Sustainable New Years Resolutions You Need to Add to Your List (small changes, big impact!)
Written by Konstantina Antoniadou.
Let’s not sugarcoat it; the idea of setting a New Year’s resolution for 2023 may strike you as particularly exhausting. Sometimes, all the stigma around the “destined-to-fail” goals and all that new-year-new-me noise stuffing up January's crispy air may feel, well, frugal. After all, studies have shown that about 77% of people are able to maintain resolutions after one week, but after six months, that drops to 46%. That’s only if we manage to keep them going until Ditch Resolutions Day (January 17), right? Um, no!
The problem many of us face when drafting sustainable new year's resolutions is that we aim for absolute perfection, which is just not possible. How many times did that oh-so-familiar feeling of utter disappointment wash over me while I was flopped over on my sofa, because, yet again, I didn’t take advantage of the brand-new gym membership? 5? 10? More like 300–but, I digress. Maybe, being a serial news-years-resolution breaker was not a personality trait after all, but a lack of motivation.
So, why do my sustainable new year's resolutions always fail?
In reality, in order to stick to our sustainable new year's resolutions, we simply needed to relieve our minds from the self-imposed pressure by finding good-for-you tweaks to our usual routine. Establishing healthy habits and setting realistic eco-friendly goals can absolutely have an outsized effect on your well-being. And establishing SMART goals is the quickest way to get (and remain) hyped about our eco-efforts.
Why SMART GOALS should be the focus of your eco-friendly resolutions?
A clear direction that inspires you into action, if you will. Setting realistic SMART goals opens up a world of new opportunities that can be life-changing on so many levels!
The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. By keeping all the aforementioned criteria in mind, you can practically grogram yourself to focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal. Let’s break down these terms.
Specific: In order for your green new year's resolutions to be effective, you need to be defined, clear, and unambiguous.
What’s the task you need to accomplish?
What steps need to be taken to achieve it?
Measurable: Now that you have your eco-friendly goals set, it's time to find ways to measure your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal. This way, you’ll track the progress and know when you’ve reached the finish line.
Achievable: There's nothing wrong with making ambitious green new years resolutions, but you also have to be realistic and ask yourself: Is this goal attainable and not impossible to achieve?
Relevant: Time to look at the big picture. How is this goal relevant to your life purpose?
Time-Bound: Time-related parameters always help us stick to our initial goals because they create urgency. So make sure to set a clearly defined timeline that works for your lifestyle.
Remember that sometimes, help is needed and that’s exactly why it’s always best to make your sustainable new year's resolutions and celebrate small victories along the way. In fact, If the people in your life know all about your eco-friendly goals for the year, they'll be able to support you, which will make you less stressed and more resilient in your approach–according to the APA.
Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions & eco-friendly goals
Now that you have a pretty good idea of how to set SMART eco-friendly resolutions, let’s go ahead and list the most important and easy-to-tackle environmental resolution examples for 2023 and beyond. Instead of crumbling up the generic set of expectations we annually hold ourselves to (aka drink more water, exercise more, etc.) and tossing them aside as soon as February rolls around, we found some fantastic eco-friendly resolutions that will help you conquer your new year’s ambitions.
Reduce energy consumption
Did you know that devices continue to use energy even in “sleep mode”? By simply switching off all your devices at night, you will save 40 watts every day –which equals a 10% lower electric bill. If you are ready to take your sustainable new year's resolutions to the next level, consider investing in a smart power strip to lower your energy waste even more. Basically, these strips are designed to reduce your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode.
Pro tip: You can take your laundry game to the next level and save 25% of energy usage by opting for fair trade, marine-inspired wool dryer balls. They are a fantastic eco-hack to help you speed up drying and prevent wrinkles as well. And they are also downright adorable!
Reduce plastic usage with zero-waste alternatives
It’s no secret that we produce 300 million tons of plastic each year worldwide, half of which is for single-use items. This also includes the approximately 500 billion plastic bags people use worldwide annually. In fact, Americans alone use half a billion drinking straws every day. This is the perfect time to do a waste audit and maybe find some amazing reusable alternative for your most commonly-used plastic items.
Some great examples are Bamboo Cutlery Sets, Silicone Sealer Bags, and, of course, reusable produce bags. There is something very exciting about knowing that your actions can have such a big impact on changing the world – one single-use plastic item at a time.
Donate & recycle!
Have you ever considered the sheer amount of perfectly-good clothing and undies you have? We published a comprehensive guide on how to How To Get Rid Of Your Old Underwear sustainably. You can always find recycling facilities near you to get rid of your used-to-death textiles. In fact, recycling fabrics reduce greenhouse gases by 50% or more over making clothing from brand-new materials!
You can take your eco-friendly goals even further by opting for second-hand clothing as well. There are many fantastic hidden gems out there. Plus, you’ll feel 10 times better about yourself and your ability to honor your eco pledge–and help other folks in the process.
