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Let’s do a fresh start and take actions to save our earth. Here’s a list of sustainable New Year’s resolutions to lower your carbon footprint — sorted from easy to hard.

It’s getting close to that time of year when you should be looking for New Year's resolution ideas. And while health-related ideas are always important, in today’s climate change crisis, it’s time to consider sustainable New Year's resolutions. 

I would also be the first person to admit that I have broken more of these resolutions than I have kept in the past. And that’s why a few years ago, I started taking a different approach. 

Rather than make a pledge to myself to make one huge change in January, I made a list of small eco-friendly ideas that I could gradually implement each month. 

Eventually, these sustainable resolutions became normal habits, and they have made a massive impact on our carbon footprint. 

Let me show you how to do this. 

12 Sustainable New Year's Resolutions To Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Here are my 12 New Year's resolutions that you can plan for each month. What I would suggest doing is setting up a reminder for each one on the first of every month of next year and adding a link to this blog. 

That way, you’ll have a simple reminder to keep starting your next sustainable resolutions.

#1: Use Less Water (Difficulty: Easy)

Starting your journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle can be as simple as reducing your water consumption. This practice is not only crucial in drought-prone regions like California and Arizona but equally beneficial in areas without water shortages.

The underlying reason is the energy and carbon footprint associated with purifying and delivering water to your home. Each time you open a tap, a small yet significant amount of energy is expended, accumulating over time.

Begin by re-evaluating your laundry habits. Opt for a modern washing machine that excels in both energy and water efficiency. Always run full loads, and reconsider washing clothes that may be worn again. This approach saves water and extends the life of your garments.

In the bathroom, small tweaks can lead to substantial savings. Adjust your toilet's water tank to fill to a lower level, and install a low-flow showerhead. These simple changes in two of the most water-intensive areas of your home can significantly reduce your overall consumption.

By implementing these minor yet impactful adjustments, you contribute to a larger collective effort in conserving our precious water resources, fostering a sustainable and mindful lifestyle.

New Year's Resolutions to save water

#2: Minimize Vampire Power (Difficulty: Easy)

Have you ever considered the hidden impact of 'vampire' or 'phantom' power on your electricity bills? It's a surprisingly significant factor in your overall energy consumption.

As February 1st approaches, it's the perfect time to audit your home. Take a close look at everything plugged in: TVs, cable boxes, game consoles, and chargers are typical culprits, silently drawing power even when turned off.

Incorporate into your New Year's resolutions a simple yet effective habit: unplugging these devices when not in use. This small step can make a big difference.

To streamline this process, why not invest in power strips with switches? This allows you to easily cut off power without unplugging, protecting your devices and potentially slashing up to 20% off your energy bills. Embracing this practice not only saves money but also contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle.

New Year's Resolutions to stop Phantom Energy loss

#3: Donate Your Old Stuff (Difficulty: Easy)

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is crucial for our planet, and one effective way to contribute is by ensuring that items you no longer use avoid ending up in landfills. Consider donating your electronics, furniture, books, and, notably, clothes.

Fast fashion poses a significant environmental challenge. The cycle of buying cheap, short-lived garments and discarding them for new ones exacerbates waste and pollution.

Instead, make a habit of donating wearable clothing to charities or second-hand stores. If you've been opting for sustainable fashion brands, there's a good chance your clothes are still in great condition for someone else to enjoy.

Remember, many charity organizations welcome older but functional electronics. Not everyone needs or can afford the latest gadgets. Donating your gently used smartphone or TV can make a big difference to someone else while reducing electronic waste.

By adopting these simple practices, you not only lessen your environmental footprint but also support a cycle of reuse that benefits both the planet and the community.

New Year's Resolutions to donate

#4: Use Reusable Products (Difficulty: Easy)

The widespread use of single-use items, from plastic packaging to disposable coffee cups, significantly impacts the environment and contributes to the climate crisis.

Instead of contributing to this cycle by filling your recycling bin with plastic bottles, opt for a durable, reusable water bottle. Similarly, transition from paper napkins to cloth ones that can be washed and reused countless times.

Another suggestion is to invest in a reusable cup for your daily coffee runs. Not only does this reduce waste, but it often brings a small discount at many coffee shops.

