The coming of the New Year symbolizes putting another year behind you and looking ahead to the future. According to Psychology Today, the most popular New Year’s Resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more and quit smoking. I think it’s time to switch things up (although, these are all great resolutions if you’re really committed to stick with them). This is a great year to get the whole family involved in some resolutions that will have a far-reaching impact.
Following are some New Year’s Resolutions that the whole family can take part in:
Recycle— It’s troubling to think that many people do not recycle anything—data is limited at best, but a 2007 Harris Poll reported that approximately 23% of American’s do not recycle. If you already recycle, then that’s great. But, are there more items you could be recycling? Many towns offer recycling as part of their weekly pick-up. If you go to your town’s website, there is often a link under the Sanitation department that lists the items that are accepted in your area. Recycling Revolution also offers a helpful flyer that you can put on your fridge to help you remember which items can be recycled. In 2012, why not choose the items you are not already recycling and add them to your list. If you want to get the whole family involved, you could put each person in charge of a different category—they could police that category to make sure everything gets recycled that can.
Reusable Grocery Bags—You have them, so why aren’t you using them? If you’re anything like me, after getting the kids out of the car and into a shopping cart, you’re lucky if you remember your purse, let alone reusable shopping bags. This year, I will put my son in charge of remembering the bags. I find young children have amazing memories and when you give them a job, they take great pride in doing it well. I’m sure it will be rare that my son lets me lock that car without our reusable grocery bags. Your impact on the environment will be great if you switch to reusable bags. According to Squidoo, one set of reusable bags could eliminate the need for more than 20,000 plastic bags throughout one person’s lifetime. You could break it down for yourself over a year—how many plastic bags do you bring home a week? (Don’t forget double bags!) Take that number and multiply it by 52 (weeks in a year). That easily works out to more than 500 plastic bags a year that will never be recycled!
Shut things off when leaving a room— My son has a tendency to leave lights on all over the house, I’m hoping that by including him in this resolution and maybe even making him the “Light Police” we can encourage him to start shutting off lights when he leaves a room. Turning lights and appliances off when they’re not in use DOES make a difference. According to the Home Energy Conservation Project of Louisiana, a joint project between the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the University of Southwestern Louisiana, approximately 20% of all energy used in the United States is for lighting and about half of that is wasted on “careless” consumers and inefficient lighting.
Change the way you consume products— Instead of buying, why not borrow or rent items? If you know your neighbors or have friends and family close by, then borrowing is a great option for those rarely used items. Whenever we host large parties at our home, we borrow tables and chairs from neighbors, family and friends (those people will all be at our party anyway). Do you have a library card? Rather than buy books all the time, you can borrow them. In fact, some libraries even let you borrow e-books now for your e-reader. You could check with your local library to see if they offer this service. It doesn’t stop with books and tables, though. There are companies now that you can actually rent toys from. I think this is great, especially for younger babies, since they outgrow toys so quickly. There are several companies that offer this service with different options on whether you pay a monthly fee for a set number of toys or if you pay per toy. Some of the companies that offer this service are Toygaroo, Baby Plays, Toyconomy, and My Busy Bucket.
If every family chooses at least one of these resolutions for the New Year we can begin to soften our footprints on the Earth and leave it a little better off for future generations. And don’t give up on your resolution if it doesn’t come easily. If you continue to work at it, by 2013, your 2012 resolution will be a habit you can be proud of.