Written by Jennifer S. Li
The last couple weeks of December right before the new year always feels a bit more nostalgic and sentimental: it’s hard not to think of the highs, the lows, the good, the bad, and, of course, the resolutions to do better next year. For us, we want to keep finding ways to balance our modern lifestyles in a manner that is in harmony with the planet that has given us so much. If you’re looking for ways to enact a more mindful lifestyle in the new year, we’ve compiled a list of six simple eco-friendly New Year’s Resolutions—start with one, or tackle them all!
1. Give up disposable plastic straws.
Plastic straws require precious limited resources such as water and fossil fuels to create, are tossed after a single use typically for just a few minutes, then clog up landfills for 200 years—the equation simply doesn’t add up. Plastic straws are also a contributing factor to the huge problem of microplastics: scientific research shows that the fish we eat, the water we drink, the table salt we sprinkle, and even the beer we chug are riddled with harmful microplastics (Source: NPR). If you must have a straw, consider sipping with one of our glass, metal, or bamboo straws or our backyard compostable natural hay straws.
2. Give up disposable, single-use, plastic utensils.
Single-use plastic utensils are also a major factor in the deluge of microplastics in our oceans, drinking water and marine life. The Ocean Conservancy has identified plastic cutlery as among the deadliest of ocean trash, as it is mistaken for food and ingested by seagulls, sea turtles, and seals. Consider stashing your own set of utensils in your purse or a combo 3-in-1 spork with spoon-fork-knife functions in your car or pocket.
3. Bring your own produce and tote bags.
The Ocean Conservancy also counts plastic bags among the deadliest of ocean litter—one in three sea turtles has plastic in their stomachs, due to the fact that they see plastic bags as delicious food as opposed to the dangerous hazard that they are. This year, resolve to remember the sea creatures and always keep a stash of reusable tote bags and produce bags handy.
4. Give up paper towels.
It’s fair to say that Americans are devastatingly addicted to paper towels: Americans spent $5.7 billion dollars on paper towels in 2017, and disposable paper products account for more than a quarter of landfill waste (Sources: The Atlantic, Treehugger). It’s time to cut the habit! Pick up a stack of reusable rags at the hardware store, cut up old towels you already have at home, or divert some of that $5.7 billion dollars into a nice set of towels for the kitchen that can be used over and over and over again. We also recommend our Three Bluebirds Swedish dish cloths, which in a single swoop replaces 17 rolls of paper towels, and when done can be backyard composted.
5. Bring your own to-go coffee cup.
Imagine bringing your own takeaway cup to the coffee shop each morning—that one single reusable cup, mug, thermos, or mason jar could replace the more than 16 billion disposable coffee cups that end up in landfills each and every year. To create these throwaway cups, 6.5 million trees, 4 billion gallons of water, and enough energy to power 54,000 homes are used (Source: Earthday.org). And don’t be fooled by so-called compostable cups—while we appreciate the attempt to be more eco-friendly, these are only compostable in industrial facilities, which means if you’re tossing them in the regular old waste bin, it will break down just as slowly as any other piece of trash. In addition to helping to save the environment, you’ll also save some money since most coffee shops offer discounts when you bring in your own cup.
6. Swap out your tired plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush.
Did you know that every single plastic toothbrush ever created since their invention in the 1930s still exists out there in some form or fashion (Source: National Geographic)? Switch to a backyard compostable bamboo toothbrush for a dental hygiene routine that makes your smile, our planet, the new year and our foreseeable future all look a little brighter.