Many of us make New Year’s resolutions every year, to help us achieve our financial goals or to improve our health, but not too many of us make those New Year’s resolutions for environmental reasons.
However, if you’re concerned about having a smaller environmental footprint, and saving money while you’re at it, here are 9 simple and effective green New Year’s resolutions that you can put into practice in 2015.
Some of these are really basic, such as not buying bottled water, or bringing a reusable shopping bag with you to the store, but some of them, such as going to paperless billing for your monthly bills, carpooling, or retrofitting your shower with a low-flow showerhead, might not be high on the list of effective green New Year’s resolutions, but the more people that adopt these practices, the more sustainable our world will get.
But wait, that’s not all, how about taking some Sustainable Resolutions for your Diet? or some small-change big-impact resolutions that don’t involve a crash diet or unsustainably aggressive fitness plan?
Sustainable Resolutions for your Diet
Flexitarianism is about making a gradual shift, not a complete overhaul. It is a way of eating we are much more likely to stick to for the long term — which, after all, is the point of resolutions in the first place.
1. Cook simple, unseasoned vegetables every few days.
You can steam or parboil or microwave. Once cooked, vegetables keep a long time. And then they’re sitting there waiting to top pastas and grains, to bolster soups and salads, to whip up veggie wraps or just to reheat in oil or butter with seasonings.
2. Cook big batches of grains and beans.
Because it’s nearly effortless, and having cooked grains and beans on hand at all times makes day-to-day cooking a breeze. They will keep in the fridge up to a week.
3. Buy half as much meat, and make it better meat.
Thinking of eating meat as an indulgence lets you buy tastier, healthier, more sustainable meat without breaking the bank.
4. Splurge when you can.
That way, the foods you consider special treats are truly special. For me it’s dark chocolate, meat and cheese.
5. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables.
Because out-of-season produce from halfway around the world doesn’t make much sense or taste best. Fruits and vegetables (from peaches, to corn, to squash) frozen when they are ripe are a better alternative, and incredibly convenient.
So the copious amounts of fresh produce you buy never have to go to waste. And because it tastes good.
7. Make your own hummus, bean dips and nut butters.
With those around, vegetables and fruit practically dip themselves. You’ll be filling up on produce without even noticing it.
8. Make your own condiments.
Store-bought versions of ketchup, barbecue sauce, salsa and the like are often loaded with preservatives and sugar. Besides, creating your own recipes is a blast.
9. Eat vegetables for breakfast.
You already eat fruit for breakfast, so what’s so strange? Veggie-based breakfasts are common around the world: cucumber and tomato salads in Israel, pickled vegetables in Japan, a bean and tomato stew in parts of Africa. Think of it as a très chic international trend.
10. Cook plants as you would meat.
Because bold, meaty flavors aren’t reserved just for flesh.
11. Cooking for carnivores? Make extra sides.
Let the people around you have their fill of meat while you eat a bit, but fill up on vegetables, beans and grains.
12. Cook out of your comfort zone.
Because some of the best vegetable-centric food comes from halfway around the world, where it is “food,” not “flexitarian.”
Find more tips and recipes here
10 SMALL-CHANGE BIG-IMPACT NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
1. Make an Effort to Improve your Posture.
- Educate yourself on what proper posture actually is. Check out Pilates instructor Jenn Seracuse’s blog post on this, with steps to bring you into proper alignment.
- Commit to un-crossing your legs. People who get in the habit of sitting with crossed legs are essentially training their hips, day by day, to be out of balance. To wean yourself off of it, try crossing your ankles only (and eventually sitting normally).
- Strengthen your back muscles. Group fitness tends to seriously ignore this important muscle group. If you live in New York, check out our list of the best types of exercises for a sexy, sculpted back.
- Do yoga. Yoga both brings awareness to posture and strengthens the back and shoulders (downward dog, anyone?)
2. Wake up earlier.
Check out Peter Shankman’s detailed post on this. A few of his great ideas:
- Keep a big glass of water next to your bed, and drink it as soon as the alarm goes off.
- Put your alarm clock somewhere you can’t reach it.
