It’s that magical time of year when we take stock of what we’ve accomplished and make a list of New Year’s Resolutions to (hopefully) keep in 2019. If the idea of a more sustainable lifestyle has been of interest to you, but you don’t know how to begin your journey, here’s a list to help you get started:
1. Reduce plastic waste
More than 33 million tons of plastic waste is generated annually in the U.S., causing serious harm to animals and sea life and polluting our environment. You can cut plastic waste by always remembering your reusable grocery bags, investing in an insulated water bottle, and saying no to plastic straws.
2. Start composting
Composting converts your food scraps and organic waste into soil, and can reduce your landfill-bound trash by almost 30%. Austin Resource Recovery customers can watch an online composting class and qualify for a $75 rebate.
3. Plant a pollinator garden
Pollinator gardens are beautiful, and they provide food and shelter for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, which are critical to our eco-system. Learn more about how to protect beneficial insects with tips from Grow Green and check with your local nursery to be sure the plants you use are native to our area.
4. Buy local and seasonal produce
Not only does locally grown seasonal produce taste better, it’s better for the environment because of the transportation emissions avoided. Sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), check out a Farmer's Market, or take advantage of a Farm-to-Work program if it's available to you through your employer.
5. Drive less
Consider leaving your car at home one day a week and ride the bus or carpool to reduce your carbon footprint.
6. Buy used instead of new
For a fraction of the cost of buying new things, purchasing secondhand items requires no raw materials for production, no energy costs for manufacturing, and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.
7. Switch to an electric vehicle
If you’re planning to buy a car this year, consider going electric. Investing in zero emissions transportation is critical to addressing climate change. And Austin Energy’s Plug-in Austin program offers rebates and incentives that can help.
8. Reduce the use of toxic chemicals
Conventional cleaning products contain many chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment. Consider starting the New Year with a “Spring Clean” of your cabinets and replace your cleaners with more eco-friendly products. Drop off old cleaning products at the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center.
9. Offset your travels
Wherever your vacation plans take you in 2019, consider purchasing carbon offsets that support environmental projects. ABIA has partnered with The Good Traveler for carbon offset purchases.
10. Give back
Get involved in a community project that is near and dear to your heart. Mentor a student, volunteer at the food bank, or walk dogs at a pet shelter. Make your community better through the gift of your time and energy.
Keeping resolutions can be hard, so start small and choose one or two of these suggestions to incorporate into your daily life. You’ll be on your way to a greener 2019!