The new year is a great time to dream of a better future. This is a time when we can all be optimists and readily commit to resolutions that bring us closer to the people we want to be and the world that we would like to exist in. Together with our personal goals for 2017, we thought that we would also make some "green" resolutions that will help us attain our goal of creating a better tomorrow, not just for our children, but for our children's children.
1. Shop Local
Shopping locally is one of the best green resolutions that you can make for 2017. Apart from supporting your local economy and the businesses that are part of it, there are also many environmental benefits associated with shopping close to home. You reduce greenhouse gases by making a shorter trip to the producer or retailers, as well as allowing them to minimize their carbon footprint by shrinking their shipping needs. Think of all the trucks your actions could be taking off the busy highways!
2. Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
If you are looking for low hanging fruit that makes a big impact, bringing your own shopping bag is for you! There are plenty of functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing options out there, and many of them can be folded and stored in even the smallest places, like your purse or pocket. Since we have not yet figured out a way to efficiently recycle plastic bags, you would be reducing waste that couldn't otherwise be eliminated. In our shops, we offer paper bags which are more environmentally friendly however, we would love to see more customers come with their own unique shopping bags.
3. Avoid Fast Fashion
Making good decisions with our clothing purchases is another great way to be green in 2017! Fast fashion is all about selling "trendy", suspiciously cheap, poor quality garments that we don’t need. By buying more expensive but well made items that we can wear for many years, we can minimize the waste that poorly made clothing turns into. Furthermore, if you spend a little more on that skirt, you're more likely to get it mended if it does happen to wear down a bit. Let's not fill our landfills with clothing, even when we think that it has reached the end of its use. There are companies like Preloved that repurpose old sweaters and shirts into new items, and you can always use parts of used clothing for cleaning and more.
4. Use Chemical Free Cosmetics
In Ontario, we are lucky to have an abundance of natural areas, beautiful lakes, and even waterfalls. It should really inspire us to think about the products we use in our everyday lives. Most of us use a range of cosmetics on a daily basis, from creams to makeup and more. However, not everyone takes a second to analyze the impact of their choices. Choosing commercial products, often laden with chemicals, parabens, and other (excuse the honesty) junk, not only has the potential to enter our bloodstream and harm our health, it also ends up going down the drain and into the rivers and streams that we enjoy so much.
5. Use a Water Bottle
Drinking plenty of water daily is the best way to stay hydrated and healthy, however, your choice of container should also be healthy for the planet. Most of us are well aware of the immense environmental cost plastic bottles carry, and we've been transitioning to more sustainable solutions. However, lets try to go 100% plastic bottle free this year, meaning that we have access to a reusable bottle in all the key areas of our lives – our gym bags, our workplaces and at home! Lets set a good example!
6. Green Cleaning Products
Just like our cosmetics eventually end up down the drain and in our natural systems, cleaning products have been wreaking havoc on the environment for years. From affecting water ways, to eventual bioamplification in the species who have habitats around them, the harsh chemicals in traditional cleaning products need to be eliminated. Whether you decide to substitute them with natural alternatives you cook up at home or alternative products made by sustainable brands, the new year is a good time to quit chemicals cold-turkey and start thinking about how our everyday habits affect the greater community.
7. Cut Back on Paper Towels
Using paper towels on a daily basis seems like a small vice compared to some of the bad habits people have. However, did you ever think that all that paper towel ends up in landfills, even 13 billion pounds of it every day? Instead, get a set of soft cotton cloths for cleaning up messes, and when you do feel the need to use paper towel, throw it in the green bin when you're done with it instead of in the garbage.
8. Use a Bicycle to get Around
We all know that using a car to get around town is not optimal for our health, nor for that of our natural environment. This year, keep the car in the garage, and instead walk or use your bicycle to travel to close destinations. We know that traveling sustainably with a family can be difficult, but by instilling the importance of active transportation like walking, rollerblading, or cycling, you teach your kids an important lesson in being a responsible steward of the earth.
9. Replace Lightbulbs
Did you know that an energy efficient light bulb can use up to 80% less energy than that of a traditional bulb? So when you hit the lighting section in the hardware store, don't get scared of the price difference. Not only will your utility bill shrink with this smart adjustment, the LED bulbs are long-lasting, meaning that they don't need to be replaced anywhere near as often as your traditional options do.
10. Dry Your Laundry Smarter
Drying clothes in an electric dryer uses up a lot of electricity. If you want to do something that's good for the planet this year, make a commitment to drying your clothes more efficiently. If you have the space, you can consider air drying in your home or yard. This could be difficult to do if you do a lot of laundry at once or can't wait for it to dry naturally. When using a traditional drying machine, don't forget to throw in some ULAT wool dryer balls. They will drastically shorten your drying time, as well as your utility bill.
Some of these green resolutions are one-time projects like changing your bulbs, while others are habits that require dedication, patience, and time to form. Remember that you are not alone, and that there are many of us here that have the same dreams as you. If we all collectively work together, we might see the results more quickly that we would have thought.
Happy 2017 from the Mrs. Greenway Family!