Wash your clothes less & prevent microfiber pollution
Wash your clothes less in order to save water and join the battle against microplastic pollution. Here’s the thing; every year, we breathe at least 13,000 to 68,000 plastic microfibers from our clothing, carpets, curtains, and other textiles. To date, 1.5 million trillion microfibers are present in the ocean, and tiny plastic fibers have also been found in our drinking water –yikes!
Shockingly, one piece of clothing can release a staggering 700,000 fibers in a single wash. So every time we do laundry, 9 million microfibers are released into wastewater, and end up in the ocean. Yes, the Problem With Microfibers is huge. Let’s not forget that 25% of the carbon footprint of a garment comes from the way we care for it as well.
Aside from washing your clothes less often and reducing the volume of water you use in proportion to fabric—because heavy water use is linked to more shedding, you can also opt for microfiber-catching laundry balls/bags. Another great idea? Swap your chemically-laden detergent with Laundry Detergent Strips that produce no waste.
Buy locally-produced food
Farmers' markets have fruits and vegetables at the peak of the growing season and that’s exactly why the produce is at its freshest and tastes so delicious. But did you know that locally and regionally produced food saves 5 to 17 times the CO2 that conventional food distribution companies produce? Yes!
Your quick trip to the farmer’s market is much more beneficial than you think. Grab your Farmer’s Market Bundle and let’s make some mouthwatering recipes.
Share your eco-friendly goals & inspire others
Sharing your values, concerns, and knowledge with your loved ones allows you to live out your passion and purpose even more. Simple, heart-to-heart discussions about climate change and sustainability can not only help you reflect on yourself but also make you a force for good for others. Remember, if we want the world to change, we need to believe that change is possible and help others understand the reason behind our eco-friendly resolutions. Every action, no matter how small it may seem, helps lead the way to a better, brighter future. Society is changing, and taking action today is worth it –even if we start with helping our friends and family understand the real issues.
Watch documentaries together to further and let them be the positive reinforcement you need to keep working on your sustainable New Year’s resolutions. Kiss the Ground, A Life on This Planet, Ice on Fire, and The Story of Plastic are only a few options.
Keep educating yourself on eco-things
If you want to stick to your eco-friendly resolutions and make a positive change, it’s important to keep educating yourself on the topic. Develop knowledge, skills, values, and motivations for action to keep you going even when you want to "slip" within the first month of your resolution. It’s no secret that motivation pushes you towards your goal because of a desire for change.
You can start your day by reading your favorite zero-waste blogs, signing up for free courses, or newsletters like Green Matters and Eco Watch.
At-home composting is the cool thing to do
Over 70 billion pounds of food waste enter landfills every year. The weekly avoidable food waste per household was calculated to be equivalent to $18.01, and 23.3 kg of CO2. Plus, about 150,000 tons of food is tossed out in US households each day. Food stays there for years as it decomposes naturally which results in severe damage of the environment and the surrounding communities. Even worse, food scraps don’t break down in landfills like you probably thought.
This Green Cleaning Starter Kit will give your compost pile and garbage extra mileage while eliminating smells–sound great, right?
Have a low-spend or no-spend month/year
A no-spend year is basically a commitment (aka a part of your sustainable new year's resolutions) to not spend any money on unnecessary items for a whole year. Of course, this only included non-essential items like clothing, decor, take-out food, makeup, gifts, etc This includes all non-essential spending like take-out food, clothing, and decor.
In reality, consumerism and impulse shopping is often linked to feelings of happiness as Psychologist Daniel Kahneman explained. However, this momentary pleasure is very temporary and thus, it needs to be refueled by new purchases constantly. This eco-friendly goal will help you identify the true reasons behind your shopping tendencies and offer a brand-new perspective. Oh, and let’s not forget the money-saving aspect as well.
Say YES To SMART Sustainable New Years' Resolutions
The reality is that, from a psychological standpoint, you can take advantage of some tried-and-true strategies that will make sticking to your sustainable new year's resolutions easier – regardless of the type of eco-friendly goals. And as soon as you set yourself on this successful path, you’ll be able to build confidence and self-esteem in your abilities, relieve your eco-anxiety and feel like you’re actively contributing to the collective efforts to save our Earth.
Your low waste life, made simple
Inevitably, you're going to miss a day of your workout challenge, accidentally forget to pack your reusable straw, or you're going to forget to use your Kitchen Compost Bin. To that point, just because slipped, it does not mean that all your hard work the months prior were for nothing. Cut yourself some slack and get going!
I hope you can take a few minutes to revisit your outlook on reusables and the passive associations you have with them.
Perhaps you can use it to your advantage for your New Years' Resolutions and make us a part of your SMART eco-friendly goals.