Eco friendly new year’s resolutions, positive intentions, digital detoxes, new year challenges, fitness goals, mental health aims… yup, it’s that time of year again.
Want some meaningful new year’s resolutions you can really stick to?
How about a super easy new year’s resolution which actually involves doing less of something you already do ALL the time?
Which will also save you time and money. AND is better for the environment.
This is not a drill. Read on for our top tips on the BEST eco friendly new year’s resolutions for 2023…
Green is the New Black
Forget that new fad the A-listers are into, or whatever Gwyneth Paltrow is talking about now. Don’t worry about overhauling your life to get the ‘new’ you. If you’re reading this, I think you’re already pretty awesome.
We don’t need a new you. You are brilliant as you are - and we’re so happy you’re here. So, any changes you want to make should be minor adjustments that you can easily accommodate into your already busy life.
The best way to make any new year's resolution stick is to build on habits you already have. Simply tweak existing behaviour for the better instead of starting then quitting something entirely new.
And the great news about eco friendly new year’s resolutions is that for the most part, it’s about using up the things you already have and being less wasteful.
Better for the environment AND for your pocket.
When many of us are concerned about the cost of living crisis as well as climate change, there really are lots of ways you can adjust the way you live at home that can address both issues - by reducing energy consumption and our impact on the environment.
Here are some ideas I hope will inspire you to live a greener 2023…
10 Eco Friendly New Year’s Resolutions
What makes clothes more sustainable?
1. Source Clothes Carefully
Opting for garments that have a lower impact to start with is a great way to begin, when it comes to making your, or your kids’, clothing more sustainable.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a hefty price tag: this could be in the form of hand-me downs from friends or family, purchases from charity shops, or bundles of kids clothing available on Facebook Marketplace for next to nothing.
But it could also mean sourcing pieces that are made from certified organic cotton, or recycled materials, which have lower environmental impacts during production. Additionally they tend to be better quality and last longer, meaning fewer clothes need to be produced.
The January sales are a great time to purchase more sustainably-made clothing - especially if it’s for the first time. Perhaps you might try out a brand you’ve previously been interested in while they have a sale.
Or you might use it to stock up on sustainable kids' clothing (or your own) for the year. Grab those summer clothes at a great price now!
There’s no one-size fits all solution here, and mixing and matching some of these options is a great way to go.
But how to be more sustainable with the clothes you already have…
2. Wash Clothes Less
From the moment you get an item of clothing home, you play a crucial role in its overall environmental impact.
The energy and water required for caring for our clothes adds up monumentally - with some research suggesting our laundering practices account for a massive 63% of a t-shirt's climate change impact.
And this is where we can make a huge difference by making small adjustments at home. Who really enjoys doing the laundry? And when you have children, it can seem never ending.
So how about Just. Doing. Less. Of. It.
Levi Strauss estimates its customers are responsible for more than one third (37%) of the overall climate impact of a pair of their jeans.
They recommend washing a pair of jeans every ten times they are worn rather than after just two wears (the average). This would reduce energy use, water use and the overall climate change impact by around a whopping 75%.
And if you’re really game, you can follow the example of the denim brand’s president and CEO, Chip Bergh, who famously said in 2014 that we shouldn’t wash our jeans AT ALL - claiming his pair of jeans were a year old and were yet to see a washing machine!
Instead of washing, try spot cleaning lightly soiled clothes with a sponge or toothbrush, spritzing with diluted lemon juice to neutralise odours, or hanging outside (when the weather allows) where sunlight can eliminate bacteria on clothes.
3. Wash your clothes at 30°C
Now that you’re running a reduced laundry service and saving time, effort and money - how else can you make washing your clothes even more eco friendly?
By always waiting til you have a full load and choosing a cool wash cycle. Wash at 30 degrees (or even lower) for colours, synthetics, sports kit and everyday washes.
Are clothes still dirty at 30?
I get it, you want to make sure your clothes, and those for your kids are properly clean - it speaks to our basic hygiene requirements. So is it really ok to wash clothes at 30°C - especially kids’ clothes?
Most washing detergents are now designed to be as effective at removing stains at cooler temperatures, as they are at 40°C. And for an extra win, washing at lower temperatures can cut energy use by up to 60%, according to Persil.
It’s also better for your clothes, meaning colours won’t run and clothes are less likely to shrink.
As a rule of thumb, clothing should spend as little time in the washing machine and at as low a temperature as possible to keep them looking their best. So a quick cycle of an hour or less at 20°C may be plenty.
Items that may need washing on 40°C or above are bedding and towels, which may need the higher temperature to destroy mold and bacteria. Or items your child has been wearing if they’ve been poorly - to help eliminate germs.
How can I be more sustainable in the kitchen?
4. Reduce Food Waste
Wasting less food is a super easy eco-friendly new year’s resolution for 2023.
According to charity WRAP, UK households produce an estimated 6.6 million tonnes of food waste each year. On average that means each family bins around £720 worth of food per year.
This is a horrible waste of money and precious resources.
