It’s a new year, a new you, and the billion year old earth just completed yet another trip around the sun. As Earth begins a new journey around our star, many people start a new journey – a New Year’s Resolution. By this time into the new year only 72.6% out of the 146 million American who make a New Year’s Resolution, are still committed to their goals. If you are part of the 210 million Americans that have already given up or did not make a resolution, I have just the goal for you! This year make a commitment to help out the environment by making every day easy changes or participating in a larger event. These 10 environmentally conscious resolutions are steps forward to making 2017 a better year for you and the environment.
#10 Make your backyard wildlife friendly
As urban expansion consumes more natural areas, it poses risks to wildlife and surrounding habitats. Make your backyard a sanctuary for wildlife by planting many types of native vegetation. Having a variety of plants will attract different types of wildlife such as small and large mammals, pollinators, and birds. Create a water feature to provide a drinking source and an oasis for amphibians. With dwindling frog populations, the ponds can become breeding grounds where your family can watch the 4 life stages of toads and frogs.
#9 Organize a trash pickup or park clean up
Even though littering is illegal, there is still plenty of trash scattered along roadways and in public parks. Each year, states spend millions of dollars in litter removal. Not only does it look unsightly, but it also pollutes the environment. By getting a group together to clean up litter you can save tax dollars and the ecosystem from unwanted waste.
#8 Change your eating habits
Walk into the supermarket and you’ll see produce that is not in season is still available. When buying out of season produce you are not supporting local producers supplying markets. Plan meals around in season products to support locally sourced produce, which in turn boost local economies. Also, by choosing local ingredients you are buying products that tend to have less packaging waste and take less energy to produce and transport.
#7 Create a compost pile
Don’t throw leftovers or scraps away, compost them! With our landfills being stuffed full, one way to reduce your waste contribution is by composting unwanted food. Composting not only saves the landfill a load but also creates great fertilizer for gardens.
#6 Conserve water
Is your toilet constantly running or sink leaking precious drops of water? A leaky toilet can cost you an extra $70 a month. Fix your home’s running toilet and dripping faucets. Making these small repairs can save you money on your utility bills. Americans use 80-100 gallons of water per day. By cutting down your shower time, you can conserve water for the environment.
#5 Reduce your carbon footprint
One of the highest carbon emitters are cars. Carpool or use public transportation such as the bus, subway, or light rail as an option to get to destinations. This reduces the amount of harmful emissions and reduces congested roads. Another option is to bike for local trips; break a sweat while getting in shape and helping the environment.
#4 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Still using disposable water bottles? Every year it takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce disposable water bottles. Invest in a reusable water bottle to reduce your contribution to the plastic piled landfills. If you have unwanted items lying around don’t throw them out, donate the items or have a garage sale. Need something? Instead of buying new, opt for a second-hand store or find it used on a swap-meet website.
#3 Don’t buy products made from illegally harvested animals
Ivory is pretty, when it’s on the animal it belongs too. Do not buy or support business that sell products made from illegally harvested animals. Poaching has a greatly negative effect on animal populations and the environment.
#2 Participate in local environmental programs
Many environmental agencies and organizations put on programs for the public. Nature centers, visitor centers, and local parks host environmental education programs for the public. You can learn about wildlife, how to do an outdoor sport, or go on a guided hike. And most of the programs are low cost or free!
And the #1 thing you can do this year… VOLUNTEER!
Join in on the volunteer efforts around your community. Many parks, refuges, and conservation areas have volunteer Friends groups. Refuge Friends is the National Wildlife Refuge System’s citizen group which was started back in 1903. Now, there are more than 200 Friends groups, and 10 more being added each year. These Friends groups are crucial to the Refuge System’s collective mission to conserve and protect the wildlife of the nation. To find a local Friends organization near you go to https://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/find.html.