With our feet firmly in 2016, we now have a chance to recover from the holiday revelry while helping to craft our new version of normal complete with some proactive adjustments for the new year. Whether it is crafting some new goals from scratch, finally implementing that routine that seemed so alluring for the past four months or dusting off the tasks from last year that didn’t last until February, the time for a new resolution is upon us. Some of us, hopefully many of us, may be etching some expectations for ourselves that include some environmental benefit. If that is true, I would offer the option of doubling down on those goals for 2016–not only push yourself to stick to them, but convince someone else to do it as well.
Without a doubt, finding new things in the daily routine that can bring one a bit closer to a sustainable lifestyle is great. Most of the cultural norms that Americans enjoy leave us with plenty of room for progressive improvement. The thing is, that if you have sustainable resolutions to begin with, chances are that means that you already know that we are all part of the problem, which means you’ve acknowledged there is a problem, which means you’re most likely already on board. It’s excellent to have you, but what the planet really needs is more participants.
The environment suffers from being a polarizing topic, often leading to the dedicated souls only becoming more active in their contributions while the naysayers become only more adamantly opposed. This leads to progress coming at a slow pace when the world needs things accomplished yesterday. It is important to remember that between the treehuggers and the Koch Brothers, there are plenty of Americans caught in the middle with no defining allegiance or stake in either side. Those are the people waiting to be convinced of the merits of a new direction.
Whatever resolution you choose to be just a bit greener this year, try to make the case to get someone else on board too. Whether it’s a co-worker, a roommate or a family member, extend the influence out to someone else to double its effect. Save twice as many resources, twice as much carbon, twice as much waste. Perhaps most importantly, twice as many bystanders will see the positive practice as a better example of something that’s probably not that difficult–something that could easily be a new normal routine for them as well. For all the buddies that give it a try, some amount of them are going to get hooked, get committed and go off to convince someone else. No matter what that percentage is, it’s worth it (especially since you will have obviously stuck to your guns and made so much progress on your own).
Need Some Resolution Ideas?
Composting Food Waste: This happens to be my resolution for 2016. A growing number of municipalities are starting food waste collection. If yours is not one of them, try composting in your back yard. With recycling and composting combined, the amount of curbside trash tends to become small, which is important given our landfill space is not infinite.
Recycle: At this point, this should be a no-brainer. Our country has been recycling long enough to make doing so easy, but for some reason there are still plenty of laggards. We have been getting better at recycling paper, and diverting e-waste from landfills has never been more important as it has become the fastest growing waste stream.
Keep the Car in the Garage: Not everyone lives in close proximity to regular destinations, but if you do, consider leaving the car and taking a walk into town instead. Lowering vehicle miles traveled may be the largest impact that Americans can make towards a more sustainable future. Again, the gas you save from driving is only added to the thanks you’ll get from your heart for the exercise.
The committed call of one can be inspiring to many, but the collective commitment of many is what will produce results.