Green Tips: Sustainable Habits for 2023

Green Tips | January 20, 2023

By Peter Aronson

The world seems to be talking about sustainability. If you Google “Sustainable habits for the new year 2023,” you’ll get more hits than you can possibly read, and more suggestions than you can possibly follow. So we did the work for you.

Here is our list of important and obtainable sustainability goals for the new year – goals the average person can strive for in our collective effort to reduce our carbon footprints. While you may be thinking I am only one person, the truth is, if we act together, it will make a difference. 

  1. Walk or ride a bike when possible, instead of driving a car or using a bus or a train. Obviously, exercise is good for your health, but it also reduces your carbon footprint with every step. If walking or biking is not possible, then use public transportation. (Fast Fact: Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation make up 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest single contributor. Source: EPA.)
  2. Ditch plastic bottled water and take-out coffee cups. Carry your own water bottle and reusable coffee mug. (Fast Fact: Americans buy 29 billion bottles of water a year and dispose of 60 million a day, most of which end up in landfills. Source: Healthy Human)
  3. Start recycling, or if you already do, reread the rules about what items go in which bin, to make sure you are doing it correctly. Recycling is essential to reducing the waste going to landfills. According to the EPA, landfills produce 15 percent of human-caused methane emissions, an extremely potent greenhouse gas. (Fast Fact: In 2021, the U.S. threw away 40 millions tons of plastic waste and only 5-6 percent of this was recycled. Source: Smithsonian Magazine.)
  4. Ditch fast fashion and start thrifting. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful clothes you’ll find at thrift stores in your neighborhood. Worn, broken-in jeans, beautiful blouses, gently-used sweaters. Sometimes you’ll find unworn clothes. And no reason to buy new dishes, when you’ll see beautiful sets of kitchenware piled high on shelves. By buying used items, you are eliminating the carbon footprint created by the production, packaging and transportation of new items, too often from overseas. Here are some tips on where to thrift in NYC: SecretNYC, ThrillestYour Brooklyn Guide
  5. Buy local – everything – clothes, food, etc. If you have to buy new clothes, buy something that was manufactured locally. This supports local businesses and reduces the carbon footprint left by global transportation. Buy vegetables and fruit at your local outdoor green market. GrowNYC provides an interactive map of the markets in the five boroughs. Although many are closed in winter months, there are enough open where most New Yorkers can find a viable option. To find a market in other parts of New York state, click here. Through Google, you can find a green market in most places across the country.  
  6. Start composting your food scraps. As we wrote about previously, New York City is ramping up its composting efforts, starting a Queens-wide program in October and adding compost bins in upper Manhattan more recently. To find  a composting location near you in NYC,  click here. To find composting locations elsewhere, Google: composting in [add your location]. (Fast fact: Food scraps in a landfill produce 20 times the amount of methane as composted food scraps. Source: Institute for Local Self-Reliance)
  7. Eat less meat. Go vegetarian or vegan. Aside from the health advantages to a plant-based diet, this change could reduce greenhouse gasses by a significant portion, because growing and harvesting plants produces far less pollution than raising animals and processing them for food. To read more about why a plant-based diet is healthier and reduces your carbon footprint, see these two studies from Harvard and UCLA

A few other obtainable sustainability goals for 2023 (and really, forever): sign-up for paperless statements and invoices from banks, credit card and brokerage companies and any other institution sending you regular paper mail. And if you buy a car, buy one that is hybrid or electric.

We suggest discussing all these goals with your family, particularly school-age children. It’s important to make them aware of the issues and involve them in this process, because over time they will be the ones most impacted by our warming world.

And it’s also a good idea to read about global warming and how it is impacting people and countries around the world. The more we all read, the more we all realize the devastating impact the extreme weather is having on our people and our planet, the clearer it will be for everyone to understand that we all must act now to change our lifetime habits, for the benefit of everyone. 

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