Every year, millions of people across the country contemplate the year that has passed and make New Year’s Resolutions. This year, we’re doing our own list of New Year’s Resolutions with an eye toward limiting our impact on the environment. If we each make small but meaningful changes, we can part of helping make a positive impact on the environment.
Limit or eliminate the use of single use plastic
Plastic bags and bottles are convenient, but they are difficult to recycle and often end up in landfills. Even worse, most of these materials simply break down into microplastics and end up in our oceans and rivers.
Resolution 1: Ditch single use plastic bags for reusable bags when running errands or going to the grocery.
Resolution 2: Kick the plastic water bottle habit and replace with a refillable bottle.
If you can’t eliminate waste, recycle
No matter how hard we try, we will still likely end up with waste at our homes. Holiday delivery boxes and cans/bottle of soft drinks don’t need to end up in the landfill. Many cities have recycling as part of their waste management programs. Where it’s not included and you can afford the additional expense, sign up for recycling. In New Orleans, glass recycling is not included in city disposal charges, but Glass Half Full accepts glass recycling for free in person and will even pick up for a small charge.
Resolution 3: Commit to recycling what can be recycled in your city.
Find opportunities to skip the car
Transportation is a major producer of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Americans are heavily reliant on their cars. That is really difficult to change, but we can all find opportunities to skip using our cars even a few times a month.
In New Orleans, a scenic ride to work or to the French Quarter for fun on our historic streetcars can help you skip gas and see the city from a new perspective. And, you’ll get the added benefit of not having to find a place to park. Most major cities offer some form of public transit. Give it a go!
Public transit not an option? On a day with nice weather, grab a bike and take a ride with friends or your children to lunch or breakfast on a weekend.
Resolution 4: Prioritize limiting the use of personal vehicles and find fun ways to get around.
Don’t put good items in landfills
As you’re cleaning out your closet or storage unit, don’t toss the items you no longer need. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
That old coat you’ve outgrown or tea kettle you no longer use could be just what one of your neighbor’s needs. Consider donating these items or passing them on to a friend. Some social media platforms have local groups where people just like you are looking to give or receive.
If an item is past it’s prime, get creative. Upcycle an old item into a piece of art. Or help a friend in the Krewe of Muses transform a shoe into a prized possession.
Resolution 5: Look for opportunities to donate or upcycle items you no longer need.
Most of these changes won’t cost you a thing or will cost you very little. They may feel small, but if we all resolve to take steps to limit our impact on the environment, we can make a difference. Cheers to a more environmentally friendly new year!