Resolve to contribute to a healthier planet

Elizabeth Miller | Boulder Weekly

It’s that time of year. The resolutions fly back and forth, the company incentive packages and community weight loss programs are rolling out. Your gym is about to become a lot more crowded with people looking to burn off the holiday pounds and jump into the new year leaner and meaner and healthier, ideally.

But this year, consider making a resolution for not just a healthier you, but a healthier planet, too. Here are a few ideas for projects to take on. Commit to one (or all) and move the needle a little closer to cooler future temperatures, lighten the load on landfills, and strengthen our local economy.

Resolve to get involved with your local food supply.

If you want to get hands on, plant a garden in your backyard or an herb garden and a pot of tomatoes in your apartment. Learn to grow sprouts in a jar. Celebrate the joy of fresh, home-grown food. Or, pick a local farmer to support by participating in a CSA (2012 shares are already on sale). Build a community at that farm, build a relationship with those farmers, and bring home local produce week after week. You’ll have healthy food and spare the planet the carbon costs of having vegetables shipped from one continent to the next.

Resolve to avoid disposables.

If you can remember your cell phone, you can remember your cloth grocery bags.

Pack a kit for yourself that includes a reusable coffee cup (paper cups are often made of virgin paper bleached in a process that releases toxic chemicals), a glass to-go container for your lunches and picking up leftovers at a restaurant, a reusable water bottle, a reusable bag and reusable utensils. Really, you’re more likely to get a round of applause than a weird look for busting out your own supplies for eco-friendly living. Check out for supplies. 

Resolve to minimize your garbage.

We’re going to assume you already recycle, because why wouldn’t you? Bins are now prevalent, as is curbside pickup. But if you don’t, start now.

Meanwhile, work on reducing your food waste by composting. Reducing biodegrading products in the landfill cuts their emissions of methane gas, a major contributor to climate change. Start a container in your back yard, or if you’re in limited space in an apartment, consider employing a few hundred worms to eat through your food refuse and soft paper products, including paper towels and newspapers, and produce quality fertilizer.

Resolve to get rid of junk mail.

Eco- Cycle runs a program to stop junk mail for good. Each year, 109 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered in the U.S., requiring more than 100 million trees to create (that’s the size of Rocky Mountain National Park every four months). Trees in the Canadian forest are cut at a rate of two acres a minute, 24 hours a day, to produce paper products. Production and disposal consumes the energy of more than 3 million cars. You can proactively engage by asking the companies that you give your address to not to sell, rent or trade your name and address, contact the charities you donate to and ask them to only send one request per year, and call 1-800-NO THANKS about catalogs you receive but don’t want.

Resolve to eat less meat.

Renewing the World War II-era campaign for meatless Mondays could reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health.

The meat industry generates one-fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. A single pound of beef also requires 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water to produce and uses more than 18 times the amount of fossil fuels required to produce one pound of plant protein.

Visit for more information on temporary vegetarianism.

Resolve to contribute to cleaner oceans.

The less we put into our water system, the less someone downstream has to filter out of it. Trade out your chemical-based cleaners for natural products. Swap your bottled shampoo for baking soda and apple cider vinegar. (No, really. It works.) Make sure your batteries, house paint, car oil and other items that leach chemicals into land fills and eventually into the ground water are getting properly disposed of.

Resolve to drive one less day a week.

Use bike paths and buses. Finagle a way to work from home. When you must drive, carpool.

Resolve to change in increments.

Those nutters who do the quantified self projects, who track every beer consumed, every mile walked — the lesson they pass on to the rest of us is that true change comes in small steps, not giant leaps. Tackle one at a time and expect your progress to be small, but incremental.