The New Year is a time to resolve to do something different, better, less or more. Resolving to adopt some environmentally friendly actions, will see multiple positive changes to your wallet, your time, your health and the environment. By adopting just one of the following ten options, you can have a big impact.
- Walk, run or cycle to work
Not only is it better for the environment, but commuting to work on foot could also be better for your waistline. Studies also show that commuting to work by bus, train, bicycle or foot makes people happier than those who use their car each day instead.
- Pick sustainable alternatives
Not all 'healthy' foods are good for the environment. Take avocados, for example. Our love for this delicious treat – on toast in the morning; whizzed into smoothies; scattered over salads – could be harming the planet and fuelling deforestation in central Mexico. Mexican farmers are thinning out and eradicating huge pine forests in order to illegally plant the money-making fruit trees to meet a never-ending demand.
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables
The growing, transportation, packaging, retailing and cooking of food, together with the clearing of land to grow food in the first place, accounts for a part of Australia’s carbon footprint. And when it comes to vegetables, nothing tastes as good as something you’ve grown yourself. You don’t need a huge yard – a little bit of space in the back garden or courtyard will do just as well. The trick is to make the most of the resources you have.
- Reduce plastic bag use and choose reuseable shopping bags
Currently, people around the world use 3.9 billion plastic bags a year. While many stores now accept plastic bags for recycling, over 1 million plastic bags end up in the bin every minute. Not only are fabric bags great for the environment, but they can hold more groceries and the handles are easier on your hands. Keep them in your car by your wallet or shopping list. There is just no excuse any more to use plastic bags, not one.
- Use a refillable water bottle
Australians buy 600 million litres of bottled water a year. Use a refillable water bottle instead. Treat your water bottle like your keys and your wallet that you take wherever you go.
- Think about your cosmetics
Microbeads in everyday household products like face exfoliants and body scrubs are flushed into rivers and seas by the trillion, causing havoc to marine life and can make their way into the human food chain. Plastic litter in the ocean is a fast growing problem, with large items, such as packaging, breaking down into so-calledmicroplastics.
- Cut down on your vehicle’s emissions
Keep the car in good working order with regular maintenance and keep tyre pressure atproper levels. Plan your trips to combine stops in an orderly route and don’t let your car idle more than a few minutes as it contributes to emissions.
Cut down on household chemicals and replace with environmentally friendly, non-toxic options
Many household cleaners contain chemicals that may not have been tested or labelled. Some of the most used cleaners – ammonia, chlorine bleach, and aerosols – can have harmful effects when they come into contact with the skin. In addition to being absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, the fumes they give off are inhaled into the lungs. Choose eco-friendly cleaning products and look for labels which say ‘low phosphorous’. It will still give you the clean you need without the toxic chemicals.
- Reduce water use
Take showers rather than baths and turn off the water while you brush your teeth or shave. Only do full loads in the clothes or dishwasher unless the water level can be adjusted for smaller loads. When hand washing dishes, wash them all then rinse rather than run the water while each item is washed. If using your dishwasher, always use the energy saver setting. Use a rain gauge and only water lawns and gardens as needed. Washing your car on the lawn ensures that the dirt and toxic waste water will be absorbed and neutralised by the soil rather than flowing in the drains.
- Reduce energy use
Replace standard incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights. They last years longer to offset the added cost and save energy use by nearly 80 percent for cost saving on your energy bill. Eliminate phantom power loss by unplugging all the electronic chargers in the home when not in use or use power strips to turn off multiple appliances at once. Use a timer on TVs, stereos, DVDs and game systems to automatically turn off at night (or day) when no one is using them. Invest in chargers that stop using electricity when your device is fully charged.
If everyone implements just one of these resolutions in 2018, the world will literally be a better place.