Thinking of going green (or greener) in the New Year, but not down with resolutions that take too much time, money or work? Then we've got you covered with six awesome green New Year's resolutions that aren't just good for the environment, but that are simple to implement, not at all stressful, low-cost, and in most cases fun to boot. All of the little steps below create a positive impact without taking up too much time or freaking you out with over the top lifestyle overhauls. In fact, most are so easy your kids can join in on implementing them. You're just a few steps away from going greener in 2016, so what are you waiting for? Choose one or more of the easy resolutions below and start making a difference now!
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Switch to Cloth Napkins
If your family eats three meals a day plus snacks, you’re using about 4,380 paper napkins per year on average. Yikes! Paper napkins aren’t great for the environment but cloth napkins save trees from being cut down, conserve energy and water and limit pollution created by paper factories. Switching to cloth napkins isn’t all that traumatic either. Cloth napkins are easy, inexpensive and come in an array of cool designs and colors. Plus, they feel WAY better when using them during a meal. After a week, you’ll be wondering why you used paper napkins for so darn long. To complete this goal, you’ll need napkins of course. The typical family of four should buy enough napkins for all meals and snacks for a week, or about 25-35 cloth napkins, minimum. This amount of cloth napkins means you always have cloth napkins on hand (when they get dirty, just toss them in with regular laundry about twice a week). If you don’t do much laundry each week, then one, we want to know your secret and two, buy more napkins. Cloth napkins last years so the initial cost is really offset by that fact, plus, once they totally die you can use them to clean with.
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Go Organic with the Dirty Dozen
It’s hard for some families to go 100% organic due to costs, knowledge and availability of organic food and other products. However, one easy green organic New Year’s resolution to try is to buy all the Dirty Dozen produce items in organic form. The Dirty Dozen list highlights produce with the best and worst pesticide levels, making it a snap for you to figure out which produce is more important to buy in organic form. Even if these are the only organic food items your family purchases, you’ll still be limiting some major chemicals, pesticides and health concerns, and it takes very little budgeting to manage just 12 organic items on your grocery list. The 12 produce items you should try to buy in organic form include:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Imported nectarines
- Sweet bell peppers
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Institute Family Game Night
Family game night is not only an excellent New Year’s goal that focuses on togetherness, but a great way to work on other green goals at the same time, such as less media time, cutting back on electricity and de-stressing. Plan to institute one family game night a week, though you may have so much fun, you’ll be excited to have two or more game nights a week. Grab some eco-minded board games, some healthy snacks and get ready for a great time. A good additional goal is to invite other families over for family game night, which helps yet another family to unplug and relax, plus allows you to play cool team games.
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Boycott 3 Disposable Over-packaged Items Forever
Almost everyone buys way too many disposable items. It can be hard to cut back because disposable items and over-packaged items are everywhere. From disposable razors to juice boxes to single serve medicine tins to pre-wrapped granola bars and so much more, disposables and packaging excess are everywhere you look. It’s impossible (for most of us) to ditch every disposable item we use, but even if you cut out a few disposable, over-packaged items, you can reduce trash and manufacturing of new material pollution, water use and energy use. This year, take a look through your home and see which disposable items you’re using. Then pick at least three of these items and go greener with your buying choices. Below are some excellent disposables to ditch, but I’m sure you can come up with plenty of other ideas too.
- Plastic snack baggies: Buy reusable snack baggies or reusable food wraps.
- Juice boxes: Use reusable drinking containers instead.
- Plastic hand soap dispensers: Buy a reusable, refillable soap dispenser instead and fill it with bulk hand soap.
- Disposable coffee filters: Buy a reusable coffee filter.
- Paper muffin cups: Use some silicone reusable muffin cups instead.
- Disposable toothbrushes: Use recycled content toothbrushes or toothbrushes with reusable heads.
- Printer ink cartridges: Use refillable printer ink.
- Disposable batteries: Use rechargeable batteries instead.
- Baby wipes: Make your own homemade baby wipes.
- New books: Check out library books instead.
- Disposable plastic pens: Use refillable pens.
- Packaged granola bars: Make homemade granola bars.
- Plastic razors: Buying just 2 electric razors or 2 reusable safety razors will replace up to 104 disposable plastic razors per year – if you must go with plastic, use razors that can be recycled.
Photo by CDC/ Dawn Arlotta
Buy Eco-friendly Soaps
Maybe you’re not quite ready to go 100% eco-friendly with your cleaning and body care routines, but one step that’s easy to accomplish is buying greener household soap. There are a few types of soap that are easy to switch over without costing you too much cash, time or stress, including laundry soap, hand washing soap and dish soap. When shopping for eco-friendly soaps, avoid fake colors and fragrances, bleach, optical brighteners and soaps containing too many chemicals you can’t pronounce. Look for soaps that contain natural surfactants and natural scents or zero scents. Make sure soaps are phosphate-free, biodegradable and Leaping Bunny Certified (not tested on animals) plus packaged in recycled content and recyclable packaging. Some good eco-soap options include:
- Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
- Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid
- Kiss My Face Foaming Hand Soaps
- Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Pacs, Free & Clear
- Dr. Bronner’s – use in the shower, to clean with, to wash your hands with and pretty much everything else you can think of.
Photo by Jennifer Chait
Ban Store-bought Popsicles
Popsicles may seem like a moot issue right now, while it’s chilly outside, but this is a small, yet fun and easy green New Year’s resolution you can plan for now, that can make a big impact. Consider all the cardboard boxes, sticks, plastic wrappers and other trash created by store-bought pops. One family buying popsicles isn’t a huge deal, but overall Americans buy about two billion Popsicle brand ice pops annually, not to mention all the other brands, so this is trash that really piles up. On top of that, store-bought popsicles are packed with fake food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial, non-organic flavors and ingredients. Luckily, switching over to homemade ice pops this summer is a simple, green and crazy fun resolution. All you’ll need is one or two sets of BPA-free popsicle molds, a blender plus whatever healthy organic popsicle ingredients you choose and you’re good to go. If you need some tips, check out the following posts and popsicle recipe ideas:
- How to Make Healthy Homemade Popsicles With Kids
- 5 Popsicle Recipe Books We Love
- Tips & Tricks for Perfectly Delicious and Eco-friendly Homemade Popsicles
- 30 Homemade Popsicle Recipes to Cool You Off This Summer
- Stainless Steel Popsicle Molds
- Brighten Up Breakfast with Organic Vegan Fruity Yogurt & Granola Popsicles
- Make Seasonal Strawberry Popsicles
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