It’s now the end of January, and many people have certainly given up their new year’s resolutions by now. If your resolution just didn’t seem to stick, or if you didn’t even make one, choose right now to make your 2019 resolution a green resolution! It’s never too late to be more environmentally friendly, and through just a few small changes, you’ll be able to make a big impact.
While many people make resolutions regarding their diet, many don’t realize that certain changes in diet could help to preserve the Earth. When it comes to your eating habits, reducing your intake of meat helps to reduce your environmental impact in several ways. According to Scientific American, all of the feed that livestock eat takes up huge swathes of land and requires (literal) tons of fertilizer, pesticides, water and fuel to produce it. These fertilizers and pesticides can harm the environment if they run off of crops and into local water supplies. Other environmental and health issues implicated with the production of meat include the improper use of antibiotics, which triggers the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the emission from cows of a great deal of the greenhouse gas methane.
While decreasing meat consumption is good for the environment, it is also good for your health. High consumption of red meat is linked to certain diseases and conditions, but eating a balanced diet with a moderate amount of red meat can be healthy. Additionally, substitutes for red meat are very accessible and tasty nowadays. You can easily swap out pork sausage for chicken sausage or beef hamburgers for turkey burgers.
Another healthy dietary change that you can make this year is purchasing and eating more locally-grown or organic produce. Organic produce is good for the environment because no pesticides or fertilizers that could run off into water sources were used to grow it, and organically-produced meat is raised without antibiotics. Organic foods may also be better for your health, according to Time. Organic meat and milk has more healthy fats, and some organic produce can have more antioxidants.
Moreover, buying local produce promotes environmental sustainability. Instead of eating produce imported from thousands of miles away using tons of fossil fuels, you can eat food grown by a nearby farmer. It’s a win-win: you get to consume fresh fruits and vegetables, and you help support local growers. Make it a resolution in 2019 to check out the Storrs Farmers Market. (It’s even open in the winter!)
This year, ditch bottled water. According to the Huffington Post, 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills, but you can help to reduce that number (and cut out the cost of bottled water from your budget) by purchasing a reusable water bottle. Not only will it cut down on the amount of plastic bottles that you use, it will also keep your water cooler. Fill it up in the dining halls or at the water fountains around campus.
Similarly, you can cut down on your use of other plastic goods. For example, resolve to use metal or paper straws instead of plastic. Be mindful this year and don’t use extra plastic shopping bags if you don’t really need them. If you do, reuse them as wet umbrella bags or as garbage bags for a small garbage can. Also, when you pack snacks or lunch, use reusable containers instead of plastic snack and sandwich bags.
You can even make some environmentally-friendly changes in terms of your wardrobe for 2019. Check out a consignment store instead of the mall when you want to buy new clothing. (The secondhand boutique Bliss is right in Storrs Center!) Giving old clothing a new life keeps it out of landfills and saves the energy that would have been used to create a new outfit. On that same note, donate, consign or “hand down” your own old clothing so that someone else can use it.
Of course, continue to be conservative in your use of energy and water this year. Resolve to cut your shower time by a minute or two to save water. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth, and do one big load of laundry as opposed to many smaller loads. Turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn down the thermostat when you go out and unplug electronics when they’re not in use.
It’s not too late to make your new year’s resolution a green resolution. Small changes add up, and you may find unexpected ways to be environmentally friendly. Resolve to go green in 2019!
Stephanie Santillo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.