With the start of a new year comes new year’s resolutions for many people. Whether it’s eating healthy, getting more exercise or committing to finishing a household project, our goals are usually to improve our lives.
What if this year, we all made resolutions to improve our planet?
If everyone took the initiative to make even a small change in their habits to help out the earth and kept it up for one year, the impact would be unimaginable.
Obviously, not everyone keeps their new year’s resolutions, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. I think one secret to success is to commit to very small changes that are easy to do. If you try to resolve to make huge changes, you can quickly become burned out. It’s easier to use your will power to introduce manageable changes in your habits.
With small, possible changes to help the earth in mind, what if you resolved to shrink how much trash you produce?
One of the biggest impacts we have on the environment is our trash. The best way to lessen the impact of our trash is to produce less trash in the first place.
That doesn’t mean you should just stop throwing things away, but there are many easy ways to reduce your trash starting at the grocery store.
For a start, you could use reusable bags when you go shopping. If you forget to bring the reusable bags you have already purchased (as I did many times when I first started using them), you can buy more at the checkout for $1 or less per bag, and then use the extra bags as reusable gift bags.
You can also shop at stores that don’t use plastic bags like Aldi and just use your shopping cart or cardboard boxes from the store.
Another trash-reducing strategy is to buy items in recyclable containers. Checking plastic containers for the recyclable symbol isn’t enough — only containers marked No. 1 or No. 2 are recyclable in Danville and many other recycling centers in the state.
Many plastic products are recyclable No. 5 or even higher, which means they aren’t really recyclable, at least not with the technology we have available in this area.
Whenever you buy food in a plastic container, give the bottom a quick check for its recyclable number. Try to find replacement products for any that aren’t No. 1 or No. 2.
Something even better for the environment than buying recyclable containers is buying in bulk.
Buying in bulk is good for your wallet because the more you buy, the better value you are getting and the less trash you will produce once you have used it.
One example of an easy bulk choice is when you’re buying shampoo. I’m pretty sure shampoo never expires, which means you can buy the biggest bottle available even if you don’t go through it very fast. The bigger the bottle, the better your shampoo-to-plastic ratio becomes.
You can also make sure your shampoo, conditioner, lotion and other beauty products are all in recyclable bottles.
Another option for your environmental resolution could be to invest in a water purifier.
By buying a water filter and filling up a reusable water bottle, you can save lots of plastic and lots of water.
It takes more water to produce a plastic water bottle than the water bottle itself can hold, thus making plastic water bottles incredibly bad for the environment.
Another good investment is a set of quality, reusable, food-grade containers — just make sure they are freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe. Good containers let you store things without having to use plastic zip bags, which are not recyclable (though they are reusable).
If you do end up using plastic zip bags, you can give them a rinse with some soap and water and then hang them inside out to dry before using them again
If you have other ideas for new year’s environmental resolutions, I’d love to hear about them.
Even if you choose just one small change, every little bit helps. Start with one or two really easy things, and then once you have those down pat, you can go back and add more positive changes into your routine.
It may not seem like much, but over the course of a year, small changes can really add up.
Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week
Birds can poop as frequently as every 15 minutes in order to maintain a good weight for flying.