A New Year Of Sustainable Habits

Every year millions of people create New Year’s Resolutions.  This may include becoming more physically fit, saving money, taking a trip, finding love, etc.  Everyone has different aspects of their lives they want to improve and goals they want to achieve.  A New Year’s Resolution that may resonate with many is the idea of becoming more sustainable.

You may be surprised as to how many aspects of your life this topic influences.  But I know what you’re thinking, how do I become more sustainable?  Well, let’s look at the some of the many ways you can become more sustainable, healthier, and more connected to the local community.

1)      Use Less Plastic

Every Year, Americans use Approximately 102.1 Billion plastic bags, creating tons of landfill waste.  Plastic bags do not biodegrade.  Light breaks them down into smaller particles that contaminate the soil and water and are expensive and difficult to remove.  Unfortunately, less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year.  Re-usable bags are cheap and stylish.  Once you get into a routine of consistently using them and not leaving them in your car when you buy groceries, you’ll find this method very practical.  So, the next time you’re at the cash register and the cashier asks you, “Paper or Plastic” you look straight into his/her eyes and say…neither.

2)      Recycle! No Seriously Recycle!

The average American throws away about 4.5 pounds of trash every day.  Beyond taking part in recycling paper, plastic, and other materials at your local dump or transfer station, try to think of ways that you can cut down on other waste. Try saving leftovers to use in new and creative ways or challenge yourself to cook well-portioned meals.  This helps save money and decreases the amount of trash you have to deal with.  This could be the year you finally try and create a compost bin.  They’re easy and simple to make such as the one in this video.  This is very beneficial for your yard (especially gardens) because the soil that is produced is rich in nutrients and is also much cheaper than using chemical fertilizers.  If you’re interested in starting a garden this year, the Eat Your Yard working group explains the easy and beneficial process of sheet mulching.

3)      Use a Re-Usable Water Bottle

Similar to the point said earlier, the United States goes through 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour and only one in four are recycled.  That’s enough plastic water bottles to circle the Earth’s equator 5 times.  Many of us don’t realize it, however, drinking bottled water takes a toll of the environment and potential harmful effects on our health.  In order to meet the US plastic bottle demand, about 17.6 million barrels of oil are required.  Getting into the habit of carrying a water bottle reduces waste, saves money, and promotes hydration.  Staying hydrated promotes cardiovascular health, cleansing toxins from your body, and boosts energy levels. Please check out this quick and informative video about the life cycle of bottle water.

4)      Eat Organic and Become a Local Food Advocate

Find local farmer’s markets and support your local community.  There are around 9 separate farmers markets in the Kearsarge Valley Area.  Many farmers’ markets begin in May, but there are winter markets in some towns as well. For example, the New London Market on the Green Winter Market, which is located on Seamans Rd, New London.  To find markets in the area follow this link to the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association.  You don’t have to completely transition to eating just organic food, but make a realistic goal.  Perhaps make a scheduled visit to a market once a week and buy one good.  This is a great way to become involved in the local community, learn healthy practices, and enjoy delicious food.

5)      Use Less Water

According to a study performed in 2012, the average American uses 2,842 cubic meters a year.  This equals out to approximately 625,000 gallons of water.  To put this into perspective, an Olympic size swimming pool holds typically around 660,000 gallons of water, and all of that water is being used annually by just one person (on average). Using less water not only relates to taking shorter showers and washing dishes by hand, but also to the products and food we buy.  It takes on average 1,800 gallons of water to produce a pair of pants.  Think about what you buy this year.  Become aware that everything we buy requires water and other natural resources. Shopping smarter can reduce the misuse of resources, reduce waste or clutter in our lives, save us money, and in some small way, help save the planet too.

“Sustainability is a new idea to many people, and many find it hard to understand. But all over the world there are people who have entered into the exercise of imagining and bringing into being a sustainable world. They see it as a world to move toward not reluctantly, but joyfully, not with a sense of sacrifice, but a sense of adventure. A sustainable world could be very much better than the one we live in today.” 

-Donella H. Meadows, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update


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