The new year is the perfect time to reevaluate our habits and implement new routines and sustainable resolutions. And, when it comes to the environment, there’s never been a better time to reassess how much we really prioritize the planet.
Eco-friendly living may be a popular subject at the moment, but there’s a good reason for that. From cutting back on our carbon emissions to reevaluating our diets and using reusable bags over plastic bags, there are so many ways we can contribute to a healthier planet.
Why Choose Sustainable Resolutions & Eco-friendly Habits for the Year Ahead?
Our planet is in danger more than ever before, and UN reports show that our consumption of natural resources has tripled in the last four decades. We’re facing extreme weather conditions, a depletion in clean drinking water, and a reduction in vital resources, which puts all life at risk, as well as making life harder for future generations.
But there is an opportunity to do better, and with commitment and collective effort, we can save the planet from a premature end. From recycling more to rethinking our love affair with fast fashion, here are seven sustainable resolutions to help you form lasting eco-friendly new year habits. Incorporate these into your life to put the planet first and do your bit to help our environment!
7 Sustainable Resolutions to Create Eco-friendly Habits in 2024
1. Shop Pre-Loved
Buying new every time we need something not only costs us more money but leads to huge amounts of wastage, both in production and the use of resources. It is also compounded when we throw out perfectly usable items in place of new ones, so reusing plastic bags and packaging that those new items come in is crucial.
In addition to the waste that comes directly from manufacturing, fast fashion encourages our throwaway culture and results in huge amounts of waste ending up in landfills which puts further strain on our environment. Shopping pre-loved means that we make better use of what’s already in existence and prevent perfectly usable items from ending up in landfills, where they contribute to pollution and the release of microplastics in our soils and oceans.
Where possible, shopping pre-loved can minimize your environmental impact and save you money in the process. In many cases, you might even be able to find items that have never been worn or are still in their original packaging, but at a fraction of the cost to you and the planet.
2. Skip Printed Tickets and Documents
If you’re someone who travels a lot, whether for leisure or for work, or you like to attend gigs and events, skipping the printed ticket in favor of a digital alternative can quickly make a big difference. In fact, paper is the third major contaminant of air, water, and soil, accounting for 26% of waste at landfills, and it’s an easy change for us to make to reduce the amount that gets wasted.
If you do need to print a ticket, be mindful of the materials used to minimize the impact. Eco-inks, for example, and recycled paper help to reduce harm to the environment. Similarly, seeded papers are sustainable and eco-friendly, as one eco-minded printing company explains, using a combination of recycled paper, cotton fibers, and seeds. Once the message has been read, the paper can be planted, and the paper will germinate to produce seedlings.
3. Adopt a Greener Diet
Animal products generate far more greenhouse gasses than plant-based foods, and the amount of land and resources required for agricultural purposes is huge. Even just cutting back by going vegan for one or two days a week can make a massive difference and collectively can help to reduce the world’s reliance on meat and dairy.
A study carried out back in 2016, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, stated that if everyone went vegan, the world’s food-related emissions would drop by 70% by 2050. And while it’s not necessarily practical or possible for everyone to adopt a full-time vegan diet, small changes can have a big impact and can help us diversify our diets for numerous health benefits too.
4. Buy Local
An easy swap for the new year, and one that can help to reduce pollution, is to shop local and support local farmers where possible. The transportation of goods accounts for a large percentage of our carbon emissions, so going local is a great way to tackle your carbon footprint and support your local community at the same time.
When it comes to buying fresh produce, shopping locally and shortening the journey that food needs to go on can also reduce food waste since there’s less likelihood of produce expiring or being damaged from transportation, after which it can’t be sold.
From your weekly groceries to gifts and one-off items, buying local rather than from companies that ship their products helps to cut down on transportation costs, creates more job opportunities in your local area, and reduces packaging waste from transporting items overseas.
Take a look at this video by TEDx Talks for more on the benefits of buying local:
5. Walk More
In the spirit of cutting down on transportation, there are sure to be instances in your life where you take the car or bus when walking would be just as practical. Maybe it’s when you’re dropping the kids off at school, commuting to work, or going to the gym. Even if you make the change for a few of the activities in your life where you usually use your car, it can help to cut your greenhouse gas emissions down.
Choosing to walk doesn’t only help to make your weekly routine more eco-friendly, but it also saves you money on gas and keeps you healthy, which is a new year’s resolution many of us choose to adopt.
As you get more comfortable with this way of living, see if you can extend that reduction in harmful transportation to further afield, too, such as choosing electric vehicles, using trains instead of flying for vacations and avoiding cruise holidays.
6. Save Water
We often overlook our water usage when it comes to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but it’s still an area that negatively impacts the planet. Conserving water saves energy because of the amount of energy needed to filter, heat, and pump water into our homes, so reducing this usage will also reduce your carbon footprint. It also keeps more water in the environment for ecosystems and natural habitats which need it.
A long hot shower in the morning may be a hard habit to break, but the process wastes a huge quantity of water. In fact, limiting your morning shower to just five minutes per day could save as much carbon emissions as is sequestered annually by half an acre of U.S. forest and reduces your personal water usage by 45 gallons a week.
In addition to reducing time in the shower, installing a low-flow showerhead can help to reduce the amount of water you use each time you shower, which can help to reduce the environmental impact of your bathroom considerably.
7. Watch Your Digital Footprint
When we think about sustainable resolutions, we naturally gravitate toward the physical items in our lives. But the carbon emissions from IT equipment are just as damaging and just as easy to adapt. Every time you send an email, watch a YouTube video or write up a document, you’re using energy to power the device and contributing to the need for servers that use vast amounts of power to run.
So, stay mindful and turn off your computer when you’re not using it, unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t need, block those video auto-play features and read physical books and magazines over their digital versions.
Final Thoughts on Setting Sustainable Resolutions to Develop Lasting Eco-friendly Habits
There are various ways to reduce your environmental impact, just through the products you use, the way you shop, and the way you carry out your weekly routine.
Small changes can soon add up to have a big effect, especially if everyone contributes collectively!
About the Author
Annie Button is a freelance writer who has written for various online and print publications specializing in lifestyle, business, branding, and career development.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the three pillars of sustainability?
The most fundamental aspects of sustainability are the environment, economy, and society. Each of these has a direct and indirect impact on each other, meaning that none of them stand alone, and each needs to be considered when we discuss sustainability, whether it's waste and materials to the conditions people work in. Read the full guide to learn how you can incorporate sustainability into your daily habits.
Is being eco-friendly expensive?
No. It's a common misconception that living an eco-friendly life is for the elite only, but that's not true. In fact, many changes will actually save you money, such as cutting your energy usage, which will bring your bills down, or walking to work instead of driving which will cut fuel costs. Read the full guide to learn how you can spend less while being more sustainable with some simple sustainable resolutions for the year ahead.
What are some ways I can be more sustainable?
While eating less meat, using less transport, and avoiding fast fashion are all effective ways, you can also use renewable energy in your home, establish and maintain green spaces that will help to reduce pollution, or work with ethical companies such as banks who are doing more for the planet, as just a few examples. Read the full guide to learn how you can be more sustainable with simple habits for your everyday life.
References & Useful Resources
Friends of the Earth: Saving the Planet: Top Tips to Help Climate and Nature
The Nature Conservancy: What is Your Carbon Footprint? A Carbon Footprint Calcualator
World Wildlife Fund: Six Tips to Help You Eat More Sustainably
Which? News: Five Ways to Shop Small and Buy Better