- Do your best to get out of your bedroom ASAP. Program your brain to know that the bedroom is for sleeping and sex only.
3. Commit to drinking green tea every day.
- Think about what time of day you can commit to drinking it. Maybe swap the second morning cup of coffee, or have a lightly sweetened iced green tea instead of soda with your lunch. Or, make a habit of reaching for a green during those mid-afternoon danger hours.
- Branch out with your greens. Have fun exploring all of the bazillion types of green tea out there – you’re more likely to stick with the habit if you remove the flavor monotony. There are even Green Tea of the Month Clubs.
4. Start a running streak.
- Partner up. We really recommend doing this challenge with a friend, because it keeps the motivation up 10-fold.
- Track your results. The miles add up and soon you’ll be really proud of yourself, a great motivator to continue.
- Sign up for a short race. If you’re someone who likes to train towards something, this is a great motivator.
- Connect to the running community. There are a ton of blogs and forums with tons of support for new runners.
5. Floss every day.
- Try floss picks. They can go anywhere and they make flossing easy. Most importantly, find a floss you like.
- Don’t worry if you bleed a little at first. Bleeding means the gums are inflamed because plaque has built up and needs to be cleaned away
- Next time you’re at the dentist, ask the doctor to give you a lecture on flossing. Hearing it from someone who’s obsessed with teeth can be extra-motivating.
6. Add 10 minutes of yin yoga to your nightly routine.
- Get started with a few of our favorite yin postures:
– Sleeping swan (also known as pigeon)
– Butterfly/folded butterfly
– Lying twists
– Happy baby
– Child’s pose (if doing this before bed, do this one last)
- Throw on a candle or 2 for ultimate relaxation, and try counting 6 breaths in, 6 breaths out as you hold the pose (thanks to Magen Banwart for introducing us to these techniques).
7. Multitask while brushing your teeth.
- Our favorite is to to calf raises. If you have an electric toothbrush that times 30 seconds for each quadrant of your mouth, you can do 30 seconds with toes facing out, 30 seconds with pigeon toes, 30 seconds on the right foot only and 30 seconds on the left foot.
- Work on your balance by standing on one of these.
- Butt squeezes and plie squats are always a good call.
- This is also a great opportunity for kegels (see next).
8. Start doing Kegels (Men Too!)
- Choose a time of day that works for you to do this. You could do them during your teeth brushing, or on the subway, or during some other mundane activity that allows for multi-tasking.
- There are apps for that (yup… might see one on our techie tuesday soon). Check out the Kegel Trainer app (bonus – the app icon is NOT a diagram of someone flexing her hooha. It’s discrete. Plus it has a “super discrete” mode so you can be using it and the guys sitting next to you won’t know).
Getting really into your kegels? Check out the Kegelmaster (like thighmaster, for your bag. Sorry boys, there is not a microscopic equivalent for you.
9. Up you Vitamin D intake.
- Go outside. You can’t actually beat the real thing (sun) so get outside. You don’t need to get burned, but hiding completely from our biggest star is more detrimental than beneficial.
- Eat vitamin D rich foods. You find Vitamin D in mushrooms, eggs, pork, salmon, tuna, sole, flounder, caviar, oysters, beef liver, and ricotta cheese (slim pick’ns for vegetarians and vegans – all the more important to monitor your D levels).
- Take a supplement. Of course, supplements are not as good as the real thing, but still good for you and better than nothing! Some milks, cereals and soy products are fortified, as well.
10. Make an effort to smile while you work out.
Curl the outer corners of your mouth upwards until your cheeks start to puff up. Hold. Repeat.
Read more details from each point here.
Happy New Year!!!
• Going Green New Year’s Resolutions that Really Make a Difference on you-can-go-green.com
• 9 Simple and Effective Green New Year’s Resolutions on ecopreneurist.com
• Sustainable Resolutions for Your Diet on nytimes.com
• 10 SMALL-CHANGE BIG-IMPACT NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS THAT DON’T INVOLVE A CRASH DIET OR UNSUTAINABLY AGGRESSIVE FITNESS PLAN on blog.rateyourburn.com
• Simple Green New Year’s Resolutions on thisbirdsday.com