5 Resolutions for a More Eco-Friendly Year
By Alyssa Cody, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator
The transition on the calendar to a new year allows us to reflect on our lives and mindfully make changes to better ourselves for the coming year. During this time, messages pushing diet trends or exercise routines fill the landscape of new year's resolutions. However, the new year also serves as a time to take stock of our environmental habits and shift toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
The planet can't wait much longer for us to make necessary environmental behavior changes, so we put together this list of resolutions for you to consider adapting to in 2018. Start with one, a combination of a few, or take on the whole list.
Ditch Plastics - Disposable plastics bombard our lives at every corner. The coffee in the morning, the water throughout the day, the straw in your cup at dinner, the Styrofoam container, plastic bag, and utensils that comes with your take out food -- the list goes on. Invest in a few reusable items at the beginning of this year and make them your best companion wherever you go. A reusable coffee cup, water bottle, food container, shopping bag, and resealable and washable zipper baggie is most likely all you'll need to eliminate plastic in your day-to-day.
*Did you know the average American uses approximately 584 plastic straws a year? Simply opt out of straws when you go out to eat this year (or purchase a reusable straw to bring with you!) to make a big difference.
Eat More Plants - It's no secret that the meat and dairy industry causes its fair share of water, air, and soil pollution. By cutting back on your consumption of animal products, you automatically help the environment (and your health!). You don't have to go fully vegan or vegetarian (although that's stellar if you do); simply reducing the amount of dairy and meat in your diet makes a big difference in your carbon footprint. Starting small with a meatless Monday every week provides an easy transition to a more conscious diet.
Growing your own food is even better. Don't have the space or expertise to do so? Community gardens are a great opportunity to learn from local gardeners and start small. Check out community gardens in Omaha near you.
While you're out shopping for more plants, be sure to bring your reusable bag. Always keep a stockpile of reusable bags where you can easily see them, by your front door or in your car, and write it at the top of your shopping list to help you remember.
Recycle at Home & Work - This may seem like the obvious one, but there are still a fair number of people have not hopped on the recycling train. Most people that don't recycle, really want to, they just don't know how to get started or what to recycle. If you've been putting it off, make 2018 the year you finally go the extra effort to ensure you're a responsible steward of your waste. Check out our Omaha Recycles Guide for everything you need to know about recycling in Omaha.
Already recycle at home? This year, make a commitment to divert even the more difficult-to-recycle items, like electronics or old cleaning products. You can also find resources for that in our Omaha Recycles Guide. And remember, if you can't find your answers there, reach out to us and we're happy to point you in the right direction.
Serve the Environment - While most environmental behaviors are very personal, you can also make an impact by serving the environment in your community. Here are a few ways to get involved:
- Join a Keep Omaha Beautiful community cleanup, or organize your own through your work or organization. We provide all of the supplies and guidance you need to keep your community free of litter. (You can do this by picking up litter along your daily path, too!)
- Stormwater pollution is the number one cause of water pollution in Nebraska, and we offer opportunities for volunteers to help prevent that. Check out this video to find out how.
- Education is the key to changing environmental behaviors. At KOB, we offer free and engaging environmental education presentations and activities to help our community learn how to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Spread the environmental message by inviting us into your classroom, organizational meeting, or workplace!
Be a Mindful Consumer - Voting in elections is very important, but you have the opportunity to vote everyday with how you spend your money. Check out these tips to ensure environmentally responsible consumerism:
- Shop locally to cut down on pollution caused by the mass production and distribution of products.
- Buy products made with recycled packaging. When demand goes up for products made from recyclables, the recycling industry becomes more successful.
- Ensure you support brands with ethical environmental practices. Take advantage of resources like the app Buycott , which allows you to simply scan a product to ensure it aligns with your values before you purchase.
- Buy secondhand. The most important of the three R's is to reduce. By buying from secondhand stores, you reduce demand to create new products when perfectly usable ones are already in the market.
- Donate to organizations that support the environment.
Write down your eco-friendly new year's resolutions in a place you see weekly, along with your motivation to preserve the planet, in order to help you stay on track throughout the year. All changes, big and small, count when it comes to environmental sustainability. It takes the small but mindful actions of individuals in our community to make a collective difference.