By Tim Sparke
A new year is always a good opportunity to try new habits and, when it comes to important issues like the environment, there really is no time like the present. Whether it’s improving your home to make it greener or simply paying more attention to the corporations and industries you support, there’s always something to improve. Here are nine environmental acts to take up in 2016.
1. Home improvements
If there’s one place you spend plenty of time in, it’s your home. More than just saving power by turning lights off, what else can you do? Find the more creative solutions, and don’t be afraid to invest in something that will save both money and resources in the long run.
If you have a garden, consider installing rain-harvesting tanks and water pumps. If you think about how much water you use, isn’t it better to go for a natural source? Start making the big changes and you’ll start contributing to big improvements.
2. Conscious eating
By now, you already know how to shop wisely – buy local produce and avoid materials that can’t be recycled. Yet, the real world has much more issues than this. Take, for instance, where your food comes from. If you’re buying Brazilian beef, you may be encouraging the deforestation of the Amazon. The same comes from not buying local produce – you should start to factor in all those transport costs.
This is the same whether you buy at home or, perhaps more importantly, when you eat out. Many people forget when they’re at restaurants, or they simply don’t want to ask the waiter a tough question. Refusing to pay for what you don’t agree with is the only real way these companies will take notice.
3. Take political action
It’s one thing to improve your own life, but it’s another altogether to take action and make big changes. While you’re not a politician, you still have voting power behind you. Whether it’s campaigning against harmful new policies or trying to revoke existing ones, having the willpower to push for these changes is everything. Not only should you aim to sway politicians, but you can also use your passion to change the public mind. Join in campaigns, protests and actions for any cause you support.
4. Join a group project
On a similar note, it’s always good to take action where possible and, often, it’s better to take it as part of a team. There are plenty of group projects you could start or join. Don’t have a garden?
Look into co-renting an allotment and providing green, local produce for your area. You could also look into improving your entire street or neighborhood with green improvements. If you want to save the planet as much as possible, you should look to encourage and include others.
5. Ditch the car
Anyone with a basic awareness of environmental responsibility is aware of just how damaging the vehicle is, yet we often still rely on it. Why not make 2016 the year you ditch the car altogether (except for emergencies)?
Cycling isn’t just good exercise; it’s a great way to get around! Also, don’t be afraid to ride the bus and other public transport. This is often more fuel efficient compared to your own car – even when carpooling – so why use your vehicle at all if you can help it?
6. Embrace changes
From a psychological point of view, big life transitions are a good way to include other changes. This is just one of the reasons why we use a new year to become better people, but why not extend this further?
Whenever you start a new job or move to a new home, use this opportunity to become a new person. Identify the old habits that weren’t helping the environment and change them completely. A big change like this is an opportunity for a clean slate, so make sure yours is as clean as it can be.
7. Learn to research
One of the best ways to argue your point – whether it’s suggesting greener methods to a local business or just encouraging greener thinking among your peers – is to come from a well-researched position. Facts speak for themselves and help you refute other claims.
In this day and age, there is a wealth of research showing how we damage the world. Use this to your advantage and support your arguments from a well-rounded position of strength. Many of the items listed in this list, such as conscious eating, will also improve as you discover just how big some problems actually are.
8. Push for information
On a similar note to research, don’t be afraid to get the information you require. If you’re eating out, ask where the beef comes from. Likewise, when you’re going through potential energy providers, ask them for a detailed breakdown of their energy sources.
Whether it’s a legal requirement or not, companies should be willing to give this information out. If they don’t, then it often suggests they have something to hide. Sometimes you have to stand firm on your ideals and push harder for the information you need to make the right decisions.
9. Set regular goals
It’s one thing to make a simple change; it’s another to push for more each and every time. When it comes to the environment, more is very much better. Whether it’s cutting down on power, relying on your own food or something else entirely, you should always set new goals. This encourages you to do more and allows you to chart your progress.
There are plenty of ways you can help the environment, whether it’s on your own doorstep or the wider world. The fact is, there’s no excuse not to, so let these nine habits become your greener, eco-friendly way of life as 2016 continues.
Image credit: Pixabay