As we welcome in the new year, many are thinking about resolutions – for ourselves, our families, our health, our lifestyle. Now more than ever, it’s important to include the planet in our plans. 13 million deaths annually and nearly 25% of disease worldwide are due to environmental causes. Climate challenges impact health issues like asthma, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
1. Food. Buying food locally will support your area and its workers and decrease costs and environmental impacts of production, processing, packaging and transportation. Meat production destroys our environment by using massive amounts of water, polluting the air, emitting greenhouse gases and pulverizing natural wild habitats. Seafood should be caught wild and not overfished. Avoid fish that comes from farmed fisheries. No matter what you are eating, make sure you eat all of it, nearly 40% of food goes to waste! Choose foods that support rural communities, give animals a good life, provide farmers with fair pay, don’t include additives, and don’t harm the environment.
2. Save water. Water use and demand is at an all-time high, not only dry, arid areas are experiencing water shortages, but there have been shortages in suburbia as well, and even metro areas. Shut water off between uses, hand water your lawn sparingly without an irrigation system, minimize your laundry by wearing clothes and using towels more than once.
3. Shop Less. Fast fashion results in cheap, throw-away clothes which go to landfills and don’t break down. Making these garments creates a carbon footprint. The fast fashion industry also fuels a human rights crisis, cheap garments come at a heavy cost. Before you buy something new, ask yourself if you actually need it, and if you do, does it need to be new, or can you buy a gently used version?
4. Transportation. Car emissions cause diminished lung function, asthma symptoms and cardiac problems. If possible, go hybrid or electric. Cycle to work, or walk, and if you are too far, try using public transportation, carpools or working from home if it’s available.
5. Green Homes. Sustainable homes will cost you less money in the long run and help save our planet. Make sure your home is well insulated and waterproof. While it will cost a little upfront, you’ll save on heat and air-conditioning too. Set your heat and cooling on only when you are home. Plants purify the air and reduce the ambient temperature, act as sound barriers. Homes surrounded by plants use on average 1/3 less air conditioning.
6. No single-use plastics! Do you really need to carry your groceries in a plastic bag, or sip that smoothie through a plastic straw? Nearly 50% of the solid waste worldwide is from single-use plastics. Plastics are swirling in 40% of our oceans. Thousands of marine creatures die by ingesting it or getting tangled in it. 17 billion pounds of plastic continue to leak into our waterway every year. And it never goes away. But there are easy alternatives that can change your life in the new year. Beeswax wraps and bamboo cutlery are more easily degraded, and reusable bags and water bottles could cut our waste down by a lot. Every year, 500 billion plastic bottles are sold. Imagine if they weren’t.
7. Recycle electronics. Making and shipping electronics creates industrial waste and uses massive amounts of water and energy. At last, they end up in a landfill, where their batteries and other hardware can leak toxins into the soil. To ensure safe disposal, hand your old electronics back to specialized centers that will recycle them, or return them to the original manufacturers.
8. Make your voice heard by your government. Vote for representatives and leaders who will enact strong environmental legislation that will be sustainable for decades to come. Follow up with your politicians in office. Remember, they were elected to serve you. Remember that corporations and governments hold the greatest responsibility and the ability to shift the planet away from climate destruction. However, with enough individuals making climate-forward lifestyle changes, we can reach the point of critical mass and potentially sway global leaders in business and government to change for the better as well.
This year, do your best to join the eco-revolution, Say Yes to Life, Earth Thanks! 🌿