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January 2020: New Year, New You: Resolving to Do #OneThing4Earth

Date: January 20, 2021

Halfway through January and the big question is: How are those New Year’s resolutions going? Some of you have entered the third week of the month still going strong with your self-improvement promises, and surely others are quietly deleting their earlier Facebook posts proudly proclaiming their “New Year, New You” expectations.

No matter which category you fall in, it’s not too late to commit to one thing to change that can make a difference in your life, in your community and in the environment around you. It’s much easier to follow through on a promise of self-improvement if you start small. Think about the #OneThing4Earth campaign from Earth Day last April – an opportunity to pick one small act that would make a positive difference for the environment. If you missed it or have let that one thing slip, you can make your #Onething4Earth your 2021 resolution. Or perhaps you can add another resolution to bolster your impact.

Perhaps one of the following ideas will be something you can incorporate into your life?

Backyard composting
This typically falls in the “It would be nice, but I don’t know if I can” category, but this could be the year to prove how easy it can be. It is probably one of the most impactful small changes you could make by reducing the household waste that goes into a landfill. Food scraps can be collected in any type of airtight container (large coffee containers work great) on the kitchen counter until full, and then dumped into a backyard compost bin. There are also farms and some regional composting companies that will accept your household scraps if you can’t have a bin in the backyard. This Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association flyer has much more information, as does the EPA website.

Ditch the straws
Beaches, and the critters that use them, are major repositories of plastic straw pollution. On just one day in2016, nearly 800 plastic straws were found on Hampton Beach at the annual coastal cleanup. Embrace the #SkiptheStraw lifestyle. Skip the straw when you go to a restaurant or bar, or use plastic straw alternatives, such as paper straws, or reusable glass, metal, or silicone straws. Learn more about Trash Free Seas and the damage done to oceans by marine debris.

No more plastic bags
Of course, most use of plastic bags comes from grocery and retail shopping, so making one or two slight changes to your shopping habits would drastically reduce your plastic use. Bring your reusable tote bags to the grocery store, and skip the plastic produce bags. The produce you pick out can go directly in the cart and then into your bags. At retail stores, you can again bring your own bag or choose not to get a bag at all if the purchased items can easily be carried out without one.

No idling while waiting
Let’s face it: In the cold winter months, idling your vehicle while waiting to pick up your kid or spending a few minutes before a scheduled appointment is a comfort. However, idling your vehicle for just 5 or 10 minutes can generate quite a bit of air pollution and waste gas. Consider committing to turning off your car every time you are waiting in a parking lot – prepare by bundling up (even keeping an extra jacket or blanket in your car for these times) or hop out and do some laps around the lot while you wait.

Reduce your junk mail
Want to curb the amount of paper waste coming out of your home? Easiest place to start is reducing how much junk mail you get. The great thing about this one is that often it takes just one step up front; you don’t even have to build it into a lifestyle habit. Options of opting out of junk mail can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website. Do you still get phone books? There’s an opt-out website for that, too.

Make your own home cleaners
Buy some vinegar, lemons and baking powder and set out to replace your home cleaners with nontoxic alternatives. This will make a difference for you and your family, but also helps to reduce plastic pollution when you stop buying the cleaners in plastic spray bottles. Need some DIY recipes? We have plenty in our Alternative Household Products fact sheet.

What are some other small commitments you could make? Let us know by tweeting with the hashtag #OneThing4Earth and tagging us @NHDES or let us know by sending an email to [email protected]. One small step can become a new, positive lifestyle habit!