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Natural New Year’s Resolutions

If you enjoy making New Year’s resolutions, consider aiming for healthy lifestyle changes that can really have an impact on your community. Going “green” and choosing the natural route when it comes to everyday decisions is a resolution everyone can get behind, and often, these changes are very simple to do. Here are some resolutions you can feel good about making:

#1: Cook at home from scratch.
Processed, pre-packaged foods contain a lot of additives and tend to have much less nutrition than fresh foods — plus they require an excessive use of resources like energy, oil, water and trees to produce them. Similarly, eating out often can be wasteful and is certainly not cost effective. You can start by cooking just a few nights a week, and if you need some inspiration, there are many cookbooks and online recipes out there that feature fast and simple food preparation. You could also try cooking enough food on the weekends to save time mid-week. Keeping things basic and planning your meals as much as possible can really be a game changer.

#2: Use reusable shopping bags.
Speaking of groceries, bring your own when you go shopping to reduce your use of plastic bags. This goes for shopping at non-food stores as well. Plastic bags are the second-most common form of litter after cigarette butts, and more than four billion bags get caught by the wind and clog storm drains and litter water sources every year. Because most plastic bags require oil to produce, they also consume 12 million barrels of this resource yearly and cost $500 million. Keep your reusable bags in your car to be used wherever you go. It does make a difference!

#3: Use reusable water bottles.
In a similar vein, there’s no good reason to buy single-use plastic bottles when a reusable bottle will do the job just as well (if not better). Consider the fact that the oil used to make plastic water bottles in the U.S. is equivalent to fueling one million cars — and that’s true each year! Sticking with reusable bottles protects ecosystems, lowers pollution and saves money and resources. What’s not to appreciate about that? Besides, these bottles are extremely easy to find and are offered in thousands of options.

#4: Choose chemical-free cosmetics and personal care products.
Interesting fact: What you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream. This is why it’s important to evaluate what’s in your makeup, body fragrances, hair products and other personal care products much like you would evaluate what’s in the food you eat. Make sure you’re not taking in toxins that could harm your body, and instead choose items that are pure and contain natural ingredients. Commit to using fewer chemicals on your skin this year and prioritize eco-friendly over popularity or price.

#5: Walk, bike and take public transportation.
Transportation is essential to our daily lives, but how often do we think about the impact of our travel choices? If you live in a larger city, public transit is an easy and accessible way to do your part to reduce emissions, which is notable considering that 30% of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States is attributed to transportation. Sitting in traffic also causes Americans to waste about 1.9 billion gallons of gas, totaling more than $100 billion a year. Carpool when you can, and if you live close to your workplace, consider walking or riding your bike — at least on days when the weather is nice.

#6: Hang dry your laundry.
The source Project Laundry List has found that commercial, industrial and residential clothes dryers consume 15-20% of the country’s total domestic energy. To think about this practically, here’s a good comparison: If every American used a clothesline or drying rack even just once a week, the energy savings would be sufficient to close several nuclear power plants. Small changes really do matter, don’t they? Combine this practice with a high efficiency washer, cold water washes and natural-based detergent and you’re paving the way for green living!

#7: Clean your home (for real).
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has actually found many household cleaning products to have toxic substances and ingredients that haven’t been tested for safety. Some especially toxic cleaners include ammonia, chlorine bleach, drain cleaners and aerosol propellants. These substances can get absorbed by the skin and emit fumes that affect others in the area. Opt for natural cleaning products instead, which are often made with water, white vinegar, castile soap, baking soda and other plant-based ingredients.

Healthy sustainability is the focus of these 2018 resolutions. Maybe you don’t do them all — try tackling just one or two and go from there. Remember that your decisions turn into habits and your habits affect your lifestyle, so make your lifestyle one that is kind to both you and the environment around you.