Green Tips: New Years Resolutions

Green Tips | January 4, 2019

“New year, new you,” right? As we leave 2018 behind and look forward to 2019, it’s time to start thinking about our new year’s resolutions. Normally, a new year means trying to make some positive changes in your life. This year, why not incorporate some new green habits to help out the environment? Some simple changes to your lifestyle can have a huge impact. Consider these ideas for greening your new year:

  • Support renewable energy.
    • Own your own home? Consider installing solar panels, New York State offers tax breaks and other incentives to go solar. You can find out more here.
    • Consider installing a ground source heat pump for your home. This uses geothermal energy to heat and cool your home. New York State also offers financial incentives for this that you can find here.
    • Learn about the benefits of renewable energy and share them with your community. Here are some great resources from our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
  • Cut back on driving.
    • Often, people make resolutions to exercise more. An easy way to get your exercise and reduce your carbon output is biking or walking. It may seem like a lot of work but the benefits are worth it. The New York Times has a great guide for biking to work here.
    • If walking or biking isn’t for you or you have a longer commute, use public transportation, like trains and buses. Depending on where you live, taking a train or bus can be easy and convenient.
  • Test drive an EV. If you must drive, consider an electric vehicle (EV). New York State has some great economic incentives for making the switch to an EV. If you are a member, you may be eligible for an exclusive discount to purchase an electric vehicle. Give one a try by taking a test drive.
  • Make the switch to reusable grocery bags. Shoppers worldwide use approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year. A considerable amount of this plastic finds its way into our oceans posing a serious threat to marine life. Used consistently, one reusable bag can eliminate the need for more than 700 plastic bags over its lifetime.
  • Stop using unnecessary plastic. An easy way to reduce your footprint is to minimize the amount of unnecessary plastic you are consuming. In addition to bags, there are plastic straws and utensils that pollute our waterways. This year, simply refuse them when at restaurants or fast food locations and for take-out. Consider reusable utensils, or straws.
  • Reduce your meat and dairy intake. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the agricultural sector. A large portion of those emissions come from livestock management and meat production. It may seem difficult to cut down on meat but in addition to the environmental impacts, eating less meat has some significant health and economic benefits too, even just for a couple of days per week. Check out our guide to meatless Mondays for more information.
  • Grow your own food. If you have space, try growing your own food. It may seem like a lot of work but studies have shown that backyard gardening leads to healthier and happier lifestyles. When you buy your food from a grocery store, there are hidden environmental costs, such as transporting the food to the store and the packaging.
  • Try composting.
    • About one-third of what New Yorkers throw away can be composted. Food scraps and other organics do not break down in landfills the same way they do in compost piles. Not only does composting reduce waste, it also helps enrich soil used for growing trees and grass, improving our vital greenspaces. Anyone can compost, whether you live in a house or apartment. Check out our guide to composting here.
    • Don’t have a yard? Some cities and towns, including New York City, have municipal organic waste collection programs, which makes it easier for you to collect and drop off your food scraps for compost or to be turned into renewable energy. For more information on how to sign up click here.
  • Join a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is similar to a co-op where members buy shares to support a group of farmers who do most of the work. Buying shares allows members to access fresh local produce and support the local economy. If you are interested in joining a CSA, you can find one near you here.
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