15 out-of-the-box eco-friendly resolutions (for any time of year)
You know to bring your own straw or say no to plastic ones. You’re probably in near proximity to a reusable water bottle. You know to compost (or are already doing so), and you’re actively working on reducing your single-use plastics.
So what’s an eco-minimalist to do when it comes to taking next steps, or setting eco-friendly resolutions?
I’ve put together a list of 18 eco-friendly new year’s resolutions that are “out-of-the-box” that go beyond the normal ideas you may find. There’s nothing wrong with those – they’re needed too – but this post is not that.
Because you’ve done this before (this being eco-minimalist living), you know to take things slow, and to not try and implement all these things at once!
I also know that not all of these things may be applicable for you at this season in life, and that’s OK. Maybe they’ll be useful for a friend, or for you at a later date.
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So, without further ado, let’s dive into 18 ‘out-of-the-box’ eco-friendly resolutions (for any time of year):
Talk about it
In 2022, I attended a series of workshops hosted by an organization called “Talk Climate to Me”. It was so awesome, I signed up a second time, and then a third time.
If there is one thing I took away from the year it’s that there are many of us out there that are concerned about the state of our planet, yet, we’re not talking about it.
The workshop helps break down climate topics so that they’re much easier to talk about and leaves you feeling hopeful instead of overwhelmed.
If this sounds like something that would be a good fit for you, you’re in luck, because I’m hosting a one-hour condensed version of those workshops next month!
If you only do one thing on this list of eco-friendly resolutions, it should be this.
The more I’m in the eco-minimalist space, the more I’m convinced that community is everything (and if you don’t believe me, this article from The Conversation is amazing).
The thing about building a community is that it takes time and energy. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Are the efforts worth it? Absolutely.
Do the benefits go beyond tackling the climate crisis and other issues our society faces? You bet.
The great thing is that a community can consist of so many different aspects of your life – your kids’ school, your neighbors, your friends, etc. It can also be online, on social media, a book club..the list goes on and on.
And if you’re not sure where to start? That’s OK!
I have a quiz that can help you determine your sustainability personality. After getting your results, you’ll get a list of potential activities you can start doing. And while it won’t tell you exactly what you should do, it will get your wheels turning.
In order to live sustainably, it has to be sustainable for you. I’ve been saying it for years and I’ll say it again!
Part of this whole “sustainability thing” has to include self-care. Don’t roll your eyes – I’m not talking about it in the ‘buzzword’ type of way. I’m talking about mental, emotional, physical…all the things.
If you’re burnt out, you’re not going to have the energy to do the things you want to do. And I know you care about the future of our planet – or you wouldn’t be here!
I’ve got an entire post on this topic with actionable ideas you can implement, so I won’t dive in here. You can find the post and tips here: Sustainable self-care: 7 ways to fill up your cup in an eco-friendly way
Utilize libraries – all of them
I know you know about the book library, and possibly even free little libraries around your neighborhood or at local businesses.
But have you ever done a search for other types of lending libraries?
Back in my home city of Minneapolis, there is a toy library, art library, and a tool library.
I have also heard of book libraries loaning out state park day passes, games, puzzles, household items, and more.
If you haven’t done a local Ecosia search in a while, this is a quick eco-friendly resolution you can tackle in just a few minutes. And who knows, you may find something new!
Search for toy libraries via the link below (note: not all toy libraries are listed, so it’s still worth doing other research if one doesn’t pop up here for you):
Try a buy nothing week/month
If reducing consumerism isn’t on the eco-friendly resolution list, am I even an eco-minimalist content creator?
I know some people dive all in and do a whole buy-nothing year. That seems incredibly overwhelming to me, personally, but if it works for you, go for it!
Basically, a buy nothing month (or week) is a period of time when you buy…nothing. The details of these challenges vary depending on each person’s situation because no one can tell you what a necessity is or isn’t.
To me, the overall goal is to really be aware of our consumption over perfection. Of course, saving money is always a bonus.
An Ecosia search is your friend here for inspiration.
Host a swap
If you are more of a goal-type of eco-friendly resolution setter, this is it – your year to host a swap!
It can be as extravagant or casual as you want. I’ve done ones just between friends all the way to community ones.
I’ve got a post on hosting a toy swap (but the tips are applicable for any category) which you can find here for more information. The post even includes actual invite wording examples since I know that can sometimes be tricky!
If you have any questions about hosting a swap, don’t hesitate to ask!
Regularly clean out your digital inbox and photo storage
Did you know that each email and photo our devises store have a carbon footprint?
Individually, it may not be a lot, but it adds up quickly.
This article from the BBC does a great job of breaking down the environmental impacts of our web activity.
Plus, on top of reducing your digital carbon footprint, decluttering our digital spaces can have a positive impact on our mental health.
