Here are some easy ways you can green up the new year. Try them all or a handful. As long as you try something you'll be making a difference.
1. Say No to Plastic Grocery and Shopping Bags
Bring your own reusable bags everywhere. I always keep a small cotton bag in my purse, and a couple bigger bags in my car. I also plan ahead to bring a bunch with me when I go grocery shopping or shopping at the farmers market. Not only does this save you money (most stores charge 25 cents per bag) it's also fun and customizable. You can design your own, or just buy some with designs you like. I have bags covered in cactuses, or with logos from sustainable business I support, or from places I've traveled.
If you're already using plastic grocery bags try and use reusable produce bags too. They are easy to find and light weight.
2. Say No to Plastic Bottles
This means more than just water-bottles. Most of us already bring a reusable plastic bottle for water but still buy pop and other drinks in plastic. Let's all try and avoid all plastic bottles if we can.
There are metal, plastic and glass options available. You can easily find a bottle that can fit your needs. I have a plastic bottle that rolls up that I use for travelling, a small metal one I bring in my purse, and many more. I change them depending on where I'm going (will it fit in the cup holder of my car?) and how long I'll be gone (all day = a bigger bottle).
3. Plant Something
Growing something means more CO2 being brought into the air and the soil. You could make a vegetable garden so you really know where your food comes from, a flower bed to make things prettier, an herb garden to spice up your meals, or a houseplant to make some clean inside air. Whatever it is, growing a plant can make you feel closer to nature, which is good for encouraging you to go greener.
4. GoodBye Straws
We use thousands and thousands of straws, and they're almost all made out of plastic. It's easier than ever to avoid them. Plastic straws are perfect for people who need them but for the rest of us it's an easy thing to replace.
5. Go to the Farmers Market
At the farmers market you'll find so many great local vendors, and you can actually see the person who grows your food. You can ask them questions and often they have great tips for cooking new foods. You can find produce, cooked food, baked goods, meat, cheese, milk, yogurt, eggs, candles, soaps, honey, seamstresses, and it goes on.
6. Change One Part of Your Routine
This could mean changing your bed time routine so you use an organic toothpaste, getting sulfate free shampoo, using locally made soap, or using zero-waste lipstick. What ever it is, pick one small thing you do everyday and change it for the greener.
7. Buy Something Sustainable and Ethical this Year
One way to convince yourself to become a greener person is with a reward. I know the minimalist zero-wasters wont be a big fan of this one, but it will work. We like new things. Pick one thing like organic fair trade coffee instead of your usual, or shampoo bars instead of plastic bottles. If you turn going green into a gift to yourself you might stick to your resolutions this year.
8. Shop Mindfully
I know I just told you to buy something, but you really should be buying less. It's hard. Try and buy things you really need or really want. When you do buy something buy the version that is the best for the planet and the people making it. Also buy something that will last.
9. Eat Less Meat and No Factory Farmed Meat
Eating meat is a tricky subject, but we all know the less of it we eat the healthier we are. If you want to you can participate in veganuary or just eat less meat. If you do eat meat, make it ethical. Spend more on good quality meat. If it doesn't cost a lot than you know its from a factory farm that does not treat its animals well. An animal died so you could eat it, so we should at least take care of them well before that. The farmers market or a local butcher can be a good place to start.
This also goes for eggs. You can tell just by looking at an egg yolk if the chicken was treated well. The deeper and more orange the colour the better treatment the chicken had. A happy free-range chicken actually produces an egg with more nutrients! That's just crazy. So make sure your eggs come from happy chickens, and your meat comes from happy animals.
10. Replace One Item with a Sustainable Version
This means things like switching from a disposable razor to a safety razor, switching from normal printer paper to sustainably sourced paper (certified wood, bamboo or sugar cane), or plastic wrap to beeswax wraps. There are a lot of options here so find a need in your life and swap it.