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The Gap Year Blog

8 Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions for 2019

9 Jan 2019 12:00 PM

Photo Credit: Frontier

Gyms are packed out for the next few weeks, diets have kicked in and pubs are out of business with ‘Dry January’ taking its toll. New year, new me? When 2018 was a year crammed with climate change, summer heatwaves and inescapable plastic headlines, the world seems to be telling us to change our ways for the new year. 

The last year saw an insurgence of concerns around changing climate change, global warming and rising CO2 emissions; London tube temperatures reached up to 40°C in the height of summer and US CO2 emissions saw a steep increase after years in decline. So, with the new year in full swing, what better way to rewind these problems than with a sustainable resolution of our own – here’s the top 10 eco-friendly resolutions everyone is nabbing.

Trying out veganism

Most obviously seen in the impact of Veganuary, where at the beginning of January it broke records and shot past it’s previous record of 190,000 sign-ups to over 250,000. 

Despite some of its aggressive enemies (we’ve all heard enough of the vegan sausage roll debate), it’s commonly known that veganism is one of the easiest lifestyle changes to change your environmental impact; resarchers at the University of Oxford reported that changing to a vegan lifestyle can reduce your footprint by up to 73%. If Veganuary seems futile to work as a resolution, why not start being a vegetarian or flexitarian? Although not as dramatic as becoming a vegan, small steps can still reduce your impact. 

Photo Credit: Flickr | lincolnblues

Sustainable goods are just as good for the planet

Eating vegan is one thing but ensuring that you support local farmers and eating organic is a good resolution to give back to the agricultural market. It’s so easy to run to the supermarket and pick up the excessive options by the largely manufactured organizations, just make sure to keep an eye on your labels. Think free-range, fairtrade, organic and generally being responsible in your shopping list. Even if you can’t keep your hands off of the supermarket goods, many are now doing campaigns and ranges that support local farmers or reduce the amount of waste; take the ‘wonky veg craze’ for instance, when supermarkets offered options that were less attractive (more ‘wonky’) but cheaper to avoid throwing away perfectly good food. 

Cut down on plastic consumption 

The new year kicked off when the “statistic of the year” voted that “90.5% of the proportion of plastic has never been recycled” was the most important statistic of 2018. Although slightly disheartening, it’s true. 

Most of the plastic we use ends up in a landfill – even the plastic we put in the recycling bin. So when you see those pictures of beaches filled with layers of waste, why not have your own hand in helping on a beach clean? All around the UK - and even all around the world - there’s many organized cleans that you can join in on. We used to see plastic bags flapping around the supermarket until the 5p tax banished them, but always take a reusable bag so you don’t have to force yourself to buy one. These are just a few easy starters to reduce your consumption but there are lots of top tips on avoiding plastic. You just need this new year to start doing them!

Photo Credit: Flickr | Bo Eide

Parttake in some ecotourism on your next travel

There’s no doubt that the surge of ‘overtourism’ has made an impact where travelling has adapted from being a cultural experience to overpopulating destinations and reversing the cultural significance of them. If you’re heading on a travel this year, why not change to more eco-friendly tourism? Make sure to travel to less populated areas in 2019 and even get hands-on with conservation efforts directly in the country. Make sure to do your research, but Environmental Conservation is a good place to start; you can make a difference whilst getting a first hand experience of the culture. 

If getting dirty in the remote countries doesn’t appeal to your travel bug, there are ways to be more eco-friendly in big cities. Give trade to the local efforts and remember your waste and consumption affects abroad as much as it does at home.

Converting to cruelty-free cosmetics 

Many more high street brands like LUSH and Elf are picking up this trend and 2019 could be your new year to change your cosmetic ethics. Not just makeup but hair care, skin care and medicinal treatments should be given a second thought when stocking up next time. Be wary of the logos that claim it as ‘cruelty-free’ as they differ in their definitions and make cruelty-free misleading. Do your research and start the year by reconsidering what you’re putting on your skin and what it’s really putting out into the planet. 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Have a sustainable fashion fix 

This doesn’t mean throwing all your clothes out – in fact, don’t throw your clothes away at all; fast fashion is taking over the industry and clothes are thrown away at an extraordinary rate. But, it isn’t all over where sustainable fashion is on the rise and high-street brands like H&M and ASOS have introduced new sustainable lines as an option; even high-end designers such as Stella McCartney have been pushing an ethical fashion change. Although much of this waste comes from the most influential companies, supporting sustainable fashion campaigns and ensuring you are always upcycling or recycling your clothes aids in the demand for a better industry. 

Cutting down on water usage

Many people may not realize that our usage of water has grown extensively over the years. Water comes from a lot of sources from the earth’s storage reservoirs like the atmosphere, soil and lakes, but once we’ve used it all up through evaporation, condensation and consumption, we’ll have a long time to wait to extract it again – and we are extracting the water faster than we think. Many countries are even facing water stress where availability becomes scarce from person to person and is limited to what you can use. 

Have you ever though about how much water is in your diet? Probably not, but 2019 may be the time to start thinking. It comes from obvious teachings like not using running water whilst brushing your teeth or not wasting water through excessively long showers; but you can do more than that. Changing your diet for a start, where veganism is known to rapidly reduce your water consumption because of the excessive water used through agriculture of animals. So, although water is a human necessity, can we reduce our wastage of it?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Take a hike (or, public transport in other words)

Where many people will be looking towards fitness goals in the new year, this resolution could be helping shift those pigs-in-blankets from the Christmas season. Using public transport instead of driving, and even taking a walk instead of public transport aids in a lowering of the emissions which come from the transport industry. Of course, this comes with a good running system to ensure that it works for you, but most cities now offer links which help commutes to become easy. Not just for commuters, changing your travel options can help assist at any point; next time, when you’re popping to the shops or heading out for a bite to eat, could you take a walk instead of the bus or even do a car share to reduce your emissions? A new lifestyle to think about in the new year.

From diets to fashion, travelling and transport, there are loads of ways to adapt your resolution to make it eco-friendly. What’s your new year’s resolution and is it green?

By Caitlin Casey - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!