New Year’s Resolutions: 7 Ways to Be Sustainable in 2019
Article by Meaghan E Duda
The start of a new year is a great chance to start fresh and set new goals. We often focus on improving our personal health, but something that isn’t as frequently promoted is improving the health of our planet. This January, I encourage you to set a New Year’s resolution to be more sustainable. Although we all know how important it is to be ecofriendly, it can be hard to know where to start. But being sustainable doesn’t require an extreme lifestyle change; even the smallest actions make a big difference. There is an endless list of things you can do to go green, but we at 37 North want to share a few of our favorites with you. These 7 tips are easy and inexpensive while still having a profound impact on our environment. I encourage you to choose a few to be your ecofriendly resolution for 2019.
1. Go meatless. Even one day a week has a huge impact, or just cut out red meat! According to National Geographic, eating beef is actually more harmful to the planet than driving a car. Eliminating meat may not be a viable option for everyone, but going meatless just one day a week has a huge impact! Studies have found that skipping beef for one week is the equivalent of not driving for almost 3 months! This is because the practices necessary for raising cattle come with a big environmental cost. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef. If you’re looking for a simple way to make a huge impact, going meatless one day a week is the perfect New Year’s resolution for you and your family!
2. Cancel junk mail. Did you somehow end up on a random company’s mailing list? I know I’m guilty of throwing junk mail away every time I get it rather than unsubscribing. Take just a few minutes to contact them and remove your name from their list. This will help reduce unnecessary paper waste.
3. Switch out your toothbrush. Over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills each year in North America alone, and it takes 400 years for a toothbrush to decompose. That’s an unbelievable amount of unnecessary plastic waste piling up. Many companies are now producing alternative toothbrushes made from bamboo. Because it is naturally antimicrobial and the fastest growing plant on Earth, it’s the perfect substitute! Bamboo toothbrushes are 100% biodegradable and very affordable, costing only $3 each.
4. Use natural cleaning supplies. This helps you save money, avoid harmful chemicals, and reduce waste! It may sound a bit daunting to create your own cleaners, but combinations of baking soda and vinegar will do the trick. Unfortunately, many cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that you don’t want in the air. Making environmentally friendly cleaners gives you the freedom to control what chemicals are used in your home and the peace of mind that your products won’t harm you. Furthermore, most cleaning supplies are sold in plastic containers, which are then thrown away only to be replaced by a new plastic bottle. When you create your own, you can continue to reuse the container each time!
5. Buy secondhand clothes. The process of manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and distributing clothing takes a toll on the planet. Next time you need expand your wardrobe, hit up your local thrift store to see what you can find. Both your wallet and the planet will thank you!
6. Go to the library. The public library has an endless supply of resources…all for free! Checking out materials from the library is an easy way to be eco-friendly. Rather than ordering magazines, get them here. This prevents you from throwing them away after reading. Instead of buying new books, visit your local library first and see if they’re available. You can also rent movies and video games for free, which helps eliminate additional waste.
7. Contact your representatives. Policies are being made at the local, state, and federal level that have enormous impacts on our environment. Stay informed and reach out to your elected officials to voice your opinion!