco-resolutions. Check out these ideas that could be a fun way to mix up your routines, as well as an achievable way to make a difference beyond your own personal sphere.
- Resolve to buy in bulk. This is one of the easiest (and most fun) ways to be an eco-friendly consumer, because it significantly reduces wasteful packaging; and what’s more, if you do it right, you’re more likely to use only what you need and not let any food go to waste. You can buy rice, grains, flours, pasta, soup mixes, beans, cereals, trail mixes, nuts, dried fruits, sweeteners, and seeds all in bulk (and, of course, chocolates and treats!). What’s more, bulk offerings are often organically grown, and bins are replenished often so the ingredients are super fresh.
- Resolve to mix up your daily commute. Try biking to work, which has becomevery popular in D.C. and has resulted in highly accessible bike lanes and bike paths. It’s easy to sign up for Capital Bikeshare, or you can buy a relatively inexpensive bike at local flea markets or on Craigslist (especially if you strike a bargain). If you have to drive to work, set up a carpool when you can.
- Resolve to shop second-hand. If you haven’t already been inspired by Mackelmore, try buying used clothes, furniture and books; it’s a great way to offset your carbon footprint. ABC News estimates that 98% of clothes purchased in the US come from abroad, so you’ll save a lot of energy by buying a sweater that came from down the street, compared to one from a faraway country like Thailand or India. Plus, there are tons of great thrift and consignment stores in D.C.; and, of course, you’ll save money!
- Resolve to eat vegetarian once a week. It requires at least 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, and approximately 55 square feet of forest are destroyed for a quarter-pound hamburger. Compare that to 244 gallons of water for tofu. Meat-based diets require 10-20 times as much land as plant-based diets, an important figure to consider in the midst of major deforestation problems in countries like Brazil, Honduras and the Philippines; and what’s more, eating vegetarian can produce significant health benefits, including weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease.
- Resolve to spend a day volunteering outside. The spring is a beautiful time to be outdoors, and there are an abundance of organizations in the D.C. area to get involved with. Plant a tree with Casey Trees, or spend an afternoon cleaning up our river with the Potomac Conservancy. Not only will you have fun and do something good for the environment, but being outside will re-enforce your connection with nature and dedication to be eco-friendly in other sectors of your life as well.
- Resolve to stay informed about these issues. One of the best ways to help the environment is to learn about it, and spread your knowledge with friends and family. Subscribe to online newsletters or magazines that feature stories about environmental issues, or read a book about our society’s impact on the planet. Don’t underestimate the simple power of awareness!