10 Ways to Make the 20’s Sustainable
10 Achievable Resolutions for Sustainability in the New Decade
There is an abundance of optimism when new decades roll around – our resolutions are made with exuberant conviction, personal goals are loftier, we see the blank slate of a decade before us while the past ten years is a palimpsest of learning moments, erased and overwritten with trials and errors and successes to build upon. So often our good intentions go the way of best laid plans, but this decade in sustainable practices we are building on a surge of strength that is no longer the “hippy environmentalists” counterculture. Environmentalism is mainstream: in the streets with Greta Thunberg and the student movement, on the streets in hydrogen buses and electric vehicles, and above the streets in the power lines increasingly fueled by renewable resources. Here are 10 ways you can help environmentalism move from a mainstream movement to a way of life.
1. Understand your limitations and set goals that you can meet.
Just because the path to a cleaner future is slowly being paved by good intentions, everyday practices can quickly turn into every-once-in-awhile practices before they turn into everyday habits. Setting achievable sustainability goals for yourself is more important than dream goals; it’s highly unlikely that you can set out on a global campaign with world leaders a la Greta Thunberg, but you can pressure your favorite take-out place to switch to sustainable packaging. Have a family meeting and list your dream goals for a sustainable future, then break those down into smaller achievable practices. Putting intentions on paper or speaking them aloud makes it more likely you will act on them.
2. Think Local, Act Local.
Even though the internet has made the world feel small, it’s still pretty big. Yes, there is a gigantic continent of trash floating around the Pacific Ocean. Yes, clear cutting in the Amazon is an enormously serious problem. But what can you really do about those things? A lot, actually, but it has to start in our local communities. The path to global sustainability starts at home. Don’t put the pressure of saving the world on your shoulders, that is a burden too heavy for anyone to bear, instead think about helping your community transition to a fully sustainable one. Every community that reaches new levels of sustainability puts the global community one step closer to where it needs to be. Talk to your neighbors about how to create a more sustainable neighborhood, then transition that into a goal for your city. Ask your local restaurants to compost their organic waste and use sustainable service ware, and don’t support businesses that don’t support the environment.
3. Read More
And not just Harry Potter. Read about what businesses and laws are impacting your city and state environment. Support businesses and lawmakers that are committed to a sustainable future. We often feel powerless in the fight for sustainability, but successful advocacy starts with knowing the framework in which to make change. State bills are tedious and confusing, but they often dictate what industries move into our communities and how they operate. Spending a little time keeping track of bills and laws in your community will make you a better advocate for sustainability.
4. Exercise More
Walk to the restaurant. Ride your bike to the store. The average American drives 29 miles each day. It’s not always feasible to leave the car at home, but its a safe bet that at least 10% of our driving time could be replaced by walking or riding bikes. That’s 1,058 miles per year per person or 695 MILLION miles for the U.S. population over 18.
5. Pick Up a New Hobby
Gardening is fun, and growing your own food is a truly magical feeling. Starting a garden from scratch can seem overwhelming but your not eschewing all modern comforts, just growing some fresh tomatoes for the summer table. Chances are someone you know is an avid gardener and will jump at the chance to help you get started with your project. Green America has a bunch of great tools and tips for starting a sustainable garden in your home or neighborhood.
6. Get Out More
2019 saw a rise of climate protests, were you at any of them? Protests are one great way to bring awareness to issues our local communities deem important and ignored, but there are many opportunities to make your voice for sustainability be heard. Attend city council meetings, policy maker town hall events, even your Homeowners Association meetings and talk to the leadership and your community members about the importance of sustainability and conservation. E-mails and tweets to lawmakers are great, but a handshake and look in the eye is harder to ignore.
7. Eat Better
You don’t have to go full vegan to be more sustainable, but your diet does effect the environment. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to alter your diet to help both you and the planet. Cut down on meant, and when you buy meat make sure it’s from a local, sustainable source. Incorporate vegan meals into your routine: start with two vegan meals a week, then build to two vegan days a week. but remember, just because it’s vegan doesn’t make it sustainable, and vice versa.
8. Support Small and Local Business (especially Farms). Supporting local farms and shopping at farmers markets and local businesses cuts down on greenhouse gasses from shipping, helps create and sustain a local economic framework, and is just a more pleasant way to be a consumer. We may not be able to get everything locally made, but that doesn’t mean we have to get everything on Amazon either.
9. Get a Pet…or a Thousand
Not a dog or cat, though those are perfectly wonderful. You want a pet that earns its keep. Worms. Red Wigglers to be exact. A red wiggler can eat it’s body weight in food every day, and the best part? They eat garbage. Well, not any garbage, but food scraps of all sorts. And they reproduce like crazy. Starting a worm compost bin is easy, requires little attention, and can cut your landfill waste enormously. If the having thousands of squirmy pets in your home is just beyond your comfort zone, then find your local composting facility and take your organic waste to them. Food waste makes up 20% of our landfills where it gets trapped and creates methane gas that is 28 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.
10. Get out Further
Go camping. Hike a new trail. Visit a National Park. Take a picnic to the river. Anything to remind you exactly what it is we’re trying to save. The world is a beautiful place but it’s easy to get caught up in the anger about the ways we have found to destroy it. It’s just as easy to step outside and clear your mind and see the trees for the forest once again.