7 Simple Ways to Go Green in the New Year

Blake Reznik

by | Updated: December 13th, 2017 | Read time: 4 minutes

With most of 2017 in the rearview and 2018 fast approaching, if you’re anything like us, we’d be willing to wager that you’re frantically penciling in those New Year’s resolutions.

Carrying Groceries in Eco-Friendly Brown Bag as a Way to Go Green in 2017 | Vitacost.com/blog

For many, turning over that proverbial “new leaf,” replete with new regimens, routines and positive habits can be just the inspiration they need to get the new year off to a stellar start. For others, however, we understand that the concept of implementing such changes can seem daunting.

For those in the latter camp, worry not. Here are seven not-so-difficult-to-enact changes to help you on your quest to live a greener, healthier, more carbon-neutral lifestyle.

1. Tweak your H20-intake habits

We’ve only got this one big, blue marble called Earth and as we get ready for our next 365-day journey around the sun, one of the easiest ways to shrink your carbon footprint is by cutting back on those omnipresent throw-away water bottles. Try installing an in-home water filtration system and pair it with a couple of reusable, glass water bottles to take with you when you’re on the go. Not only will you save some significant green, but you’ll also reduce landfill waste in the process.

2. Delete the DEET

The mosquito-borne illness Zika caused quite a scare in 2016. And, as the need for insect repellent will likely rise, once again, in the warmer months of 2017, you should consider an eco-friendly alternative to traditional repellents containing the chemical, DEET. While not considered a carcinogen, it’s neither great for you — nor the environment. Employing a natural insect repellent during the upcoming mosquito season is a sure-fire way to go green while helping to keep those pesky (and potentially dangerous) bug bites at bay.

3. Green up your coffee game

The past few decades have seen the widespread proliferation of coffee culture. And within the last five years or so, while dovetailing with the explosion of the artisanal, independent roaster (and their ability to purvey their wares online), the terms, “Fair Trade” and “organic” have been brought to the core of what most of us hold near and dear, each and every day: our morning cup of java. And that’s a good thing. By purchasing and brewing organic, Fair Trade coffees, you do your part to ensure that your brew is produced in a sustainable manner, thus minimizing impact on the environment.  

Cut back on your electrical expenditure, as well, by considering a flavor-enhancing, alternative brewing method, such as a French press, Chemex or Aeropress.  

4. Bike or walk Instead of jumping in the car

For short jaunts and errand runs around town (less than one to three miles, round trip), do the environment and your body a favor by powering your own transport. Whether biking or walking, not only are you diminishing your carbon footprint and saving money on gas, you’re also keeping your cardio game strong. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week in fighting heart disease and stroke. Just remember to stay hydrated with those reusable water bottles mentioned above, or take a nice, frigid coconut water to go.

5. Really use those reusable bags

We mean this one. Just because you own one (or ten) of these from the local supermarket, they won’t do you (or the environment) any good if you head to pick up some groceries and realize you’ve left them at home. Make it a point to keep them in plain view, either close to your front door (e.g., on a coat rack or hanging on the inside of the door), or nattily tucked behind the front seats of your car, with the tops sticking out — so you remember them. We really dig the selection of well-designed reusable totes over at Baggu.

6. Tidy up your dishwashing detergent

It’s long been known that phosphates are dangerous to the environment. Phosphate runoff can negatively affect lakes, rivers and streams by causing algal blooms, which can in turn produce dangerous toxins, kill fish and starve other underwater aquatic life of oxygen. While many laundry detergent manufacturers have jettisoned these compounds over the decades, phosphate-free dishwashing detergents have only begun to make inroads in recent years. By choosing to wash your dishes sans phosphates, you can lend a helping hand to ensure future generations have access to safe, healthy public water supplies.

7. Don’t just be local, eat local

Next time you’re ready to take the family out for a good meal, go full locavore. Seek out dining establishments that make it a point to support local farmers and agriculture. Not only will your meals be fresher and tastier, with nutrient-rich ingredients that got to their final destination within hours (not days or weeks), you’ll also cut way back on pollution and energy traditionally required to transport foodstuffs from far-away places. Sites like Eat Well Guide offer an easy-to-search functionality so you can simply sort out where to get your local, sustainable grub on in 2017.