By Moninca Johnson
As the New Year rolls around, we take stock of the past year and set resolutions and goals to make the upcoming year better and more productive.
We tend to focus on ourselves and those close to us, but this year, be sure to take some time to focus on your environmental impact as well.
Here are 14 simple actions we can all take right now towards living more sustainably. You don’t have to do them all. Pick a few, the ones that speak to you, and just start!
- Recyle: This seems obvious, but how many of us really know what our city does and doesn’t accept for recycling? At the recycling center, when items that cannot be recycled make it in with items that can be, everything will be tossed into the trash, so your effort to recycle has gone to waste. Check out your city’s website for a list of items that cannot be recycled.
- Double check before trashing it: Items such as batteries, computers, and other electronics can be recycled. Chain-stores like, Batteries Plus, accept batteries to recycle. Look for a Household Hazardous Waste Facility in your area to recycle electronics.
- Cut down on paper: Send Birthday/Holiday cards electronically. Use apps on your phone for To Do lists, grocery lists, etc. Print double-sided and if you do print one-sided, use the backs of the paper as scrap paper. In the kitchen, use a reusable, washcloth instead of paper towels.
- Be energy efficient: Use energy efficient light bulbs, such as CFLs and LEDs. When you’re not in a room, turn the lights off.
- Use less plastic: Use reusable containers instead of Ziploc bags. If you do use Ziploc bags, wash them out and re-use them several times before you throw them away. Use reusable bags for groceries instead of plastic bags and if you do use plastic bags, re-use them for things such as trash bags.
- Buy used: If you need something, look for it used and if you don’t need something anymore instead of trashing it, resell it or donate it. Websites like Craigslist and EBay are great for this.
- Wash smart: Hand wash clothes when you can. If you machine wash, use cold water instead of hot and let them air-dry instead of using a dryer.
- Buy Local: Support local farmers by shopping at farm stands and farmers markets. Often farmers markets are close to grocery stores, so plan your shopping trip to both on the same day.
- Buy in bulk: Re-use the plastic bags that you use to buy bulk or take your own container. Ask them to weigh the container before hand so they can take it out of the cost of food.
- Grow food: Even if it’s a windowsill of herbs. If you don’t have space to grow your own food, start a garden with a friend who does have room or join a community garden. Be sure to save your seeds and swap seeds with friends.
- Compost: Use a sealable container you have around to store food scraps and place in your refrigerator or freezer to cut out smell. Many farms and farmers markets accept compost and even places like Whole Foods has compost where you can drop yours off at.
- Make your own: Make your own cleaners, your own beauty products, and your own food basics and condiments. There are a ton of recipes online and it saves packaging, money, and homemade products always have less junk in them!
- Carry baggage: Carry utensils (this place has an amazing all-in-one that I adore!) in your car or purse so you don’t have to use disposable ones. Use a reusable water bottle. Many brands are selling ones with charcoal filters; so filling up anywhere guarantees you good tasting water. Use a reusable coffee mug as well.
- Unplug: Leaving appliances and electronics plugged, even when they are turned off can still use energy. Consider unplugging things you’re not using such as your computer, your cell phone charger, your TV.