A significant challenge is the single-use plastic wrapping prevalent in supermarkets. My solution has been to bring reusable containers to my local farmer's market, where vendors are usually happy to accommodate. This practice, which I've been following for years, has inspired dozens of others to do the same.

Finally, one of the most impactful New Year's resolutions you can make is to embrace reusable paper towels in your daily routine. By making these changes, we not only reduce our environmental footprint but also set a positive example for others to follow.

New Year's Resolutions to use reusable products

#5: Recycle Your Old Electronics — Difficulty: Easy

As we step into May, it's the perfect time to conduct a spring check of your home for old electronic devices that are ripe for recycling. Think about those decade-old phones gathering dust or the VHS player that's been sitting unused.

These electronic devices, when discarded in landfills, contribute significantly to plastic waste. Moreover, they can release harmful chemicals into the environment. This is a concern even with products claiming to be made of “plastic-free plastic,” as they often contain various metals and toxic substances.

Recycling these electronics is more than just waste management; it's about protecting our planet. By recycling, we reduce the need to mine new raw materials, thus making a substantial difference to our planet's health and the well-being of its ecosystems.

In short, taking the time to recycle your old electronics is a small step with a big impact, helping to preserve our fragile planet for future generations.

New Year's Resolutions to reycle electronics

#6: Eat Less Meat Or Go Vegan (Difficulty: Medium)

As we approach June, consider this aspect of your New Year's resolutions: the environmental impact of your diet. While it's not necessary to become vegan or completely eliminate meat, understanding and reducing your meat consumption can significantly enhance your eco-friendliness.

The environmental footprint of meat production—from animal feed to greenhouse gas emissions—is substantial, especially when compared to locally grown, in-season fruits and vegetables. Reducing meat intake, even moderately, can have a positive effect on our planet.

When you do choose to consume meat or fish, aim for products from organic and sustainable sources. This often means engaging with your local butcher to learn about the origins of their meat, which is likely sourced from small, nearby farms.

You'll find that many butchers are connected with these local producers, ensuring fresher and more sustainable options. Additionally, explore some delicious vegan recipes. They might just surprise you with their flavor and variety, offering a tasty way to support a healthier planet.

New Year's Resolutions togo vegan

#7: Try Meat Alternatives (Difficulty: Medium)

Having successfully reduced your meat intake in June, why not carry that momentum into July by incorporating more meat alternatives into your diet? This simple switch is one of the most effective ways to lower the carbon footprint of your meals.

When prepared creatively, these alternatives can pleasantly surprise even the most dedicated meat-lovers in your circle. From savory plant-based burgers to rich, mushroom-based dishes, the options are both delicious and diverse.

To make this a lasting part of your eco-friendly New Year's resolutions, start exploring the meat alternatives section during your grocery trips. You'll notice an increasing variety of new brands and products, providing a wealth of options for meal planning. This variety not only makes it easier to maintain an environmentally conscious diet but also keeps mealtime exciting and enjoyable for your family.

With each new product you try, you're not just experimenting with flavors; you're contributing to a sustainable future and discovering new favorites along the way.

New Year's Resolutions to eat meat alternatives

#8: Start Composting (Difficulty: Medium)

As we move into August, let's tackle another significant environmental challenge in our homes: the carbon footprint caused by food waste. When food waste ends up in landfills, it decomposes in a way that releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

This month, why not set a goal to start composting your organic and non-animal kitchen and garden waste? While it requires some initial planning, composting is an effective eco-friendly resolution that can make a real difference.

There are numerous composting solutions suitable for various living arrangements, whether you have a spacious yard, a small patio, or even just an indoor kitchen space. Today's composters come fully sealed to prevent any odors, making them perfect for apartment dwellers without outside space.

By setting up a composter, you're not just reducing your household waste; you're actively participating in a process that enriches the soil and reduces harmful emissions. It's a simple yet impactful step towards a more sustainable lifestyle, regardless of where you live.

New Year's Resolutions to start composting

#9: Start Your Own Garden (Difficulty: Medium)

As we delve into our eco-friendly New Year's resolutions for August, let's explore the rewarding world of starting a small vegetable patch. August is an ideal time for this venture, perfect for planting a variety of late-harvest vegetables and preparing for the following year's growing season.

If you're lucky enough to have a garden or a small backyard, consider investing in a greenhouse. A greenhouse offers immense flexibility, allowing you to extend your growing season and experiment with a wider range of produce.

