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Do you feel it? There’s that tingle in the air. The irresistible pull toward the finish line – to put a bookend on 2021 and race into the possibilities that are 2022.
Fresh beginnings give us the chance to reflect, reset, and tackle the challenges of the previous year.
And it’s helpful to look back on both our accomplishments and our shortcomings of the past year. Maybe you finally ran a triathlon, but your ‘meal planning’ routine turned into ramen three nights a week. Or you successfully Marie Kondo-ed your closet but now your garage is so packed you park your car in the driveway.
It’s important to both celebrate our accomplishments and accept and acknowledge where we’ve fallen short.
We all need to make eco-friendly changes to our lifestyle in 2022 if we want to do right by our planet.
If you’re reading this, you’ve already proven you’re up for the challenge. So let’s dive right in!
You can #reduce just about everything in your life. But we want to focus on those things that get the most bang for the buck. Or maybe... the least carbon for your comfort? Oof, sorry, that’s a bad one. Moving on...
As someone interested in sustainability, you’re probably already using a reusable water bottle. But how often have you forgotten those tote bags when you run to the store?
Pro-tip: Keep things like tote bags, water bottles, metal straws, and an extra thermos in your car. That way when you’re driving past Starbucks and the PSL craving strikes, you’re ready to go with your reusable cup!
Take a look at your habits and see where your highest single-use items are, then consider if there are reusable alternatives. There are now so many options for items like snack bags (rather than Ziplocs) and non-stick baking mats (to replace wax paper) – even razors can be resharpened and reused rather than disposable.
While we want to recycle as much as possible, it takes third place in the order of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for a reason. Reducing and reusing are much more sustainable than recycling.
But while recycling is a last resort, it is still very necessary and much better than the landfill.
Where most of us can make big improvements is how we recycle.
Check with your town or city for a recycling guide and follow the rules they lay out there. This includes instructions to clean food containers and leave out soiled paper or cardboard. If these contaminants make it into the system, they can actually spoil a whole batch of recycling!
But there’s also many items we don’t think of as recyclable that actually are – you just can’t put them in your town recycling bin. Items like old phones, broken speakers, and vacuums… batteries, light bulbs, and used up pens can all be recycled through specialized programs.
Your sustainable New Year’s resolution for 2022 could be to pause before throwing something away and Google if there is a recycling program for it.
If you’ve ever been on Etsy, you know upcycling is a growing trend. “Upcycling” basically just means giving new life to an object that would otherwise be trash. This is done by finding a new purpose for it, often using some crafty makeover techniques.
Turns out you can turn an old dish drying rack into a mail organizer. Broken cabinet knobs make decorative coat hooks! And a chipped bowl or coffee cup could become a candle or plant pot.
One simple way to get in the upcycling spirit is to repurpose food jars as storage containers. (Think: for nuts and bolts, rice and seeds, or save them for your soup leftovers and homemade ice tea.)
Though upcycling can seem daunting for those of us who are less creative, try throwing a crafting party and see what innovative ideas your friends come up with!
These days it’s actually become easier to replace broken items (hello two-day shipping!) than repair them. This is unfortunate because a lot of resources go into making products, and if all yours needs is one new piece, you can save a lot of carbon emissions with a repair.
Common items that can be repaired are shoe soles or inserts, small engines like lawn mowers and weed whackers, jewelry chains and clasps, torn clothes, rusted furniture, dull knives, and window/door screens with small holes in them. These items can either be repaired by a professional or patched up with some guidance from a good ol' YouTube video.
#RepairDon’tReplace to go green in 2022.
Real talk: it’s OK if you don’t want to give up bacon! Remember, it’s all about progress, not perfection, yeah?
But just reducing your meat consumption can do a lot for the health of the planet. Livestock for meat and dairy products emit about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.2
If you’re craving meat and the tofu won’t cut it, go for chicken over beef. Beef is by far the highest contributor from the meat industry.
A great environmental resolution for 2022? Join the #MeatlessMondays movement and try being vegetarian for just one day a week.
On that one day of going meat-free, you’ll save eight pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.3 For the whole year, Meatless Mondays will cut your carbon footprint by 416 pounds!
Composting keeps food scraps out of landfills (so that space can be used for non-biodegradable materials) and reduces the amount of emissions from your food waste.
Check out this guide from the EPA to set up your own backyard compost!
Even if you’re not ready to do the deed yourself, search in your local area and you’ll likely find a community compost. They’ll often take your food scraps for free, or else charge a small fee for pick up services.
None of us are perfect at food waste, but you can be greener in 2022 by composting the scraps.
If you’re a beginner, or just lack a green thumb, the easiest foods to start with are:
If you’re looking for a fun, rewarding environmental resolution for 2022, try growing your own food. If you don’t have a lot of time or aren’t ready for a major project, start with just a few potted plants on the porch or balcony this year. You’ll be amazed at how easy it can be!
Plastic. It is often used for a single purpose before being tossed in the trash, and yet it takes between 50 to 500 years to decompose.4
As far as environmental resolutions for 2022 go, reducing your plastic use is a highly effective one. With a rise in public awareness and interest, more and more companies are offering plastic-free alternatives to traditionally plastic products.
Items such as deodorant, toothpaste, and floss now come in reusable or compostable dispensers. You can purchase shampoo, conditioner, and even lotion in bar form, eliminating the need for a plastic bottle. Kitchen sponges can be replaced with a natural loofah, and laundry detergent is available as biodegradable sheets.
Zero-waste is the dream. It’s the pinnacle achievement for anyone trying to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle.
If you’re unfamiliar, zero-waste just means living your life in a way that creates no landfill trash. Everything you use can either be reused, recycled, or composted.
The movement went viral with profiles and videos of people fitting an entire year’s worth of waste into a single mason jar.
Some of the best ways to work towards zero waste are:
Zero-waste is the ultimate promise you can make to the planet this year, and means you’ve truly become a superhero of sustainability.
At the end of the day, fitting all our waste into a jar might be unattainable for most of us. And if your goal is too unrealistic, it often leads to frustration instead of inspiration.
So think about which of these sustainable new year’s resolutions seems the most doable for you.
And don’t try to tackle it all at once! Making a hundred changes to your routine can be both daunting and overwhelming.
Each time before you throw something out this year, check if there’s a recycling program.
Each time you use up a product, take a few moments to look for a plastic-free alternative.
Run out of lotion? Try the solid bar. Time to throw out the sponge? Maybe buy a natural loofah instead. Run out of toilet paper? Swap your go-to TP to Cloud Paper, a tree-free toilet paper with carbon neutral shipping!
Whether you’re going for small incremental changes, or you’re the type to go all-in, every eco-friendly choice helps build a greener future.
Thank you for making sustainable new year’s resolutions in 2022!