What New Year’s resolutions did you keep from last year? Do you remember what they were?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m now resolving to keep my resolutions.
With a population exceeding 7 billion, we understand the importance of making a positive impact on our environment.
What can you actually do to go green in 2014?
Below are 5 easy things you can do to live more sustainably this year.
1. Make your home energy efficient
Resolutions are often difficult to track because they’re based on intangible adjectives like green, sustainable, or eco-friendly.
Thankfully, your electric bill provides a quantitative report on your energy consumption (kWh), allowing you to track your progress every month.
Want to shave off 20% by the time 2015 rolls around? … 30%?
Set numeric energy goals monthly (or annually) and stick to your resolution. You’ll save money in the process.
How to make your goal long-term and sustainable:
- Change your incandescent lighting to LED Lighting
- Use a programmable thermostat
- Figure out which products are costing you the most on your bill with a Kill A Watt energy meter
- Request a free quote for a solar system
2. Reduce Waste: PREcycling > recycling
Don’t get me wrong- recycling is important, but it’s often a reaction to the problem.
For example, there would be no need to recycle those plastic water bottles if you didn’t use purchase them in the first place.
Reduce, reuse, recycle is the new motto to live by. Precycling is a proactive solution that reduces or prevents recycling.
This rule extends pretty far- avoid consuming products that you don’t need. Of course, this is easier said than done. Keep in mind that most of your carbon footprint is produced indirectly, meaning it’s embedded in the products you use daily.
Some easy ways to start precycling:
- Use refillable water containers & a tap water filtering solution
- Buy in bulk & avoid single-serving packaging whenever possible
- Bring your reusable shopping bags to the store
- Use electronics for reading & opt for online billing
- Email > SnailMail
- Clean with cotton cloths instead of paper towels
3. Reuse & Repurpose
You know that feeling when find a good deal on something? It’s like that, but better. Particularly if it’s free.
Reusing or repurposing old items can be exciting, especially if you transform an everyday item into something it wasn’t originally intended for. Coffee mugs become flower pots, ash-trays hold your guitar picks, toilet paper rolls turn into wire storage devices, and cigar boxes become jewelry boxes.
Make use of Craigslist (particularly the free section), garage sales, and thrift stores.
How to start repurposing and reusing:
- Buy second-hand clothing
- Use old t-shirts as cleaning rags
- Collect all food waste and other organic compost material for fertilizer
4. Eat Sustainably
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, approximately 1 in 8 people on this planet are undernourished. Meanwhile, throwing away 40% of our food has become common-place.
That does not have to be part your routine. Start by keeping a white board in the kitchen to keep track of the food you have in the refrigerator.
One person’s trash … is another person’s dinner?
Theoretically, you could take it a step further and source food that would otherwise be thrown out.
Get your friends together and make a group resolution to have a “freegan” cookout once a month. Freeganism is the practice of reclaiming food and resources that ends up being thrown away.
If this theoretical food-sourcing happens to include dumpster-diving, I recommend leaving out animal products to mitigate the risk of food poisoning.
Livestock is also a major contributor to water and land degradation. Cattle-rearing alone produces more greenhouse gas emissions than automobiles. Moreover, the ratio of protein (from grains) going into a cow vs. the total output is 54:1. 
Give yourself 5 minutes to research modern factory farming.
How to eat more sustainably:
- Finish ALL groceries before they go bad
- Save all leftovers – even finishing a friend’s plate
- Grow your own all veggies/fruits
- Buy food at the local farmers market
- Eat a plant-based diet
5. Drive less.
Needless to say, driving less will reduce your carbon footprint.
Alternatives to driving a car:
- Resolve to bike for trips less than 2 miles
- Use public transportation
Now imagine its December 2015. What resolutions will you be proud to have kept?