-A guide to have an eco friendly new year-
By Natalie Henley
As we transition into the New Year, resolutions are swirling around in our minds. We ask ourselves, what will I try this year? What will be something new and exciting I can do?
Well, no need to ponder anymore, going green in 2018 will be exciting!
To make your New Year’s Eco Resolutions easy, we’ve provided this handy list. Pick as few or as many resolutions as you like! The world appreciates every step you take. Being green isn’t about being perfect, it’s simply about caring; caring for yourself, your loved ones, the billions of neighbors you have, and the countless species on our earth.
Do a Yard Makeover!
Make it Unique
From forests to wetlands to deserts, the world is made up of many diverse natural landscapes. This year, consider making your lawn replicate the natural area where you live! Add native plants and soils to your lawn. For example, if you live in the southwest region of the United States, you could incorporate local cacti and rocks to your lawn. Get creative and make it fun! Have loved ones, neighbors, and friends help with the yard makeover!
Another key thing to note is: beneficial insects are friends, not foe!
Many critical insects, including bees and butterflies, are in great decline. By making your yard a sanctuary for your local insects, you can help stabilize their population and they can help sustain your yard too! Insect hotels, bee baths, and birdhouses are wonderful things to add to your yard. Knowing your location is key to this fun and exciting change!
Taking Care of the Grass
If you have a yard that is made up of grass, consider adding more trees or plants. Try to keep grass taller, as it will stay healthier and won’t require as much water! Invest in a push mower, which will keep more carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere (we already have way too much!). If you do not want to have your own push mower, talk to neighbors about having a community push mower.
Rain and Stormwater Management
Create rain gardens on your property to help in stormwater management. If allowed in your area, capture rain in rain barrels. This water can be saved and used to water plants as needed.
Hang Dry your Clothing
No need to panic! We are not asking you to go down to the river with a bucket and a washboard like the 1800s! Simply use a rack or clothesline to dry your clothes! You can hang dry outside in your yard or inside in your home. It does not take very long to hang up your clothes and the Earth will greatly thank you! According to the Project Laundry List, “in 2007 alone, clothes dryers in U.S. homes emitted 54.72 million metric tons of climate changing carbon dioxide.” By letting your clothes hang dry, you are also preserving them for a longer period of time, since the dryer tears them up (which is what causes the lint).
The use of vehicles is causing an enormous amount of carbon dioxide to be added to our atmosphere. Walking, biking, and even rollerblading not only help our atmosphere, but also keep you healthy! Want to get active this year? Try biking or walking to work, school, and the grocery store. If you cannot walk or bike due to time or distance, carpool with friends and neighbors or take the bus. A great way to do this is by participating in the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition’s “Active Commute Week” during the summer of 2018!
Reduce and Recycle Plastic
Plastic is polluting our land, rivers, and oceans. When
plastic is weathered by wind and rain, it breaks apart into small pieces. With rough edges, chemicals can easily attach to these small pieces of plastics, causing even more pollution. These pieces can be sharp and dangerous to wildlife, as well as poisonous from attached chemicals. Many animals are confusing small pieces of plastic for food. Countless numbers of land and marine life are dying due to ingesting plastic. Plastics and chemicals are becoming more predominant in our food, as they accumulate in each level of the food chain. As members of the food chain, we cannot escape the negative effects. According to a study from the University of California Davis and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia, “roughly 25% of fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained human-made debris in their guts.”
Another issue is how plastic is created: through oil. To obtain this oil, ecosystems are disrupted and habitat is destroyed. Think about how much plastic you use daily. Consider alternatives that can reduce your plastic use. Carry a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles when you are out and about. Bring your reusable bags with you when you shop. And make sure to recycle plastics and other materials that are accepted by your recycling center.
Go Zero Waste
This term means that you strive to consume and produce as little waste as possible. It also means you try to divert items from ending up in the landfill that you are disposing of. This can include recycling, composting, terracycling, donating, and reducing. Going zero waste takes time and creativity, but is worth every second.
Support Your Local Community
By shopping at farmers markets and supporting local shops, you are lowering the distance that your items have to travel. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions and lowers the cost of travel. By keeping money invested in your local community, you are providing opportunities for your area to become a better place to live. Bonus points if you bike to these local markets and shops and use reusable shopping bags!
Many tutorials are available online on how to start a compost pile! This will help with your gardening and lawn care. Putting food scraps into the compost is much better than down the garbage disposal. Never put food down the drain, as it is not good for the pipes or the water treatment plant.
Other options are available in some locations to have your compost picked up. Per week, compost pickup usually costs about the same as a cup of coffee! Not only will this change help the earth by creating more healthy soils, but also save you money on your refuse expenses!
Host an Eco Party!
Find something you can do that can positively impact your community. Plant native trees, do a beach or street cleanup, or have a gardening workshop. These are wonderful ways to bring community members together and improve the place you live. If you want ideas, contact your local schools and colleges, environmental businesses, and environmental organizations, like WMEAC!
Detox Your Home
Many cleaning, health, and beauty products have harmful chemicals that are not healthy for you or the environment. Switching to green cleaning and care products or making your own is a much better alternative! It is easy to make many of these items. WMEAC’s green cleaning guide can be found here! Most of the items that go into eco friendly cleaning products are right in your cupboard. This will help you save money too!
Get Creative and Use Your Talent
Each of us are unique in our own wonderful way. We all must contribute our talent, ideas, and efforts to make a positive impact on our planet. Whether you are young or old, a business person, an artist, a doctor, a scientist, a mathematician, a parent, a child, a teacher, or an employee, YOU are needed! You can make the difference! You can create, implement, and impact! You can help heal the world!