Not all New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. Unlike promises to hit the gym every day, eat healthier or finally clear out that “junk” zone in your home, “green” goals are a low-effort, high-benefit way to go. Eco-resolutions are easy to keep because they usually involve simple steps, yet they come with far-reaching impact on a personal, community and global level. And that is exponentially gratifying!
How to Be More Sustainable in 2024
A few simple lifestyle changes can greatly reduce our environmental impact and ensure a healthier planet for ourselves and future generations. When you’re ready to tackle your resolutions this year, consider these easy-to-adopt changes to become more sustainable in 2024.
1. Ditch plastic bags – forever!
While many supermarkets have already stopped using plastic bags, not every store has made the switch. Make a habit of bringing along reusable bags when shopping for groceries or running errands, so you’ll never have to ask cashiers for a single-use plastic bag again. Imagine how much plastic use you’ll reduce this year! To make it as easy as possible, find a reusable shopping bag that folds into a small bundle, so you can always keep one in your handbag, your car or by the door.
And while you’re at it, why not give sustainable beeswax food wraps a try? Plastic and chemical free, these versatile, reusable food wraps will keep toxins off your food and plastic out of our landfills and oceans.
2. Shop locally and seasonally
Oranges from Spain, blueberries from Peru, bell peppers from Mexico – food often travels a long way before it ends up in your supermarket’s produce bin. Therefore, it unfortunately comes with a hefty carbon footprint. Luckily (unless you live in the Arctic Circle or the Sahara Desert), there are plenty of fruits and veggies available locally. Instead of shopping at big-chain stores, seek out local co-ops or farmers’ markets for produce that is fresher and even more nutritious. Be sure to shop seasonally, too!
Clean up your daily routine
If you want to make a positive impact with little disruption to your daily life, think of items that you use most in your daily personal care and household routine, and consider zero-waste alternatives and other eco-friendly solutions.
3. Upgrade your toothbrush and toothpaste
You already may have switched to a compostable bamboo toothbrush, but it might be time to reconsider your toothpaste and lose the tube. On average, toothpaste tubes that contain plastic and metal take 500 years to biodegrade in a landfill. Think of how many tubes your household throws away in a year! A great way to turn your oral care routine “green” is to dry toothpaste tabs, which are all natural, chemical free and come in recyclable aluminum tins.
4. Opt for an eco-friendly laundry detergent
Conventional laundry detergents are often an environmental nightmare. They’re loaded with chemicals (which can be terrible for your skin – sensitive or not!) and are packaged in plastic-heavy bottles that are hard to recycle. Instead, consider Hexawash, a zero-waste detergent made with natural magnesium, not chemicals, to keep clothing clean and fresh. Its pouch, made from organic cotton, is allergen-free and a great non-toxic alternative to traditional detergents. Also, there’s no need for a rinsing cycle – which saves electricity and water in the long run.
5. Air-dry your laundry
Did you know that dryers are one of the biggest energy-guzzling appliances? It’s a good reason to switch to sustainable alternatives, like hanging clothes to dry on your balcony, in your yard or – when it isn’t sunny and dry outside – in your laundry room or bedroom. Not only does this help Mother Earth by conserving energy, it may help you to save money. The average household saves at least $100 per year on electricity bills by switching to air-drying. For rainy days or humid months where air-drying can invite harmful mold, try using wool dryer balls. They eliminate the need for dryer sheets and fabric softener, while also reducing drying time by 30%.
6. Go flexitarian
By now, the negative impacts of the meat industry on the environment are well known. While going completely vegan might not be for everyone, swapping meat for a plant-based protein a few times a week can make a big difference on your environmental footprint. Over the past few years, plant-based meat alternatives have become more popular than ever, with improved textures and tastes that everyone can enjoy. And with a little creativity in the kitchen, you won’t even miss the beef on your cauliflower tacos or in your mushroom stroganoff.
7. Consume less and buy second-hand
Do you really need another shirt when you have five similar ones hanging in your closet? Is that phone upgrade really necessary when your current one still works? Being conscious of your consumption – from clothing and food to electronics and other goods –not only saves you money, but it helps lessen your impact on the environment. After all, it’s one less item that has to be produced, shipped and eventually discarded. When you do need something, buying secondhand can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Keep in mind that the fast-fashion industry alone generates 1 billion pounds of waste each year.
8. Turn off lights and unused appliances
Your sound system, your DVD player, your phone charger: they all use energy when they’re turned on. But did you know they also consume power even when you’re not using them? Roughly 10% of your electric bill consists of energy used by appliances that aren’t in use. Make a habit of unplugging your devices. It takes just a second and can save you hundreds of kilowatts in your lifetime. While you’re at it – turn off the lights (and air conditioning, if possible) when you leave a room.
With a little effort, becoming more sustainable in 2024 can be easy to achieve. What will you do to make a difference this year?