I am sure that most of you have heard the reports from the IPCC, the UN, and the USA on the state of the planet and Climate Change. They ALL have stated that we have come to a point that we NEED to change how we live on this beautiful planet – our shared home. The outcome from the COP24 in Poland was not promising. I have put together a comprehensive list of New Year’s Resolutions for a Green Future since it looks like you and I have to do the heavy lifting here.
The New Year is a good place to start new habits, make commitments, and to reflect on the past and the future.
New Year’s Resolutions for a Green Future
- Be an Activist/Advocate for a healthier future. Join a group (or more). Get out on the streets when invited to stand with like-minded people. People that are concerned about the future of their children and the biosphere. There is little time to change where we are at. We need to get mobilized and to let governments and businesses know we need change NOW. When you see a call out to stand up for a better world please come out and bring all your friends.
- Talk with people about Climate Change and greening the future. When we have conversations we can learn things, we share solutions, we share our grief, we share burdens, we pool our resources, etc. Talking is good and action is much better.
- Write to your member of parliament, your MLA, your city councillor, etc. and any other political you think needs to hear from you.
- Talk, write, phone, email a business/organisation/institution that you want to see improve their environmental performance. It could be the city buses idling longer than you think they should, a store that gives out free plastic bags, an office building that leaves their lights on all night, a store that sends out flyers on a continuous basis, etc. They do respond to input from citizens and customers.
- Don’t idle your vehicle. Your vehicle does not need to be warmed up. You might like the passenger cabin to be nice and warm, or cool in the summer when you get into it but it really is a big waste of fuel. If you idle your vehicle only 5 minutes twice a day for 6 days that works out to one hour of pollution and money being wasted – needlessly.
- Turn it off when you don’t need it. This is everything electrical – lights, monitors, computers, fans, etc.
- Make your home more energy efficient. Weatherproof your home – put weather stripping around your doors and windows, caulk where needed, put up plastic or glass storm windows, etc.
- Change the way you commute/mobility. Take transit as often as you can (it could be once a week), walk or bicycle instead of driving, telecommute, etc.
- Eat Less Meat. You could make a habit of eating animal products/meat once a day or participate in Meatless Monday. Meat has a very heavy ecological footprint.
- Reduce or eliminate animal-derived products from your diet – milk, cheese, eggs, etc.
- Grow your own food. It doesn’t really matter how much but that you grow something. Ensure all wastes are composted in your backyard (no seeds and diseased plants though).
- Compost in your backyard.
- Air dry your laundry.
- Take fewer airplane trips.
- Add compost/organic material to your soil because this way you are not only feeding the soil you are sequestering carbon. See my post about this.
- Water is Energy and has a climate footprint. Water is heavy and it needs to be pumped to your home after being treated. This whole process uses a large amount of energy. Use water as efficiently as possible. The toilet is typically the number one consumer of water in our households. Flush when it is needed – When it is yellow, let it mellow. When it is brown, flush it down. To save water when you do flush, you can use a water efficient toilet. Showers/bathing are also large users of water in our homes. Change fixtures to more efficient ones. When you do your laundry only wash in cold water and as close to full loads as possible.
- Grasscycle. As grass grows it takes nutrients from the soil and puts it into the blade of grass. When we cut the grass and leave the cuttings on the lawn this provides nutrients for the soil, shade for the ground, moisture, and food for soil critters. When you send your grass to the landfill you will be using fossil fuels embodied in the plastic bags and the fuel for the truck to haul it away. Some people then go out and buy synthetic fertilizers to feed their grass so it grows.
- Record and track your fuel, energy and water use. Try and reduce your consumption.
- Buy or invest in solar, wind power or some other form of renewable energy source but first – be resource efficient in your life. Become a Negawatt, negagallon, etc “producer”. The best watt is the one not produced.
- Replace any incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs but don’t forget to turn them off when not needed. If you are wasting energy in an efficient bulb compared to wasting energy in an inefficient bulb – it is still wasting energy – albeit, less.
