Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

Very reasonable and doable sustainability tips for those wanting to go green.

Six Sustainability Tips to Kick Off The New Year

The time-honored New Year tradition is to vow that when the calendar flips to a New Year, you are going to flip to a New You. That’s why January is often the month where people think about losing weight, exercising regularly, eating more healthy food, saving money and quitting horrible habits such as, say, smoking.

Most of it is self-improvement. But some changes you can make will help not only you, but the planet.

Below, we’ve listed some reasonable, doable goals that will help sustain a healthy environment. But here’s the trick: doable goals are only doable goals if you actually do them.

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do everything at once (more on that below). The key is to try and do the best you can. No one changes overnight but good habits can stay good habits with focus and effort.

Six Tips to Help the Environment (Plus a Bonus Idea)

Six Sustainatility Tips That Are DoableCarpool. Yes, people have talked about carpooling together on the way to work for decades. But look around the next time you are in a rush hour traffic jam. There are still a lot of cars with just the driver and no one else, aren’t there? And carpooling is not just for work. You can also plan with friends to make trips together to stores – the weekly trip to the grocery store, for example, or a big department store run. It also works well for going out on social occasions, particularly if one person chooses to be the designated driver.

Walk or ride a bike. You don’t have to live in Europe or New York City to take on this habit. If the store where you are going is within 2 miles of where you live, you should consider walking or bicycling there. This not only saves on carbon dioxide omissions, but also burns calories for you and improves your fitness.

While it’s true most American neighborhoods are designed around cars, with some searching you can typically find sidewalks or low-traffic streets on which to make your journey. Even if you do it one out of every two or three times, the impact is big for you and the environment.

Buy media electronically. Sure, you might be old-school and like the feel of a book in your hand. But is that feeling worth what it took to create that book? Or even better, do you really need to buy music CDs or movie DVDs that are packaged in plastic and often shipped to you using an excessive amount of packing materials? One of the great goods of technology is that most media – books. music, movies – can be purchased and downloaded digitally and stored on a computer. Doing so eliminates the impact on the environment of your decision to watch the Christopher Nolan “Batman” movies again.

Eat less meat. This can be tough for Westerners, especially Americans, who are used to a meat intense diet. But the truth is American eat many times the amount of meat as people do in poorer countries, and the carbon dioxide emissions are much higher, according to a study from the University of Chicago. That study also found that those who eat meat at the level of average Americans cause about 1,500 kilograms of carbon dioxide to be released each year over that produced in a diet that uses more plant sources. This is because producing meat leaves a larger environmental footprint.

Get your car tuned up. A gasoline engine that has not been tuned regularly runs inefficiently, burning more gas and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And yes, keep those tires properly inflated, too! You’ll use less fuel.

Shut off electronics completely. Most people leave electronics plugged in or even on when not in use, a complete waste of energy. Get into the habit of turning things off and unplugging them when not in use – or simply switch off the power bar they are plugged into. The same goes with lights – why keep them on when no one is in the room or, worse yet, in the house? Along these same lines, considering turning off the air conditioning or heater when no one is home.

Bonus Idea

Plant a tree. It’s just a good idea. Here is the simple fact: trees take in carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen. That’s a good thing. Help that good thing happen more often in your neighborhood by planting a tree.

Don’t Get Discouraged

You would also do well to keep some tips in mind for actually achieving these New Year’s resolutions, something less than 10% of people actually do.

The first key is to set goals that are reasonable, something you’ve already done if you adopt the resolutions above. But here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Be patient with yourself. You’re not going to go from doing none of the above to doing all of the above overnight. Accept you will make mistakes.
  • Speaking of mistakes, learn from them. Don’t beat yourself up about them. That’s not going to help anyone or the environment.
  • Celebrate when you get it right. Too few people allow themselves a celebration when they do the right thing. It’s important to recognize when you are getting it right.

So relax, focus and make this New Year the one where you truly start making decisions that are better for the environment. One of the most important legacies we are leaving our children is how we take care of the planet, and this is your chance to do something good for you, them and the planet.

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