Don't worry if you only have limited space, such as a small patio or just a kitchen windowsill. Container gardening is a fantastic way to grow fruits and vegetables indoors, offering almost year-round food production. From herbs to tomatoes, there's a surprising variety of produce that thrives in small spaces.

To get started, check out this guide on winter gardening tips. It will show you just how easy and fulfilling it can be to cultivate your own fresh produce, bringing the joy of gardening into your home, regardless of its size.

New Year's Resolutions to start gardening

#10: Use An Electric Vehicle — Whether a Car or a Bike — For Commutes (Difficulty: Hard)

As we delve into our sustainable New Year's resolutions, let's tackle one that involves more planning and investment, but with significant long-term benefits. For urban dwellers, the switch to an e-scooter during warmer months presents a fantastic opportunity. It's not just eco-friendlier compared to driving or public transport, but it also offers unparalleled convenience, allowing you to weave through traffic jams with ease.

Moreover, if your daily commute exceeds the range of an e-scooter, it might be time to consider an electric vehicle (EV). Choosing an electricity supplier that focuses on renewable energy and charging your EV at home can lead to near-zero emissions. This shift not only contributes significantly to environmental protection but also promises substantial savings on fuel costs in the long run.

If you're contemplating an EV, this comprehensive EV buying guide is an essential resource. It covers everything you need to consider, from range and charging options to available incentives, helping you find a vehicle that perfectly fits your lifestyle and supports a greener future.

New Year's Resolutions to buy ev

#11: Avoid Food Waste Completely (Difficulty: Hard)

As November arrives, bringing with it Thanksgiving and the lead-up to Christmas, it's an opportune time to focus on reducing food waste. If you've started composting, you'll already have a sense of the amount of food that ends up unused or uneaten.

I'm not just referring to banana skins and apple cores but rather to the more significant issue of food that spoils or remains untouched during meals. To tackle this, I recommend adopting a new approach to meal planning. Many of us tend to prepare more food than necessary. By planning smaller, well-portioned meals and purchasing only the needed ingredients, you can significantly cut down on waste.

One practical strategy I've adopted is keeping a stock of non-perishable snacks. This way, if anyone is still peckish after a meal, there's an option available to satisfy those extra hunger pangs without leading to more food waste.

By making these small changes in how we plan and prepare our meals, we can make a meaningful contribution to reducing food waste, especially during a season known for its abundance. This not only benefits the environment but also helps us cultivate more mindful eating habits.

New Year's Resolutions to stop food waste

#12: Use Renewable Energy (Difficulty: Hard)

As we enter December, our final sustainable New Year's resolution focuses on a pivotal change: transitioning to renewable energy.

Begin by exploring your options with utility providers. Look for those offering a substantial portion of their energy from renewable sources. This change doesn't require any upfront costs and might even come with the perk of a better deal on your electricity unit price.

Next, consider dipping your toes into solar energy by investing in a small solar generator. While it won't fully disconnect you from the grid, it's an excellent first step in your journey towards a greener lifestyle. You'll start to understand the benefits and logistics of producing your own electricity.

If you're ready to take it a step further, think about investing in a more comprehensive solar panel system. This could be the crowning achievement of all your eco-friendly resolutions for the year. Not only does it contribute significantly to reducing your carbon footprint, but it also sets a strong foundation for a sustainable future, potentially offering long-term financial savings and energy independence.

Reflecting on the year, each resolution you've implemented brings us closer to a more sustainable world, with the switch to renewable energy serving as a powerful testament to your commitment.

New Year's Resolutions to use renewable energy

Make A Monthly Sustainable New Year's Resolution 

Making sustainable New Year's resolutions and breaking them down into 12 different things you can gradually introduce will make your home significantly more eco-friendly. 

And if you’ve already taken care of some of the above, then why not come up with some new ones and share them in the comments below? 

If you get into the habit of constant changes and improvements, you’ll make every day earth day, and it will inspire others to do the same thing. 

You’ll also quickly figure out that having a lower impact on the environment will also save you a ton of money in the process of wasting less. 

Chris is one of GreenCitizen’s writers who has been a long-time advocate of individual responsibility when it comes to the environment. He shares GreenCitizen's passion for making the world a better place every day of the year.

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