We’re in the thick of the holiday season, and the countdown is on for New Year’s resolutions. Ahead of the “new year, new me” social media posts, take a pause and think about your holiday wish list. Reflecting on how this year ends can give you a healthy, positive jump start into the new year.
2019 has been shaped by a lot of awareness on issues surrounding the environment. The Holiday season offers an opportunity to take stock of what we have – the people in our lives and the beauty and complexity of our natural world. Build on this happy momentum as you head into a new year!
If living healthy and having a more eco-friendly home is something you value, here are actions you can take this holiday season to bring with you into the New Year as your New Year’s goals.
Realistic, Simple Ways to Live Healthy and Be More Eco-Friendly this Holiday and into the New Year
1) Leave wishes out of recycling and become a better recycler.
An eco-friendly future is one where we divert waste from the landfill, not fill it up by accident. And this starts in your home.
Waste management may not be the sexiest topic surrounding a healthy, more eco-friendly lifestyle, but it is an important and simple one. While we’ve been taught it’s important to recycle, it’s even more important to recycle right. Especially during the holiday season when more shopping and gifts amount to more new things in the home, it’s important to know how to properly dispose of your materials.
Most people think they’re good recyclers because they toss everything in the blue bin, under the assumption their local facilities will recycle all of it or sort them. This is called wish-cycling: wish-cycling is the primary poor recycling habit that harms recycling programs. Non-recyclables like greasy pizza boxes can contaminate recyclable items, making them unfit for recycling and sending batches of recycling to the landfill.
So, stop wish-cycling! “How?” you ask.
Memorize your municipality’s collection requirements!
Or, more realistically, use an app that tells you exactly what does and doesn’t belong in recycling, like Recycle Coach. Check what services and information we have for your municipality and download the app from the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store. Bonus: it even sends you reminder notifications of when to put out your garbage, recycling, yard waste, depending on your municipality’s requirements and schedule.
For everything else that you can’t avoid throwing out or procuring in the first place, think about reusing, repurposing, composting, donating or even selling the items before tossing them in the garbage.
2) Include more vegetables in your grocery list.
We can’t have a list about living healthy and more sustainably without a nod to good ol’ greens. Aside from vegetable production emitting less greenhouse gasses than meat production, did you know that consuming vegetables leads to feeling fuller longer while still packing fewer calories?
Protein-rich, high-fiber items like beans, peas, and spinach achieve two goals at once: 1) you will support agriculture that produces less harmful emissions for the planet 2) while keeping up with your household’s nutritional needs.
If you have a large group to help feed this holiday season, add more vegetable dishes in the menu to help fill your guests while remaining within budget and staying on a healthy course.
If one of your new year’s resolutions includes weight loss, continuing to include more vegetable dishes in your menu helps too! Vegetables typically have fewer calories, after all. And because we often will choose what is readily available to satiate hunger, having vegetables and fruits on hand means you will be more likely to reach for them instead of unhealthy snacks and food items.
(Disclaimer: we’re not prescribing one diet over another, just that the act of adding more veggies to your shopping list will be conducive to the goal of living healthier and being more eco-friendly at home. Happy eating!)
3) Enjoy the outdoors more!
What better way to be environmentally friendly than to be friendlier with the environment? Being outdoors – even just going for a walk – is a simple way to live a healthier lifestyle, while also fueling your mission to be more eco-friendly at home and outside of it.
This holiday season and beyond:
- • Get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
- • Feel refreshed and inspired just from spending twenty minutes in the open air.
- • Improve your memory and restore mental energy.
- • Relieve stress by going out in nature!
The holidays can be a stressful time for many because of the many obligations and social expectations emphasized during this season. A simple walk amongst trees can help bring down your stress levels. It also is an ideal place to ask for quiet and peace from relatives.
After your guests have gone home, being outdoors instills in us our interconnectedness with nature. It reminds us why it’s important to dispose of plastic straws properly in the first place and why to reduce, reuse, and recycle right at all. When you embrace your place in our natural world, you’ll find it can do wonders for your health. This Holiday and for your New Year’s resolution, this can be an easy goal.
4) Choose natural alternatives to clean your home.
Whether it’s cleaning in preparation for a holiday dinner or for your New Year’s resolution, it can be beneficial to review your cleaning products.
Here are simple and natural alternatives to harsh cleaning solutions for a more eco-friendly home.
- • Want a fresh smelling kitchen? Instead of using air fresheners, drop cinnamon sticks in a pot of boiling water and let the scent fill the space. What a way to greet guests into your eco-friendly home this holiday!
- • Baking soda is cheap and an all-around cleaner, polisher, and fungicide.
- • White vinegar is a great cleaner, with important disclaimers. Tip: Water-stained sink? Plug the drain and fill it with a mixture of warm water and vinegar. Let it sit for a bit before rinsing and wiping it dry.
- • Lemons and grapefruits are good for spot-cleaning copper-bottom pots and pans and fixtures. Lemons are also good for cleaning glass.
Even products that are advertised as “green” or “natural” can contain ingredients that are irritants if not outright dangerous. They can contribute to respiratory problems, allergic reactions, headaches. A clean home should not be at the expense of your health or the health of our planet.
The environmentally friendly solutions above come with minimal packaging, so less garbage and recycling are required. Also, you’ll be avoiding the use of harsh chemicals that don’t break down during treatment after going down the drain can enter waterways and pollute aquatic wildlife.
Know any more eco-friendly at-home solutions for keeping your home clean? Leave them in the comments.
5) Avoid personal care products that contain toxic ingredients for gifts or yourself.
Whether for gifts or your own vanity table, you can choose personal care products that are more eco-friendly and friendlier to healthy living.
Here are a few common ingredients to watch out for and avoid:
Microbeads are polyethylene (read: a plastic substance) scrubbing beads used in exfoliating facial and body washes. Microbeads give the illusion of a more satisfying exfoliation because of the texture. Once washed away from your face and body, these tiny plastics go down your drain and into the oceans, where they pollute aquatic life.
Preservatives BHA and BHT commonly found in lipsticks and moisturizers have been linked to aquatic life death and genetic mutations in amphibians. In humans, it can be an allergen and has been classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer among other issues.
Triclosan is often found in antibacterial products like hand sanitizers, soaps, and even toothpaste. When washed down the drained to our waterways, it has been linked to cases of biochemistry change in amphibians, fish, and even plants! In your journey to healthier living, it can be harmful in increasing antibiotic resistance, meaning an increased seriousness of infections.
Make it a habit to read the label and recognize toxic ingredients to avoid. There are more ingredients than the above listed to avoid; on the bright side, there are even more solutions to natural alternatives that support your goal of healthy living and a more eco-friendly home!
This Holiday and into the New Year…
The holiday season can be a fun, festive time full of gifts and events. It can be easy to indulge and even think to yourself that you can make up for less healthy and less eco-friendly habits when the new year comes. But adopting new good habits can start everyday! Instead, use the holiday season as a springboard into a healthy and eco-friendly new year.
Have fun and good luck on your holiday festivities and on keeping your New Year’s resolution!
Got New Year’s resolutions related to the environment or your health? Tell us your new year’s goals and how you’re planning to achieve them.