Eco-friendly resolutions, goals, ambitions, or intentions for the year ahead? Whatever you call them, there’s no denying January has us thinking about areas in our life we want to improve. The fresh start of a new calendar year always feels like the natural time to implement this.
Of course, we’d love it if your resolution this year was to start your journey towards renewable energy! However, we also understand that this isn’t feasible for everyone (but we’ll get there, after all, we all share an equal right to the sun’s power).
Don’t let a solar power barrier stop you from living the most sustainable, eco-friendly year that you can though! We’re encouraging you to make little changes that will make a big difference to the environment. And the beauty of sustainable choices is that they can be incorporated into other resolutions. Want to eat healthier – try organic produce or go meat-free. Want to become fitter – walk instead of drive wherever possible!
To help you out we will be sharing a selection of environmentally friendly new year’s resolutions. You can try these for yourself, whether you have already implemented sustainable practices or you’re planning to turn over a new leaf in 2024.
Before we start…
Making New Year’s resolutions and breaking them, often seem to be part of the same package deal. So here are some extra tips to help you keep your resolutions this year.
- Write it down! Studies have shown that people are far more likely to make positive changes if they write down their goals.
- Seek support from others. Ask your friends and family to cheer you on. Let them know your goals and what you would like to accomplish.
- Create a reward system for yourself. Set short-term goals and reward yourself when you meet them.
Have compassion for yourself. No one is perfect. Instead of beating yourself up, take a deep breath and keep trying. After all, there are 12 months in the year to give it a go.
1. Swap out Single-use
We’re sure you’re all aware of the benefit of bringing a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, and carrier bag with you (though a reminder is useful as some of these habits were ditched in the wake of the covid pandemic). But what about beeswax food wraps instead of cling-film, bamboo cutlery instead of plastic utensils, and reusable produce bags instead of plastic veg bags? If you’re ready to go one step further you can also switch up plastic washing-up sponges, nappies and sanitary products, or face wipes for washable cloth substitutes. Chances are if you can think of a single-use item, there’s going to be a more sustainable alternative!
2. Revaluate your Recycling Habits
Recycling can sometimes feel a bit like a minefield outside of cardboard boxes and coke cans. This is especially felt when it comes to the different types of plastics and the stance on items such as tin foil and crisp packets. Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer. This varies depending on local council regions so always worth checking direct.
Some commonly missed items that can be recycled include shampoo and laundry detergent bottles as well as aerosol cans. Alternatively, some misplaced items in the recycling bins (known as wishcyling) include textiles, electricals, and pots and pans. These items can be recycled but they will need to be taken to your local Household Waste and Recycling Centre.
You don’t need to scrub or sterilise your recycling. They do need to be free from food residue though so they don’t contaminate other materials. Rinse plastic tubs clean of leftovers and leave them to dry before recycling. There’s often a question mark over pizza boxes because of this reason. According to Recycle Now you can recycle them as long as they are empty (marking and staining are okay, visible quantities of food not so much).
Squash plastic bottles before you put them out for recycling with the lids screwed on. The lids are too small to make it through most recycling sorting machines otherwise. Collect tin foil scraps (if they can be recycled in your region) in an empty tin can and squash the tin shut when full.
Plastic film, however, cannot be recycled and if it ends up at recycling facilities it can get tangled in the machinery. Always remove the plastic film from bottles, plastic pots, tubs and trays etc before recycling.
Remember to always check the facilities at your local supermarket as well! Some supermarkets offer collection points inside for bread bags, crisp packets, batteries etc.
And don’t forget if you have items you no longer use that are still of good quality (electronics, furniture, books, clothes and toys for example) that these can be donated instead.
3. Ditch the Car
Studies show that swapping the car for walking or cycling even just one day a week makes a significant impact on personal carbon emissions. Experts agree that cars contribute to 26% of all manmade greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The good news is that there is plenty that we can do to reduce our dependence on cars and our carbon footprint. While walking and cycling are the best way to help the environment (with the added bonus of the benefits to mental health from getting some fresh air and exercise) let’s not forget the benefit of taking public transport or carpooling if walking is not possible.
An additional point to add that comes with an element of sacrifice includes choosing not to travel by plane when you can. Sure certain locations are ruled out and it does mean extra holiday days are required to travel. However, taking a train is a fun and exciting way to see parts of the country that you would otherwise miss.
4. Eat Less Meat
Eating less meat is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint. We understand this is a big ask for some so we’re not asking you to go whole hog…if you’ll pardon the pun!
Start by introducing meat-free Mondays, eat more fresh fruits and veggies (bonus points if organic), or adopt a flexitarian diet. There are lots of great meat and dairy substitute items readily available on the market now. This makes it easier than ever before to be a herbivore. On the occasions that you do eat fish or meat try and make sure it comes from organic and sustainable farms and ideally source as locally as possible.
5. On that note…Shop Small, Local and Sustainable
As convenient as it is, the environment takes a real hit from online shopping. It requires a lot of resources for a package to get from the warehouse to your front door. It’s becoming a luxury we rely on too heavily.
Local shops often source their goods locally, helping to reduce their carbon footprint. When shopping locally you may find you’re more likely to walk or cycle to get there. In doing so, you’re doing your bit to reduce air pollution and traffic. Shopping locally and practising sustainable shopping also keeps money in the local economy, which is always a good thing!
In addition, to shopping locally consider buying items second-hand. In doing so you’re giving new life to used items that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Check vintage and charity shops in your area, or online marketplaces like eBay and Depop before you buy new. You might just save yourself a pretty penny in the process too!
If you absolutely have to shop online try and save up a few orders worth. By merging your packages together you’ll reduce the number of trips required.
6. Start Composting
If your home has access to the great outdoors and you want to work on your organic waste management, consider composting from home. It can be a rewarding challenge to take on and it’s not as hard as you might think! Composting reduces greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. When you compost, you’re putting valuable nutrients back into the soil and creating nutrient-rich mulch for use in gardening. If you’re unable to compost in your garden, make sure to take advantage of the food waste bin if provided by your local council.
7. Grow Your Own
What better way to put all that lovely compost to use than with your own vegetable garden? Growing produce means no plastic packaging or pesticides, a reduced carbon footprint, and less food waste. It’s also fun, with proven benefits for your mental health. Gardening is associated with reduced stress and increased life satisfaction. You don’t have to be a seasoned gardener either – easier options like potatoes and rhubarb are great for beginners. If your patch is small try herbs in a window box or a blackberry hanging basket.
8. Switch on to Renewable Energy
If you’re ready to implement sustainable habits all year round, now could be the perfect time to invest in renewable energy! Switching to solar power in 2024 will provide a clean, renewable source of energy. Not only is this good for the environment, but it’s also cost-effective thanks to savings made on rising energy bills.
Make 2024 the year of Solar Power with a New Year’s resolution that actually pays off.
Living sustainably is all about making small changes and conscious choices. If everyone takes small steps at the beginning of the first month to improve their environmental impact, we can drive major change for the better. So, this new year, what will be your sustainable New Year’s resolutions?
Wishing you all good fortune for a happy (and green!) New Year.