New Year’s Environmental Goals

Now that it’s 2019, I’m caught thinking about the environmental goals and benchmarks that we are still so far away from – yet one year closer to (of course the rational part of me knows it is only the difference of a few days, but the change in the year feels daunting). Immediately, I wonder what I can do and whether I can play a part in the solutions.

Lettuce patch in San Francisco’s Alemany Farm

Something about the phrase “New Years Resolution” rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s the frequency at which they fail. Maybe it’s that I would like to hope that I’m always looking to better myself. Regardless, though, I find myself making these resolutions of sorts, but I prefer call them goals, as this word puts more weight on the process than on the outcome.

On the whole, I would like to lower my footprint and raise my awareness. I have a few specific ideas to help me get there.

  • Ditch to-go: I want to eat to-go less frequently. This will accomplish two goals: I’ll be able to use less wasteful packaging and hopefully I’ll have my meals with more intentionality. Maybe that will mean I’m more thoughtful about my choices and maybe I’ll eat with friends more often. Regardless, I’ll pause to eat and I’ll stop eating with plastic forks and paper bowls.
  • Shop wholesale or local: Shopping wholesale will allow me to eliminate more packaging and sometimes even use my own packaging! Local eating lets me lower my food miles, support nearby farmers and business, and maybe even get to know a little bit more about my food and the agriculture practices and inputs that went into it.
  • Stop taking shortcuts: Every once in a while, I find myself throwing away the paper plate because I can’t find a compost bin or tossing the plastic cup in the trash because it would be extra work to rinse it out. I do know, though, that it’s not much harder to hold on to the waste, wait a little bit, and deal with it then. I find myself, just like so many people, buying into the “drop in the bucket” idea, which is to say that my ideas are just a drop in the bucket, so what does it even matter? In reality, those drops add up, the landfills pile higher, and the greenhouse gases keep increasing from production of new goods. I need to take full responsibility for my actions and keep in mind that only throwing away the recyclable once in a while is not good enough.

I have so many more goals, big and small, personal and environmental, but these are just a few. Challenge yourself to take the extra step to help out the environment, even if it seems like a small action. We may pay more money for convenience, but the real price we pay to our environment is so much higher than we can count in just dollars and cents.