But food waste is also important from an emissions standpoint. More than 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases are emitted by the food we, as a country, waste each year - making up around 5.5% of the UK’s total. In fact, if global food waste were a country it would be the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases behind only China and the US.
Most food is wasted because we don’t use it in time before it spoils.
A great way to avoid food waste is to do fewer smaller shops rather than just one big shop for the whole week.
Use an online shop to stock up on store cupboard essentials like dry and tinned foods, or frozen foods - and then buy fresh food like milk, bread and fresh fruit and vegetables in smaller purchases across the week.
Look at portion control so you’re not serving too much onto each plate - and make sure you refrigerate or freeze leftovers where possible, rather than binning them.
Plan your week’s meals in advance if you can, and if you’re the type of person who only decides what you’re eating at 6pm each night, then look to the contents of your fridge for inspiration and try new recipes using up what you have - while feeling smug about the lack of slimy mouldering greens in your veggie draw!
5. Use Anti-Food Waste Apps!
At a time when 1 in 5 people in the UK are struggling to get enough to eat, the food we don’t need could easily be helping local communities.
There are lots of apps out there that help you donate - or find - food in your local area which might otherwise be wasted. You get to help the planet and find a bargain!
Or download Kitche, which helps you keep track of what’s going out of date in your fridge and comes up with recipe suggestions based on what you have in stock.
6. Use a Food Waste Bin
You’ve planned your meals, cut down on your shopping and donated the food you didn’t need, but almost inevitably there is still going to be some food scraps leftover.
If it is not disposed of properly, food waste releases harmful greenhouse gases. Food sent to landfill biodegrades anaerobically, releasing methane into the atmosphere - a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
However, the majority of people in the UK are still scraping food into black bins with Cambridge City Council reporting that food waste makes up around 30% of the contents of their residents’ black bin collections.
Using the food waste bins provided by local authorities means food is processed correctly and can be used to create biogas, which can be used to generate electricity, heat or fuel for vehicles.
One banana skin, when correctly processed, can be used to create enough energy to provide two charges for a smartphone.
This solution is free for you, and also costs the council less money to process food waste rather than incinerating it.
How can I be more green in the bathroom?
7. Ditch the Disposables
A whopping 20,000 litres of water is used to make 1kg of cotton - that’s only enough to make one t shirt and a pair of jeans. So any cotton you use should be worth it. Time to stop using cotton wool pads.
There are lots of reusable cotton discs on the market that you can use for makeup removal and wet Terry-cloth flannels are ideal for cleansing and can be washed hundreds of times.
Stay away from the pick n mix travel-sized beauty products - ALL of the packaging for not a great deal of product. And opt for soap and shampoo bars - especially for the kids, who love using it to get themselves in a lather!
Choose brands that are implementing more sustainable practices when it comes to their product and packaging, like Ren, Tropic, Lush - and even brands like Dove are now offering reusable, refillable bottles for some products.
8. Change Your Shower Head
Aerated shower heads make a big difference to energy and water consumption. They inject air into the water stream and limit the water usage.
According to the Energy Saving Trust: “A water-efficient shower head could save a four-person household £70 a year on gas for water heating, and a further £115 on water bills if they have a meter.”
And if you do have a powerful shower head, consider having a bath instead. Research suggests some showers deliver more water over the course of a shower than a bath requires - particularly if you only fill it half - to two-thirds full.
Make your garden more sustainable
Keep your eco friendly new year’s resolutions alive throughout the year by giving the garden a little nod this spring and summer…
9. Green, green grass of home…
Going longer between mows not only saves you time and energy, it also encourages more wildlife into your garden. Longer grass is more drought resistant too.
Join the No Mow May movement, which encourages households with gardens not to mow at all for the month of May and to reduce maintenance requirements of lawns across the summer.
Going 3 or 4 weeks between mows to let dandelions, daisies and buttercups bloom, as well as keeping some patches long was found to provide enough nectar for ten times more bees and pollinators.
10. The Bees’ Knees…
Stock up on bee-friendly plants in your garden - use the thank you cards from My Little Green Wardrobe as a great (and free) place to start. They are impregnated with meadow flowers that bees simply love - and are a great way of getting kids involved with gardening.
To take it one step further, try to plant large drifts or clumps of the same flower together. Honey bees only go to one plant type on each foraging flight, which is what makes them such great pollinators! So grouping single species around your garden will help ‘optimise’ their trips.
Bees love delphinium, lavender, foxgloves, buddleia, honeysuckle, snapdragons, chives, rosemary and crocus among many other crowd-pleasing and inexpensive plants.
It can be tempting to pledge to make a dramatic change to your lifestyle by challenging yourself to a big new year’s resolution, but if you´re only able to stick to it for a few days, what use is that?
Far better to make a few smaller changes for a greener lifestyle you can actually stick to all year than something big that only lasts a week! Doing the laundry and mowing the lawn LESS is something I can 100% get on board with.
Plus doing something impactful for you AND the planet might make you more likely to make those changes stick.
If we all made small changes we would see a big impact! In 2023, feel empowered to take simple steps and do what you can manage. Maybe you’ll inspire yourself - and others - to go further.