With the new year looming, resolutions are on everybody’s mind. That’s because the new year is all about new beginnings. Whether that means changing your diet, incorporating more exercise or focusing on continuing education, 2019 can be an amazing year of growth and discovery. While you formulate your list of new year’s resolutions, be sure to include a few goals focused on sustainability. We all share one planet, which means each person needs to do their part to make it last. Making small changes leads to huge results, so even if you start small, resolve to start. Here are a few eco-friendly resolutions to focus on while you enter 2019.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

compost bin

Start a compost bin

Composting creates a full-cycle process for making the most out of your food and paper products. Begin with a design for your compost bin. Consider the space you have available along with the layout of your yard. Composters work best in full sun since they yield the best results at high temperatures. It will take longer to break down compost on the shady north side of your home, but it will break down eventually nonetheless.

Related: Austin passes law banning restaurants from throwing out food waste

Compost bins can be purchased online or at your local garden center or home improvement store. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Resin or plastic compost bins will last longer, but are also petroleum-based, making them an enemy of the environment. Wood composters are much more eco-friendly although they will eventually show the wear of weather exposure. Better yet, don’t use a compost bin at all, but just create a loose pile.

Regardless of the type you choose, make sure you can rotate the contents occasionally and that the compost receives water and heat.

Fill your compost throughout the year with equal parts green (such as lawn clippings), brown (such as brown paper bags or small twigs) and organic food scraps. Not only does this reduce your food waste, but creates nutrient-rich soil for use in your indoor or outdoor garden.

reusable grocery bag with fruit inside

Vow to shop with reusable bags

As cities and even entire states begin to ban the use of plastic bags, it’s the perfect time to get into the habit of bringing your own bags when you go shopping. Reusable shopping bags are a great way to reduce both plastic and paper bag consumption. Choose some favorites and keep them in your car. Just remember to return them to the car after bringing the groceries inside so you have them next time around. You can take your reusable bag resolution one step further with the purchase of washable produce bags to use as well.

house with rain water barrel on the side

Install rain barrels

Rain barrels are easy to install and use. Surf the internet or head to the local home improvement store for a rain diverter. This device is installed in the downspout of your gutter system and diverts a portion of the water into the nearby rain barrels. If you receive even moderate rain in your area, it’s easy to accumulate 50, 100, or more gallons of water during the wet months. Use that water during the summer for gardens, lawns, or animals and save on your water bill.

shower head with water

Swap out shower and faucet heads

The easiest resolutions are the tasks that you perform once and they provide ongoing benefits. With this in mind, take the time to install low-flow faucet and shower heads. By using air to provide a strong pressure, newer water-restricting heads make it so you barely miss the extra water while benefiting your budget and the environment.

salad plate on outside wooden table

Eliminate meat one day each week

It’s so well researched and documented these days that no one can argue the drastic effects that raising cattle and other livestock has on the environment. Raising meat is resource consumptive, in the amount of both water and land required. The good news is that even if you’re a blood-thirsty carnivore, small sacrifices can make a big difference. Eliminate meat from your diet one day each week. You might find it easier than you think. If you do, increase to two times per week. Each meatless meal means good things for nature.

hand holding refillable stainless steel water container

Avoid plastic

Plastic is bad for the environment on every level. It requires huge amount of petroleum to produce and never breaks down, adding to the massive waste issues the world currently faces. Set a goal to do your part to avoid plastic as much as possible. It’s no easy task since it is everywhere we turn, but start by noticing the packaging on your frequent purchases. Buy bulk and bring your own containers. Purchase individual fruit instead of the pre-bagged variety. Bring your own produce and shopping bags to the store. Buy food in glass jars instead of plastic. Take your own cup to the coffee shop. Take your refillable water bottle everywhere. Buy tampons with cardboard applicators or move to a menstrual cup or washable pad. Ask the waitress to hold the plastic straw and bring your own reusable straw if you want one. Shop with companies that use environmentally-conscious packaging.

Related: Over 200 nations commit to ending ocean plastic waste

clothing hung on racks

Avoid fast fashion

Fast fashion is killing the planet. Defined by quick-passing trends, the cheap clothing reels consumers in. But the resources required to produce and dispose of all that clothing earns the industry the title of the world’s number one pollutant. Instead of subscribing to this season’s best that is forgotten a few months down the road, invest in a capsule wardrobe that incorporates interchangeable pieces that suit all your dress and casual wear needs.

vegetable stand filled with fresh local produce

Buy seasonal and local

Your purchasing decisions hold all the power. Use them wisely and make this year’s resolution to buy local as much as possible. Not only does this provide you with the best farm-fresh foods, but it reduces the transport emissions from those manufactured across the ocean to those made just down the road. Gift give the work of local artisans. Attend the farmer’s market. Buy honey, soap and jewelry from local vendors. Think about the journey each product makes and select those with the shortest travel time.

Baby steps in your efforts make a huge difference, so remember that you don’t have to go zero waste all at once or give up your car in lieu of a bike. Although it’s great if you want to do those things, start by adding some achievable and sustainable goals to your 2019 resolutions and vow to practice them all year long.

Via My Green Closet

Images via 955169, Mike Kenneally, Shutterstock