Being more environmentally friendly in 2015

(Photo: John Britt)

(Photo: John Britt)

Have you made any New Years’ resolutions yet?

The New Year is a good time to think about our priorities for the coming year and how we can make a difference. Here are some ideas for things you could do to become more environmentally sustainable during 2015.

1. Buy less and shop more consciously.

We buy many things that we don’t need, that just become waste very quickly or that take a toll on the environment without improving our quality of life. By shopping more consciously, we can reduce our impact on the environment. When shopping, ask yourself:

  • Do I really need or even want this?
  • Can I hire it instead?
  • How long will it last?
  • Can I borrow it from someone instead?
  • Will it make me happier? Really?
  • What will happen to it when I no longer want it?
  • Do I really need a plastic bag with it?

You could also

  • Avoid throw-away or single-use products
  • Share rarely used tools or resources (e.g., a trailer) with friends or neighbours
  • Get things repaired
  • Buy things made from recycled materials (if recycling is to be effective there needs to be a market for products made from the things we recycle!)
  • Buy things with as little packaging as possible
  • Support small local businesses rather than large corporations
  • Buy organic or local produce
  • Join a local exchange (or energy) trading scheme (LETS)
  • Avoid plastic if possible and plastic carry bags
  • Take your canvas bag.

Here are 10 other ideas to help reduce your consumption.

2. Reduce your energy use.

There are many ways we can reduce our energy use. Some things don’t cost anything and may only involve changing our habits. You could try:

  • Turning off lights and appliances
  • Setting a higher temperature on the air conditioner in summer and a lower one in winter
  • Putting on warm clothes or using a blanket rather than turning on the heater
  • Getting rid of a second fridge (or at least only turn it on when you really need it)
  • Using a clothes line instead of a clothes dryer
  • Turning off standby power
  • Only using cold water in the washing machine.

Some actions may involve a small financial outlay such as:

  • Buying eco switches to make it easier to turn off TVs or computers
  • Buying energy efficient light globes
  • Draft proofing doors and windows
  • Buying a lamp to use instead of inefficient lights.

There are also some things we can do that could cost quite a bit but could make a large difference. For example:

  • Replacing standard down lights with LED
  • Installing a solar hot water system
  • Installing insulation in your roof, walls and/or under the house
  • Ensuring you only buy energy efficient fridges, air conditioners, TVs, dish washers etc.

3. Change to 100% Green Power.

(Photo: Ulf Bodin)

(Photo: Ulf Bodin)

If everybody who had thought about buying 100% green or renewable energy actually did so, it would give a huge boost to the renewable energy industry and help the transition to a post carbon future. And by installing a photovoltaic system (solar panels) you can generate your own renewable energy.

4. Become more environmentally friendly in your eating habits.

The way our food is produced, distributed, purchased and consumed can have a big impact on the environment. In order to reduce you impact, you could:

  • Eat less meat
  • Eat more organic food
  • Buy local
  • Eat sustainable fish
  • Avoid bottled water
  • Join a food cooperative
  • Buy less processed and packaged food
  • Focus on food that is in season
  • Try not to over cater, in order to reduce food waste.

5. Grow more of your own food.

Corn from the gardenNot only can home grown food taste better and use fewer resources, but growing our own food can also help us (and our children) to develop new skills, to become more conscious of what we eat, and to be aware of what foods are in season. You could:

  • Start a vegetable garden
  • Grow herbs or vegetables in pot plants
  • Join a community garden
  • Start a compost bin or a worm farm (to use on your vegetable garden)
  • Preserve or bottle produce you grow
  • Swap home grown food with your neighbours.

6. Reduce your car use.

We often use the car out of habit. Up to 50% of car trips are 2 km or less, (most of which could be done by walking or cycling) and many of us have public transport options we don’t consider or use. To help change some of your habits, you could

  • Ask yourself, “Do I have other options?” before jumping in your car
  • Explore public transport routes (particularly to places you go to regularly)
  • Get some exercise by walking or riding rather than taking the car (Do you ever drive to a gym?)
  • Plan your travel so you can do multiple tasks in the one trip
  • Walk, ride or catch public transport with your children so they don’t become totally reliant on the car
  • Car pool.

7. Help your work become more sustainable.

If we have a job, we have a responsibility to be environmentally friendly at work as well as at home. In order to make a difference at work, you could:

  • Explore energy and water saving habits or devices
  • Help improve waste management
  • Raise sustainability at team meetings
  • Promote the use of recycled products
  • Print less (and when you do make sure it is double sided)
  • Explore how to reduce air travel (e.g., using Skype meetings rather than in person).

8. Make your holidays more environmentally friendly.

By a riverHolidays are wonderful, and they don’t need to cost the earth. Some things you could try include:

  • Holidaying locally rather than overseas
  • Camping in a national park
  • Helping your kids to develop a love of nature
  • Using public transport for local trips
  • Supporting environmentally friendly tourist operators.

9. Become active.

Not only do we need personal change, but we also need political and social change. You could help by:

  • Joining an environment group
  • Supporting online campaigns
  • Attending a rally
  • Signing a petition or writing a letter
  • Voting for political parties with strong environmental policies.

By being more aware of our impacts on the world, thinking more consciously of how we live and consume, and changing some of our daily habits, we can all contribute to a more sustainable world.

What New Year resolutions have you made?

If you liked this post you might want to follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Parenting for a better world
  2. The paradox of inconsequence
  3. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  4. What is the Transition Streets Challenge?
  5. What is Kids’ Vegies on the Verge?


About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Environmental sustainability and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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