Don’t waste this blank slate. A new year is a great time to reflect on your patterns and make some positive changes. Whether you want to start slow or gung-ho, these five tips will help you reduce waste and clean up our shared space in 2023.
Grow a Garden
Putting your hands in the soil is one of the best ways to show Earth you care. Don’t worry if you don’t have any outdoor space; plenty of plants can flourish inside. Ferns and Aglaonema, for example. Ideally, your corner of growth would get sunlight, water, and attention from you. For those new to gardening, consider starting small with some succulents. They only need to be watered twice a month and come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever you grow will sequester carbon dioxide out of the air, leaving you with a cleaner and greener space.
Did you know that nearly 40% of all food in America gets wasted? That’s about 119 billion pounds each year. But you can change this by starting a compost bin. Inside or outside, it doesn’t matter as long as you follow this simple rule: two parts carbon-heavy “browns” (newspaper, dead leaves, paper towels), and one part “greens” (fruits, veggies, grass clippings, or coffee). If you have the right ratio, the microorganisms will thrive, and the odor will be non-existent. You’ll know it's working when the scraps turn into damp soil. To speed up the process, add a little water and rotate the pile every once in a while. Once it’s ready, you can mix the soil in with your garden to bolster biodiversity. Quick note, meat, bones, and dairy products don’t decompose in the same way, so it’s best to keep those products out of your pile.
Cut Back on Meat
Livestock farming accounts for 14.5% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. This industry, while well-loved, emits copious amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) – a perfect cocktail for climate change. Even eliminating one meat-based meal a week can make a big difference in the grand scheme of things, especially if you get your friends and family to do it with you. Bonus, plant-based eating is linked to longevity, so it’s really a win-win for you and Earth.
Shorten Your Shower
It is critical, now more than ever, that we conserve our water supply. This resource has always been a luxury, but it's rarely treated as such. Cape Town has already become the first city to run out of drinking water, and we don’t need this trend to continue. About 8 liters of water is used per minute in an average shower, so if you trim your time by just two minutes, you can save over 4 gallons each time. That adds up to a positive impact and a safer world for us all.
The number one item in our landfills? Paper. It’s easy to fall in love with paper towels, but there are other ways to keep your kitchen and hands clean. Switch to a biodegradable brand to get all the benefits and none of the issues. Especially if you throw them in the compost bin when you’re done. While you’re on a roll, incorporate additional eco-friendly products. The market is full of natural dish detergents, bamboo hand towels, and guilt-free laundry essentials. Take your pick, and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
If any of these tips appeal to you, don’t hesitate to get started. Earth needs our help, and the more we give, the more we’ll get back. Cheers to a clean and healthy 2023!