6 Pollution-Reducing Resolutions for a More Sustainable 2023
Below are 6 Pollution-Reducing Resolutions for a More Sustainable 2023 that we can all make to build upon the growing green momentum of the previous years.
Estimated Read Time: 9 minutes
In the past few years, we’ve all experienced a myriad of tumultuous events. 2020 will always be remembered for the effects of the COVID-19 global outbreak and the resulting economic recession found millions of workers across the country suddenly unemployed or asked to work from home.
But weathering this historically stormy period has left us with a silver lining that could lead to brighter days for our planet. With a reduction in people traveling for leisure, or commuting to work, less fossil fuel was and still is, being burned each day. As a result, the country witnessed a dramatic 9% drop in annual carbon emissions, making 2020 the “greenest” year on record in the U.S.!
Life has pretty much returned to normal at this point, but there are still a variety of new behaviors that linger from COVID-19. Whether you’re working from home, cooking at home more, or doing new outdoor hobbies, the way we go about living our daily lives is different and we’re all (hopefully) more conscious of how our behaviors affect the planet.
Below are 6 Pollution-Reducing Resolutions for a More Sustainable 2023 we can all make to build upon the growing green momentum.
1. Know Your Waste
For most people, there’s a complete disconnect between their garbage can and the garbage dump. It’s easy to become detached from the contents of your trash bin, but being more mindful of your waste begins by not being mindless about it. The convenience of modern-day municipal waste disposal makes it almost seem like our junk magically disappears every morning after we drop it off at the curb to be picked up. Of course, we all know this isn’t the case. Even if they were to show up in a top hat and tuxedo every week, your garbage person can’t just make your 4.5 pounds of average daily waste vanish into thin air. Out of sight may keep it out of mind, but the trash you create hardly means out of harm when it comes to the planet.
The sobering reality is that a majority of what you discard ends up in landfills or littering the landscape, to the detriment of the environment.
Sustainable living requires familiarizing yourself with everything you throw away. Perform a home audit of all your plastic possessions.
- Pay closer attention to what you take in and what you toss out.
- Learn how your waste impacts the environment by poisoning our air, water, and soil.
- Learn how pollution (from waste) kills marine life, depletes forests, and destroys ecosystems.
There’s no shortage of alarming facts you can find online that will scare you environmentally straight, but the more educated you are about your rubbish, the likelier you are to make better decisions this year.
2. Consume Less
The average American produces 1,073 pounds of waste annually. That amounts to a whopping 254 million tons of garbage generated each and every single year in the U.S. alone! And when it comes to waste, what you see is not all you get. On average, behind every pound of trash you throw away is seven unaccounted pounds of “upstream” production-related waste. And the moment you toss it out, it’s destined to dish out some “downstream” damage to the planet. So, as bad as a quarter billion tons of annual trash may be, we still need to consider its upstream and downstream impacts to get a complete and accurate picture of the environmental havoc it will cause.
Cutting down on your individual waste is paramount for a more sustainable year.
3. Say No to Plastic
If you take a quick look around your home, you might be surprised at just how much plastic you have lying around. You may not even make it past your kitchen, before realizing you just might have a plastic problem. Plastic waste makes up roughly 20% of landfill material, and America’s reliance on plastic products is a huge reason for that. Nowadays, nearly any disposable plastic item you would ever need can be easily replaced with an eco-friendly alternative at places like ZeroWasteStore. Yet, single-use products still exist, and mass consumption of plastic disposables remains one of the biggest pollution problems we face because they are widely thought of as “easy and cheap.”
- Is the convenience of a single-packaged plastic item really worth the high environmental cost?
- Does the lower price tag for a cheaply made disposable product really save you money if you will inevitably (and indefinitely) have to replace it?
The truth is convenience does not equal clever consumption. And low-cost does not equate to a quality product. Yes, sustainable swaps are designed to save the planet, but they are usually much more durable to ultimately save you money.
4. Drive Less & Travel Smarter
Man-made climate change is one of the most serious issues facing humanity today, and reversing the trends that are contributing to it may be crucial to our very survival. But one thing that the Covid-19 shutdowns had shown us last year is that when our roadways and airways are emptier, our air becomes much cleaner. Transportation accounts for more than half of the air pollution in the U.S., creating negative effects on the planet, our health, and our quality of life. According to the EPA, motor vehicles cause 75% of carbon monoxide pollution. It is also estimated that one-third of the smog-producing pollutants, as well as 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions, come from on-road vehicles (pre-pandemic).
It’s easy to mindlessly jump in your car and drive down the street to get to work, the store, or the park. But if your destinations are within a reasonable distance to do so, try walking, jogging, or biking instead. Challenge yourself to try it out for one month. You may find yourself enjoying a little extra time alone with your thoughts – and inches off your waist! If you can’t make a trip on foot or by bike, hopping on a bus or another form of public transportation can reduce your individual carbon emissions.
If traveling is unavoidable, and reducing your trips isn’t possible, you can still do your part by purchasing carbon offsets that support environmental clean-air projects, to neutralize the impact of your journey.
- Make a list before you go shopping to help you cut down on unexpected trips.
- Instead of flying home every holiday, maybe go on just the most important ones, or maybe go every other year.
5. Support Green Businesses
One of the most effective ways to support the planet is by supporting green businesses that support your green habits, such as ZeroWasteStore or even your local farmer’s market. Unlike large manufacturing operations that are driven primarily by profit, most small green businesses are made up of like-minded individuals that share the same passion for the planet as you do. They are the sustainable little Davids to the wasteful billion-dollar Goliaths that dominate the market. But by spending your money with green businesses, you help sustain their existence. And in turn, they help sustain your zero waste lifestyle.
In our consumerist society, in which supply and demand ultimately steer market trends, you can vote for the future you want to live in with the money you spend. So every effort you make to erase your waste by spending your money at a green business sends a loud and clear message that sustainability is in demand. And from the way many large companies have responded over the years, by cleaning up their act and offering greener options, you can rest easy knowing that your money is being well spent.
6. Stay Motivated
The environmental facts and statistics you’ve read in this blog is enough to give you a general idea of some of the monumental challenges that we are up against. It took generations of collective recklessness to get us into this mess, and it will take the same collective energy to get us out of it. While it may seem overwhelming at times, what’s most important is for you to stay focused on the small changes you can make in your personal life to help heal the planet.
The state of modern-day environmentalism is proof that a single pebble really can produce a tsunami. What were once mere ripples, made from a few pockets of groups and individuals scattered around the world not long ago, have now grown into what has become this giant green wave washing over the world today. And this is because of dedicated souls, just like you, who truly understand that every small decision can make a world of difference. So in order to stick to your green resolutions this year, continue to be inspired, stay motivated, remain educated, and educate others on the benefits of sustainable living. Refuse to be a problem, and resolve to become the solution. 2023 is the year your changes make a difference!
Lastly, remember we’re all in this together. We know the majority of the responsibility lies with corporations and governments, but your small actions (and ours as well) do matter. It matters to the people watching you, the people who look up to you, to the small businesses you spend your money with, and to society at large that you’re willing to go the extra mile and support an environmentally friendly business and product.
Make those pollution-reducing resolutions for 2023! We’re here to support you, and do it with you, the whole time!
Other Blogs You Might Find Helpful:
- The 10 Green Commandments
- Starting a Zero Waste Lifestyle: A Beginners Guide to Going Zero Waste
- 26 Sustainable Terms & Definitions To Help You On Your Sustainable Journey
- 3 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Food Waste At Home - And How To Actually Do Them
- The Hidden Cost Behind Convenience: Why Supporting Small Businesses Matters