By: Elaine Freeth, USAG Bavaria Environmental Division
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — At the year’s end, it is customary to reflect on achievements made over the past twelve months, and look forward to the new year with a fresh set of goals. Adding New Year’s Resolutions, could save money, time, and reduce your carbon footprint.
New Year’s Resolutions are great ways to set personal goals, and in recent decades, there has been a trend to add in sustainable lifestyle changes. These eco-friendly resolutions can be anything from creating a meal plan, to reduce food waste, to using public transportation more frequently.
Here are some “Green” New Year’s Resolutions to consider:
- Reduce packaging waste: When shopping, try to buy items with little to no packaging; Skip the produce bags; buy in bulk when possible and use reusable storage bins in the pantry; Buy larger bag of chips instead of small individual bags and use reusable containers to pack in lunches; Reduce consumption of packaged foods.
- Shop locally: Purchasing from local vendors can reduce the impacts from transporting goods while also stimulating the regional economy.
- Reduce water use: Turn off the water while scrubbing down with soap or brushing teeth; Use drip irrigation, instead of flooding garden beds when watering; use foaming hand soap instead of conventional gel soap.
- Reduce food waste: Meal plan and make defined grocery lists; Make smoothies or juice from ripened vegetables and fruits before they go bad; compost food scraps; eat out at restaurants less or only order what you can eat; Ask for smaller portions at restaurants.
- Buy and use products made from recycled materials: Make reusable rags from old clothes; Look for clothes made from recycled product; buy or make cloth baby wipes instead of single-use disposables.
- Skip the plastic: Do not use single-use items such as straws and cutlery; Invest in a reusable water bottle and carry it everywhere you go; use reusable grocery bags.
- Reduce and reuse: Buy items that serve a purpose or is durable through time and can be used to its fullest extent; shop secondhand stores or resale sites such as the on-post thrift stores and Freecylce shop; fix broken items; re-purpose materials when possible.
- Cleanup the community: As you go through your day, pick up trash you find along the way and dispose of it properly; join community organizations in their trash pickup events or plan your own with neighbors.
Setting out to learn or use new lifestyle habits can be difficult for anyone, at first. The basic framework for many resolutions require mapping out a plan, to include mini goals, flexibility, and realistic outcomes. Using a template such as this one, can make these ambitions achievable:
- Resolution: I would like to….
- Desired Outcome: I expect …
- Potential Obstacles: This may be difficult when…
- Plan of Action: Here is how I can get there… (remember to set mini-goals along the way)
With a good plan and a positive outlook, these sustainable lifestyle choices are sure to become part of a daily routine in no time.
From all of us at the USAG Bavaria Environmental Division, we wish everyone a happy new year!