If you’re anything like the rest of us New-Year Resolutioners, you’re likely (hopefully) well on your way to ditching your old 2015 habits, and working towards a healthier, wealthier, happier, you! With the holidays behind us, most of us are trying to lose those extra pounds or finding ways to spend less money; but have you considered really turning a new leaf, and going green in 2016?
The end of 2015 paved way for the world to pursue many ambitious, international green resolutions. The December Paris climate conference for instance, united 195 countries together in a revolutionary agreement to collectively combat climate change by acting to globally reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to The World Bank, COP21 brought together over 450 cities, with a population of nearly 1 billion people, in a pledge to cut their carbon emissions by 50% within the next 15 years. With new legally binding targets, industries and governments worldwide are anticipating 2016 to be “the year of green energy” and “the global green economy’s best year yet.”
Still, political and corporate leaders committed to these objectives will only deliver results if they can secure the support of their parties, partners, consumers, and the public at large. Strength in numbers has never had such potential. Environmentalist Rick Bates, from the Canadian Wildlife Federation, says that our every day actions, no matter how small, play a significant role in cutting global carbon emissions.
If we are truly to make 2016 the breakthrough year in our journey to a globally sustainable economy, it’s time we recognize sustainability as a personal responsibility and opportunity to better ourselves and our planet. At first glance however, this task can seem monumentally challenging.
But, what if I told you that adding eco-New Year’s resolutions to your list, can actually help you achieve your other 2016 goals, such as exercising more, spending less, or starting a special project? There are numerous simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint this year while working towards a better you! Here’s how you can green your personal New Year goals:
Know your impact: The first step to making real, sustainable changes is to know the implications of your day-to-day activities – both in terms of their environmental impact, as well as their financial costs. YouSustain is an excellent online resource that can help you achieve your personal sustainability goals. Check out the organization’s Sustainable Actions and How Much CO2 Is That? calculators to find out how much CO2 is emitted by your daily actions, such as driving to work or eating a animal-protein rich diet, and how much money you could be saving by greening these activities!
Save more money [by investing in energy efficiency]. When buying new products for your home, look out for EPA's ENERGY STAR label to help you make the most energy-efficient purchases. The label can be found on various home appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment. Over their lifetime, ENERGY STAR products in your home are said to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 130,000 lbs (CO2), while saving you $11,000 on energy bills. Switching to low-flow showerheads, for example, is estimated to save the average household $150 and 297 lbs CO2 per year, per showerhead! By washing four loads of laundry a week with cold water instead of hot, you could save up to 593 lbs of CO2 and up to $27 a year. And, by changing five inefficient light bulbs in your home to Compact Florescent light bulbs (CFL), you could save up to 770 lbs of CO2 emissions and up to $35 a year!
Get healthy [by eating more sustainably]: Losing weight, one of the most popular New Year's resolutions worldwide, can help combat the estimated 1 billion extra metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions that is added to the atmosphere each year, due to higher fuel and food demands of those who are overweight. Let’s take the average North American’s meat consumption for instance, which has proven to be expensive, energy intensive, and, as increasing studies show, often preventing you from meeting his or her health and weight loss goals. You can support your new resolution to get healthy and save money, by reducing your weekly meat consumption. But, you don’t need to go cold turkey! A reduction in meat consumption by 50% would have the effect of reducing almost 1,653 lbs of CO2 per year! Why not start by not eating meat for lunch, and by having only a small portion for dinner? Learning to cook a few choice vegetarian meals will help save you money, add variety to your palate, and cut emissions from our atmosphere.
Start a cool new project or learn a new skill [with sustainable food]: Some of us this year have pledged to take up a new hobby or learn something new. How about starting your own organic garden? Many don’t realize that conservation efforts can start right in your own backyard. You can save about 2 lbs of CO2 for every 1 lbs of fruits or vegetables you grow yourself. Following organic gardening practices will sustain soils and plants, absorb carbon, promote biodiversity, while contributing to your goal of getting healthy and reducing costs – something to consider when the summer months roll in!
Get active by [driving less]. Biking or walking to work, school, or the gym as compared to driving not only cuts your carbon production, but also offers health benefits such as exercise and giving you some time to relax and reduce stress on the way home. According to YouSustain, the average Western commuter can save up to 1,100 lbs of CO2 and up to $500 per year by switching to sustainable transportation! Rick Bates also suggests that in order to make it easier to stay committed to your eco-resolutions, try exploring fun, new activities connected to nature, such as going for hikes, cross-country skiing, canoeing and even taking photographs in the outdoors – Bates claims this may keep you more motivated to going green.
Give your personal new years resolutions an eco-facelift by joining the world’s pledge to making 2016 green. Not only does vowing to reduce your carbon footprint help to counteract our warming climate, it can result in financial savings, as well as the enhancement of your overall well-being. Whether it’s eating healthy, or reducing your energy use, an eco-resolution can help you reach your goals while instilling a sense of pride for helping create a brighter, more sustainable future.
You will save the Earth by sharing and/or tweeting (corny right?)