Swap to a bee lawn (or at least turn part of your lawn into a pollinator garden)
For 2023, I’m challenging you to go beyond the pollinator garden for a next-level eco-friendly resolution.
I want you to rip out your sod, and plant a bee lawn, native plants, shrubs, or trees, or put in a rain garden.
Yep, I’m serious.
Typical lawn species of grass are NOT native, and they require a lot of resources – including water, chemicals, and our time to keep it in ‘tip top’ shape.
If ripping out the entire thing seems overwhelming, as always, start small.
For resources, I would recommend checking out your local County Extension office or Master Gardener program.
Reduce your recycling
It’s becoming more and more evident that recycling isn’t a sustainable solution, and won’t be in the future. It’s expensive, and it’s resource intensive.
It took moving to a place that doesn’t offer curbside recycling to realize just how much recycling my family and I produce each week. And let me tell you, it’s a pain in the butt to have to haul it to the local recycling center, but we do it.
Look for one or two ways you can set an eco-friendly resolution and aim to reduce your recycling this year. Maybe it’s buying in bulk to reduce packaging, cutting out junk mail to reduce excess paper that comes into your home, or finding ways to reuse those glass jars.
Look for free home energy audits
Have you ever had your home energy audited? It may sound scary, but it’s actually super helpful.
Basically, someone who is trained in saving energy (don’t know the official term) walks through your house with you in person or virtually, and helps identify areas where the energy efficiency could be improved.
For example, they can test if your windows are super drafty, and provide tips on how to fix that (this is a super simplified example but you get the drift).
These days, there are many organizations that offer this service, as well as some energy companies, and local utility companies.
An Ecosia search or reaching out to your local energy company or city municipal is a great place to start.
Start a reusable birthday party bin in your community
One thing I have on my eco-friendly resolution list is that I’m hoping to start a reusable party bin in my community. I first heard about this from Jen Gale, author and founder behind “Sustainable(ish)”, when I interviewed her for the Raising Eco Minimalist podcast.
Basically, you put together a bin with reusable plates, napkins, linens, silverware, cups, and anything else you think would be a good fit. From there, you can partner with an organization or operate it yourself, but either way, get the word out in the community that people can rent this bin.
The rules behind it vary from place to place, but that’s the gist.
In the podcast episode, Jen mentions that she’s heard of some areas charging as a fundraiser for the local PTA, as an example.
We talk all about it in the episode linked above if you’re interested in learning more!
Stop paying for water
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, more than 90 percent of a typical bottle of cleaning product is simply water.” (source)
If we stop to think about that, we’re paying extra to manufacture water, transport water, and a larger container to hold the water and cleaner.
Luckily, there are now companies that sell refillable cleaning items – the tabs that dissolve in water are some of my favorite – because I can use my own container! Plus – it takes waaaay less space to store tablets or refills than multiple bottles.
The same can be true for some cosmetics and toiletry items too, so don’t forget to do research there.
I write more about eco-minimalist cleaning supplies in this post here if you’d like to learn more.
Stop funding fossil fuel companies (banks/investments)
Here is another big item on my eco-friendly resolution list – and that is to start switching my banks and investments away from fossil fueling funded banks, and into companies that are more environmentally or socially conscious.
I’m still in the process of researching companies and weighing all my different options, but once I do, I’m planning on putting together a comprehensive resource guide for you, so stay tuned.
Until then, here’s a great guide on different “green” banking options available.
Another great resource is Bravely Go, a blog and YouTube channel that covers sustainable finances.
Learn more about PFAS
You’ve probably heard about microplastics, but if not, a good 2023 eco-friendly resolution would be to learn about them!
Another up and coming concerning topic that you may be hearing more about are PFAS.
PFAS are an acronym for a super long name that umbrellas thousands of different plastics. PFAS are also known as forever chemicals, because they last forever.
A common source of PFAS are in items such as teflon, scotchguard, stain and water repellent fabrics, etc. Sources that may not be as widely known are airports, firefighting foam, and military bases.
The most common type of contamination occurs in drinking water.
If this all sounds bad, yes, it is. These chemicals are called “forever” for a reason, and while scientists are working on ways to remove PFAS from water, the solutions thus far are energy intensive and expensive.
This article from BBC is a great introductory article to PFAS if you’d like to learn more.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
The last out-of-the-box eco-friendly resolution is maybe one of the hardest – and that is to practice getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This is something that I am constantly working on, and as I said, it’s hard. But it’s a skill that not only can help within the eco-minimalist lifestyle, but also in all areas of our lives.
This article from Psychology Today offers some good, actionable tips.
These 15 eco-friendly resolutions are perfect for the start of a new year, but can also be done any time of year.
Remember, start slow – pick one or two you can easily implement and commit the time and energy to before trying to take more on.
Which one is on your list this year?