15 Easy Environmental New Year's Resolutions

by Lani Seelinger
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Making resolutions at the beginning of every year is no easy task. How can you find something that will do some good, but that will also be easy enough that you'll actually do it? These environmental New Year's resolutions for 2017 are great for exactly those two reasons — they'll make a big difference to the planet, and they're all ridiculously easy.

Maybe some of these are already part of your daily habits, but at least a few of them are bound to be new to you. They don't all seem like big things, and some of them really aren't — but when they add up, and when lots of people do them, that's when the effect gets bigger and bigger. So don't be fooled by how easy or how small each of these things seems; every little thing that you can do to save the planet really is worth it. Pick one and really accomplish it, or try them all — either one of those or anything in between is great. And if you fall off the wagon and revert to old habits, don't worry about it! You can start again at any time of year.

Now, without further ado, here are 13 environmental New Year's Resolutions for you to start your year off by focusing on the Earth.

Stop Eating Beef

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Consider putting down the burger, because unfortunately eating beef is very harmful to the environment. If you're a big red meat eater and cutting yourself off entirely would be too difficult, maybe start with just going just one day every week without it. Even just replacing your beef with pork or chicken would significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Carry Reusable Items With You

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Try to count up how many plastic drink bottles, paper coffee cups, and plastic shopping bags you've gotten and thrown away in the past month. Tough, right? You can stop using all of those just by getting into the habit of carrying around reusable water bottles, travel coffee mugs, and cloth tote bags. Even better, many coffee shops and stores will often give you small discounts for providing your own cups and bags.

Change Up Your Laundry Habits


Take a cue from the Europeans and stop using your dryer every time you wash your clothes. Yes, it takes a bit more planning ahead so you can give the clothes time to dry, but this one is really worth it — dryers are the third biggest energy consumer in the home, behind refrigerators and air conditioners. Another thing you can do is get cold water detergent, so then you can stop using the energy required to heat the water for every load of laundry.

Think About Your Transportation Habits


Before you hop in the car, try to take a bike or use public transport at least once a week. Planes generally use less fuel over very long distances, but really consider whether you could take a bus or train over shorter distances. If you really must drive, try lumping all of your errands into one. There are lots of ways you can lower your carbon footprint in terms of transit, you just have to plan it out a little.

Buy Local


This one's easy — buy local food and products whenever possible. Otherwise, all of your stuff is getting shipped to you from places far and wide, and you can save the shipping energy by buying locally grown or produced items.

Use Less Water

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There are myriad ways to approach this one, so just pick your favorite(s) and then run with them. Try not flushing unless it's really necessary, or set a timer to keep your showers shorter, or at the very least make sure you turn the faucet off whenever you possibly can. Water might seem like an endless resource, but actually very little of it is available for human use, so you need to be careful with it.

Buy Used

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Not only will buying used items help your bottom line, it'll also help the planet. When you need a new appliance or item of clothing, think about whether or not you could get it somewhere like Craigslist or a thrift store before running out to the mall right away.

Use ENERGY STAR Appliances


When you need a new lightbulb or household appliance, see if it's ENERGY STAR approved. If it is, that means you'll be conserving as much energy as possible just by using that item above a different one.

Turn Off And Unplug

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This may seem obvious, but everyone occasionally makes the mistake of leaving on a light that they don't need. One thing that you may not know, though, is that appliances and chargers always drain just a little bit of power from the wall, even when they're not turned on and your phone isn't actually plugged in. If you're in the habit of leaving your laptop plugged in when you're not using it — which I definitely am — then you're wasting some energy that you don't need to waste.

Think About Your Air Conditioner Use


In some places, not using AC at all would be disastrous (I would know, I'm from North Carolina). However, thinking about ways to make your air conditioning more efficient is a very different thing than melting in the summer heat. Could you wait a few days to turn on your AC in the spring, or turn it off a few days early in the fall?

Ditch The Treadmill And The Stationary Bike


You don't need me to tell you that there's a way you can get the same exercise that you'd get on the treadmill or the exercise bike without using any electricity at all (except maybe your iPod). If you're in the habit of going to the gym, try switching things up with a run or an outdoor bike ride once a week — you can even plan it to end at the gym, so you'll still get your stretching and your weightlifting in.

Don't Be Lazy About Recycling

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If it's at all possible to recycle any given item — cans, bottles, printer cartridges, phones, old clothes, cardboard — then really make an effort to do it. Figure out your city's recycling policies, and do everything you can to make sure that the stuff you get rid of ends up somewhere besides a landfill.

Join The Local Library


This one truly hurts me, but it uses fewer resources to get a book from the library than to buy a brand new book — no matter how good it smells. Sure, sometimes you just have to buy the book, but if you feel like it won't break your heart not to own it, then head down to your local library instead.

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No matter what you choose to do, you'll be doing something good. Don't worry if they seem like too much all put together — this is one instance where every little thing you can do really does help.