How to Start Making and Keeping Green New Year's Resolutions

Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions to try to become the best version of ourselves we can. Part of that may involve living a more sustainable and eco-friendly life.

Unfortunately, studies show we abandon 80 percent of our resolutions by February. Some of us might not even know where to begin when it comes to living a greener lifestyle. Making, and especially keeping, green New Year’s resolutions is no easy task, but this guide is here to help. Let’s get started.

Figure Out Your Carbon Footprint

If you’re not sure how you can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, start by figuring out the impact your current habits have on the environment. You can find carbon footprint calculators online that will help you determine which areas of your life take the biggest toll.

Some of your largest categories will likely be heating, cooling, transportation and food. A lot of these calculators will also offer suggestions for how to reduce your footprint. If heating and cooling is a big category, it might recommend lowering your thermostat by a few degrees or switching to renewable energy. If transportation is a significant contributor, you might bike, walk or take public transport to work or the store.

When deciding what actions you want to take, balance those that have the biggest impact with what you can reasonably accomplish.

Choose Specific, Actionable Goals

When choosing resolutions, it’s crucial to break down your larger goals into actionable steps. Reducing your carbon footprint is an admirable ambition, but it’s difficult to get started without an action plan. Break that goal down into steps that progressively get more specific, such as:

  • Reduce my energy consumption
  • Conduct a home energy audit
  • Improve my home’s insulation
  • Insulate my garage door by March
  • Complete research on garage door insulation by end of January
  • Contact a contractor about the project on Feb. 1

The more specific and attainable you make your goals, the easier they will be to follow through on. You should also track your progress, and if you run into trouble, see if you can change up your plan to make it more doable.

Create Accountability

You’re much more likely to stick with your resolutions if someone else is counting on you to do them. Once your establish your resolutions, tell people about them. Have a reliable friend or family member ask you about them weekly or monthly. Just knowing you have that accountability will make you want to complete them more.

You could also let people know about your goals on social media or a blog. Then, keep people updated on your progress. You won’t want to report a failure, so you’ll be more likely to follow through. Even better, get a friend to sign on to your resolution with you. For example, set a firm date and time with a friend or two for when you’ll go to the farmers’ market each week to buy local foods. This will also make it into a fun get-together that you won’t want to miss. You can create accountability with yourself, too, by marking on your calendar each day you meet your goal. Once you get a streak going, you won’t want to break it.

Keep the Benefits in Mind

Rather than focusing on how difficult it will be to reach your targets, do your best to focus instead on the benefits of getting there. Chances are there are multiple levels of benefits to your green resolutions.

If you decided to bike to work, for instance, you’ll reduce your emissions, get in better shape and save money. If you lessen your energy consumption, you’ll also help the environment while saving money. You could even track the benefits, such as money saved, weight lost or emissions avoided, as you go. Doing this will provide you with consistent motivation to keep going.

It’s a new year, so naturally it’s time for a new you. While improving yourself, you can also help out Mother Nature by making eco-friendly new year’s resolutions. Follow these tips to figure out what resolutions to set and to stay on track with reaching your green lifestyle goals.

GUEST BLOGGER: EMILY FOLK

Emily Folk
Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger covering nature and wildlife conservation efforts. We're happy to have her on the EcoDiva blogging team to help us learn more about sustainability and saving our planet, one day at a time!
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