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The start of a new year comes along with a lot of motivation and anticipation for change. New Year's resolutions are the epitome of this excitement as people plan all the ways they want to improve themselves. But this year, why not change it up a bit and make resolutions that benefit the planet as well as y urself? With the new year right around the corner, here are 7 eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions that are efficient, practical, and positive for our planet. 

1. Avoid single-use products

We’ve all heard this one before, but that’s because it's a really effective way to reduce your environmental impact. The United Nations Environment Program advocates that “prioritizing reusable products is…critical for environmental health.” By limiting single-use products you are avoiding unnecessary waste and strain on our planet's limited resources. The best part is that making these changes doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Instead of a plastic water bottle, opt for a reusable one; instead of plastic bags from the grocery store, pick out a cute tote bag for all your shopping trips (many stores even have discounts for bringing your own reusable cup or bag). There are reusable options for almost every single-use product out there–from beeswax wraps instead of saran wrap to reusable straws instead of plastic ones. 

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2. Limit water waste

Limiting the amount of water you use can range from taking shorter showers, to switching from a grass lawn to a grass-free alternative. You can also save water by doing fewer loads of laundry when possible or making sure to only run your dishwasher when it’s completely full. Even just being mindful of your faucet use is a great step towards limiting your water waste.

3. Air-dry your laundry

Water isn’t the only resource people tend to overuse during their daily routine, it’s also important to start paying attention to your electricity usage and seeing where you can cut back. One simple way to save energy is to air-dry your laundry if you can. Air-drying laundry is great for the environment not only because it saves energy but it also increases the lifespan of your clothes. By not exposing them to harsh heat that often causes fraying and pilling, you don’t need to discard them and buy new ones as frequently. 

4. Drive less

Driving less is a great way to reduce your carbon emissions. Whether that means utilizing public transport, biking, walking, or even carpooling, limiting the amount you drive when you can is an effective way for individuals to reduce their carbon emissions. Trying to incorporate walking and biking more in the new year is a great resolution not only because it’ll help the planet but there are also many benefits to both your physical and mental health from getting outside and moving your body.  

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5. Make an Eco-brick

Making an eco-brick is a simple way to conserve the plastic we are already consuming. To put it simply, an eco brick consists of PET plastic bottle that you then fill with clean used plastic. There are many benefits to making eco-bricks. By containing all of this plastic waste into one “brick” it helps reduce the number of microplastics created and also repurposes this already created plastic and gives it a chance to be turned into something new. To find out more about their benefits and how to get started visit ecobricks.org.

6. Support sustainably sourced goods

Shopping from local businesses not only helps you support and connect with your community at places such as swap meets, yard sales, and farmers' markets but also cuts down on the environmental impact of what you buy. Smaller, sustainably sourced farming practices produce much fewer carbon emissions than bigger companies. In addition, buying stuff locally reduces the carbon emissions created by your products as they don't need to travel across the world to get to you.

7. Be more mindful of our consumption

It’s very difficult in this day and age to not overconsume. Today’s society not only allows for but actually encourages overconsumption. From clothes to technology and even to food, we are buying and discarding items at an incredibly fast rate that our planet cannot keep up with. According to The World Counts, “we need about 1.75 planets to provide the resources for our consumption and absorb our waste. By 2030, we will need 2 planets. We only have one.”

In order to help confront the issue of climate change, we as consumers need to make the effort to only purchase what we need, be mindful of where we are consuming from, and also try to use the stuff we already have. Shopping secondhand is one of the many great ways to reduce consumption if you need to purchase something as you are reusing something that is already made. There are also plenty of ways to repurpose things you may already have laying around your house to give them new life and prevent them from becoming waste prematurely. New Year’s resolutions are often designed to find ways to improve ourselves for our own benefit, but with the coming new year, we have a chance to set resolutions that will benefit the world around us as well. 

Top Photo by Abdur Ahmanus via Unsplash

Meera Becker is a recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a major in Sociology and a minor in Applied Psychology. Post-college she is still living in California and exploring different passions and interests such as writing for BUST!