5 Eco-Conscious New Year's Resolutions You'll Actually Keep

Want to live more sustainably in 2021, but don't know where to start? Read on as we count down the top 5 eco-friendly habits that make a difference for the planet and aren't too hard to adopt.

5. Ditch single-use plastics. There are so many practical alternatives on the market (ahem) that can motivate you to ditch these often unrecyclable plastics for good. For starters:

👉🏻 Those plastic bags you keep hoarding? Keep them and other reusable bags in your car at all times
👉🏼 Bring silverware from your house (or a bamboo set) and a water bottle everywhere
👉🏽 Say "no straw/no cutlery please" when ordering food (using an app? put it in the order comments!)
👉🏾 Use tupperware, silicone storage bags/lids or beeswax wraps instead of cling wrap and ziplocks
👉🏿 Most importantly: Get smart about the impacts of plastic pollution on our ecosystems, climate, and public health -and share that knowledge. This National Geographic article is a good primer.

4. Look for local first. "Shop local" is a buzzy phrase for a reason. A world of good can come from this one habit, which:

✅ contributes to your community's economic and social development
✅ minimizes carbon emissions and plastic packaging (since it's a shorter journey for products)
✅ (if it's groceries) benefits your health, as fresher food = more nutritional value

Of course, it's tough to buy everything local, but you can commit to some of the easier categories, such as food, gifts, decor, and skincare. You might even discover new favorite shops in the process!

3. Don't buy porquerías (a.k.a crap). If we learned anything in 2020, it's that we don't really need that much stuff. We're not saying deny yourself small pleasures (like FINALLY wearing a new outfit!), but rather discovering the pleasure of simplifying your life.⁠ Next time you're in line at Zara (the worst-offending "fast-fashion" giant 💔), ask yourself:

🤔 Realistically, how many times will I use this article?
🤔 Is there a high-quality, long-lasting alternative?
🤔 Could it have some alternate use if I get tired of it? (Not giving it away, though: there's an excess supply of clothing donations)

2. Make beef a rare affair. We know, we know.... Everyone keeps yelling about it and you just want to eat your churrasco in peace. But drastically reducing beef consumption is THE most practical, immediate way individuals can make a difference, given the serious environmental impacts of excessive cattle ranching: dangerous methane emissions, rampant deforestation, water and land scarcity, to name a few.

🥩 Default to picking non-beef options on the menu and at the supermarket
🥩 Keep count of the times you eat beef, then try to do better next week/month/year
🥩 Make beef only on special occasions (e.g. steaks for your anniversary) and if you can, splurge on high-quality, organic, local beef.
🥩 Ready to level up? Cut your lamb, pork and dairy consumption as a next step.

1. Increase your footprint. You read that right. Minimizing your personal carbon footprint is a noble goal, but the focus of individuals should be on using their power to support a collective movement towards sustainability. If you do nothing else in 2021, resolve to increase your "climate action" footprint. As Fernando Tormos, public policy professor at University of Maryland, previously advised, contributing your time, talents, network, and/or money to grassroots environmental organizations will ensure the biggest return on your effort investment . If you're in Puerto Rico, Fernando recommends helping out:

👣 Casa Pueblo, proyecto de autogestión comunitaria (https://casapueblo.org/)
👣 Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica (http://organizacionboricua.blogspot.com)
👣 Guaikiá Colectivo Agroecológico (https://www.facebook.com/guakiapr/)

That doesn't sound so hard, does it? Remember: Resolutions aren't about being perfect. But they are about being better. And who doesn't want better in 2021?