They say it is best to take one step at a time to reach a goal. And if your goal is to make the planet a better place, it is best to start 2023 with green resolutions and commitments. Promises to keep rather than make and forget.
Resolutions can be personal as well as social — both good for you and for your family. These small actions you initiate will translate into being beneficial for the community, the country, and the world at large.
It is best if your resolutions are simple and effective. Here is an easy-to-do list that will assist you in sustainable living.
Resolve never to use plastic bags that litter our cities and forests, clog our storm drains, and pollute our rivers and oceans. This is not an easy task. It is natural to forget to carry a reusable bag each time you go out shopping. To help you remember, it is best to stitch or invest in several cloth bags — one hung near the main door so that you can grab it when venturing out. Another one can be kept in your vehicle or in your office drawer. These days you get reusable bags that are are small enough to fit into your pocket.
Resolve to use public transport as much as possible rather than wasting precious fossil fuel on your private vehicle. Again, this is difficult when it is so convenient to get into your own vehicle. But by making this choice you will not only be saving fuel but contributing to improving air quality. Human beings inhale around 14,000 litres of air every day and if it is polluted, it badly impacts their health and leads to respiratory diseases. Air quality also affects the country’s economy as it results in high medical costs, loss of productivity due to illness and high infant mortality.
Bad air impacts the environment adversely as pollutants settle on the land and water bodies. Some pollutants are responsible for climate extremes as they have a warming or a cooling effect.
Resolve to buy less clothes, especially fast fashion garments that are inexpensive but are discarded in no time. According to estimates, 57 per cent of discarded clothing end up in landfills. And when these get full, they are incinerated as waste. Synthetic clothing creates the worst impact as 35 per cent of all microplastics that pollute the oceans come from these clothes. The fashion industry consumes one-tenth of the water used by all other industries. This is because production and dyeing of clothes use massive amount of water and toxic chemicals. Experts estimate that producing one kg of cotton requires 10,000 litres of water and 20 per cent of wastewater in the world is attributed to the dyeing process.
Resolve to use less energy in everything you do. Put off lights, fans, air-conditioners when you leave a room. If you are using a washing machine, make sure you collect the entire household’s clothes for its optimum use. Install solar lights and a solar system for heating. It would be great if you could switch to cooking at least one dish in a solar cooker and plan your meals such that you cook at one go for two or three meals, saving precious natural reserves.
Resolve to buy local and eat organic. Your local vendor will fetch vegetables and fruits from the closest source, which means less energy spent. Besides, you are contributing to the livelihood of a micro-entrepreneur. Organic food ensures that the environment is subjected to less soil pollution, soil erosion and energy. You also get to eat pesticide-free fresh food.
Resolve to segregate your waste and compost your wet waste. This would be a big step in helping our landfills from being overpowered with unsegregated waste that leaches into the ground and causes toxic emissions. Unprocessed waste gives rise to a host of diseases that impact humans, animals and plant life.
Resolve to travel less and only when it is required. Travelling involves consuming a massive amount of energy. Flying is especially bad for the environment and leaves a massive carbon footprint. It also contributes to global warming and pollution as airplanes use fuel that releases carbon dioxide and pollutants into the atmosphere.
Be a consumer who advocates for climate-friendly products that promote a circular economy. When companies come to know that consumers will not buy products that pollute the earth and are unhealthy for humans, animals and plants, they will shift to providing better products. And when they know that you are watching if their product closes the environment loop, they will design and sell more ethically.
Resolve to recycle and upcycle all that you use. For instance, if you get your gadgets fixed instead of discarding them, mend your garments instead of throwing them away, and put your old things to new productive use, you would be saving water, energy and your hard-earned money.
Last but not the least — resolve to track your carbon footprint. When you see it reducing before your eyes, it is a true feel-good moment. There are lots of apps just a Google away that can help you do that.
Now that you have a whole lot of resolutions to choose from, here’s to a happy and eco-friendly 2023!
The writer is a senior journalist who writes on environmental issues