Green New Year’s Resolutions

January is a time for planning the year and resolving to make positive changes. What about some environmental resolutions to kick start 2022?

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of January, but do you know why?

January is named after ‘Janus’, the two-faced god of new beginnings: one face looks back towards the past and the other looks forward to the future. The Romans offered sacrifices to Janus and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.

I may not be a great example for keeping up new resolutions, but I am a great example of the 76% of people who drop their promises.

Top tips for keeping New Year’s resolutions:

  • Make your goals really detailed and specific
  • Make your goals achievable
  • Make your resolutions at different times of the year, not all at the beginning
  • Don’t give up completely if you slip up a little
  • Create a monthly planner.

Minimise household waste

Focusing on one specific area of your house to minimise waste in is a great place to start. You could choose your kitchen or your bathroom and minimise waste by going to refill shops, or thinking about easy swaps with less plastic or palm oil.

Green New Year’s Resolution idea: Find your nearest refill shop and visit.

Cut down on fast fashion

Did you know that the UK buys more clothes than any other European country? Around 300,000 tonnes of used clothes are burned or buried in landfill each year.  So before you buy a new garment:

  • Ask yourself if you really need it – can you use what you already have?
  • Can you make your existing clothes last longer with repairs or make them feel new with some edits?
  • Could you borrow something similar from a friend?
  • Can you find something similar in a charity shop or online second-hand market like Ebay or Depop?

You could also try making your own. Ambitious but possible! Joining a knitting or sewing group is a great way to motivate yourself, and get some good tips as you learn.

Green New Year’s Resolution idea: Don’t buy any new clothes for all of February.

Shake up your commute

Instead of driving to work or school every day, try choosing one day where you take public transport, cycle, e-scooter, or walk. You could try to work from home at least one extra day per week if you are allowed to.

Green New Year’s Resolution idea: Swap your car commute for a walk or cycle once a week.

It doesn’t have to stop at daily transport. We can try and make our holidays greener too. Try to choose a holiday location that you can access by train, or coach – or car, as long as it is full of people. Take a look at making a no fly pledge.

When you’re coming to the Horniman, we have plenty of bike racks on site, and we’re just a short walk from Forest Hill station – there are even buses to take you from the station to our gates, if the hill is too much of a climb.

Try going meat free

Increase the amount of meat free meals you eat. You don’t have to immediately go vegan – I know I couldn’t due to my love of cheese. But depending on how much meat you eat at the moment, you could try meat free Monday, or veggie before 6pm, or only eating meat at the weekends.

Veganuary is a great place to try eating fewer animal products, as you have a community around you helping you out and giving you ideas!

The Climate Action Lewisham community group offers support by inviting people to join a 7-Day Vegan Challenge, with a WhatsApp group to provide moral support, share recipes, and collect tips.

Eating less meat not only reduces your carbon footprint, but it saves you money and is good for your health too.

Green New Year’s Resolution idea: Meat free Mondays!

Reduce your home’s energy consumption (and your bills!)

England’s homes produce more carbon emissions per year (58.5 million tonnes of CO2) than is produced by all of the country’s cars (NHF National Housing ). This is because 85% of UK households are heated by gas boilers, much more than in many of our neighbouring countries.

Adding this to the spiralling increases in prices, (wholesale price has increased by 404% in the past 12 months according to Ofgem) let’s look at how we can reduce our energy consumption and our carbon footprint (they go hand in hand!).

Here are some ways you can reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Put on an extra jumper instead of turning the heating on. If you really need to turn the heating on, keep it between 19 and 21 degrees
  • If you own your house, make sure that the roof is insulated and look at insulating your ground floor
  • Add thermal lining to curtains
  • Draught proof your doors and windows. If you have an older house, draught proof your floorboards and skirting boards, The gaps between your floor boards allow cold air to come through while you heat up your house, wasting energy. The Energy Saving Trust believes that draught-proofing your floor could save you up to £40 a year
  • Look at double glazing, or the cheaper second glazing
  • If you can, look at solar panels and heat pumps
  • Switch to a renewable energy supplier
  • Take more frequent readings of your gas and electricity meters and tell your supplier. If you reduce your consumption your direct debit will not reflect that because they are set on estimates based on your previous year’s consumption
  • If you need to replace an electrical appliance, choose one with a better energy rating

If you live in South London SELCE (South East London Community Energy) offers help retrofitting for our homes.

Green New Year’s Resolution idea: Make a list of renewable energy suppliers and decide which one looks best for your home.

Help biodiversity flourish

Wildlife and plants are under stress because of climate change, reduced habitat, and pollution and plastic waste. Here are just some things you can do to help:

  • Stop using pesticides in the garden
  • Use peat free compost, or your own compost
  • Let grass grow longer and keep areas untidy
  • Let tree trunks and wood rot
  • Link up with neighbours to make holes in your fences to allow toads and hedgehogs to roam freely
  • Feed the birds in the winter
  • Plant native drought resistant and pollinator friendly plants.

Not only are these things good for biodiversity, but spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress levels too – so if that’s on your resolution list you can tick both off at once!

Green New Year’s Resolution idea: Do some research into what to feed birds in the winter.

Use your power

Sometimes the climate and ecological crisis can make us feel powerless, but you have a lot more power than you think. You can write to your local MP or councillors about environmental issues that you are concerned about, and ask them to change things. If we don’t voice our concerns, nothing will change.

Join local environmental community groups and nature reserves, or try and make the community groups you already belong to more environmentally friendly. For example, the PTA of your children’s school.

Green New Year’s Resolution idea: Find out who your local MP is and how to contact them.

Reduce your water usage

The UK’s Environment Agency has warned in a report that England would suffer major water shortages by 2030 and that London is particularly at risk. That’s not too far into the future.

Here are some tips to reduce water consumption

  • Use a four minute timer to shorten your showers. You could use your favourite song as the timer!
  • Install tap aerators
  • When you replace appliances, buy ones that are water efficient
  • Install a water butt to capture rain water.

Share how you get on with your Green New Year’s Resolutions in the Environment Champions Club Facebook group.

Thank you to all those who have inspired me, including Zaria at Climate Action Lewisham and Parisa at Greener and Cleaner Bromley.