- Plant trees – fruit trees are good to plant as well.
- Plant perennials.
- Reduce your plastic footprint. Refuse single-use plastic items. Take your own shopping bags with you, refuse straws, refuse packaging that is single-use – like at a restaurant, coffee shop, etc. Buy bulk and reuse your own containers and bags. Join Waste-Free Edmonton so that we can show the city council that many people are concerned about this issue. Sing onto the support for a single-use strategy to reduce our plastic footprint.
- When building – try and use wood since this is stored carbon and the carbon is being sequestered in the structure. Metal and plastics take more energy and resources to manufacture. Hopefully, the producer of the wood is planting new trees to replace the harvested ones since young trees absorb more carbon on an annual basis than older mature trees (this is not a suggestion to cut old growth forest).
- Buy a set-back thermostat for your house or business so that at night or when you are at work it will automatically reduce the temperature in your space and turn up the heat before you get up in the morning or when you return home from work. Or you can just get into the habit of doing this manually. Our top temperature in our home is 18-19C and overnight and when we are out it is turned down to 16C.
- REUSABLES – this is going to be a big thing this year. Reusable shopping bags, reusable straws, reusable travel mugs, reusable water bottles, reusable plastic substitutes (like beeswax wraps, silicone ‘Ziploc’ bags, metal and glass storage containers, etc), reusable produce bags
- Packaging Free/Bulk. When you go to the grocery store for your food take your own containers/bags with you and REFILL them. This will eliminate the packaging and you will be reusing a resource (your container/bag). If you take a container then ask the store if you can get a ‘tare’ weight on it so that weight can be deducted from the final weight. There are other stores in the city (other than us) that do this – like Bulk Barn.
- Replace your lawns with Food Crops. Climate Change Garden/Climate Victory Gardens.
- Consider having fewer children. Population growth is one of the greatest threats to the viability of the biosphere. If a couple only has two children this is called zero population growth. If they only have one then that would be NPG (negative population growth). This one is rarely on the lists but it needs to be on every one of them. It is the elephant in the room. We also need to share birth control information and products with people in other countries and to support their health care systems so that they are not having children to care for them in the old age.
No, not a popular list but a list that addresses lots of issues. I do and say things because I believe them to be right. People look to me and the store for honest information and products. I am honoured bound by that trust that people have in me to share this information with people. With you.
Check out Drawdown for a thorough list of big and little things that our governments, businesses, and citizens do to make effective actions to rise to meet the Climate Change Challenge.
There are a couple of groups that are shaking it up and trying to get real action to be taken immediately. Extinction Rebellion, The Climate Mobilization, Climate Strike, the Green New Deal/Sunrise Movement, are just some of the newish initiatives that are pushing the conversation along and demanding big changes.
Check out the speech by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg. “We cannot solve a crisis without treating it like a crisis”. She is really inspiring and is saying what needs to be said. It seems that every Climate Summit we have, there is one or two young people that embody hope and clarity of what needs to be done. I do hope that Greta is the bellwether of the change that needs to come.
If the climate predictions are even remotely close to what the scientist are predicting then it is going to impact every one of us. WE need to step up and demand action and to take action. It will be uncomfortable, to begin with – stepping out of line with your friends. co-workers and family but you know it is that or be party to the faction that delayed effective action on an inevitability.
You might notice that I did not include recycling. Recycling is good but Reducing, Refusing, Reusing, Refilling, Rethinking, etc are so much better. We cannot recycle our way out of the mess we have created. Recycling makes people feel okay about consuming because – hey, it is recyclable. Don’t fall for it.
You can drop by the store and pick up a free copy of “Keeping the Heat In” which is a great resource to make your home more energy efficient. You can also download a copy from the NRCA site.
I am sharing this before the end of the year because you might like the list to think about whether you might want to include some of them in your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions(s). 2019 – bring it on!