How to Live More Sustainably in the New Year

Many people want to live a more sustainable existence on this rock we all call home. As 2023 looms, putting off this lifestyle change only compounds the problems caused by practices that cannot be sustained.

The good news is that there are so many ways, large and small, to move toward sustainable living. A few small changes can add up quickly. And “quickly” is how change needs to occur.

Resolve this year to do better for a better planet. You can do it for yourself, for your kids, or for future generations, but do it. Here are some ways to live more sustainably in 2023.

Eat What You Want to Be

Rather than subscribing to the idea that you are what you eat, eat what you want to be. If you want to live sustainably, adjust your diet accordingly.

Start by trying to eat and drink what’s produced locally. That means you need to adjust to eating seasonally, like your own farm-to-table restaurant. Consider the energy used to ship asparagus in winter from another hemisphere and eat locally grown butternut squash instead.

Reduce or eliminate meat in your diet, replacing it with plant-based protein. You might be surprised at how far plant-based substitutes for juicy burgers and tender chicken have come. If you don’t want to go completely vegetarian, keep a little sustainable seafood in your diet, but avoid any variety that’s been overfished.

Finally, try to eat more conscientiously. Think about the origin of your food and what nutrition it’s providing for you. Consider what you want to be made of and eat your way toward that goal.

Put Your Money Where Your Values Are

There are multiple ways you can put your money where your sustainability values are. For example, flying is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, posing a dilemma for people who love to travel. Rather than clipping your wings entirely, start buying tickets on airlines that offset carbon emissions. You may pay more for your ticket, or agree to an added carbon-offset fee, but you can fly with less guilt.

Check to see what companies in your portfolio are benefiting from your investments. Make sure they have excellent ratings for social and environmental responsibility. If they don’t, move your money to ones that do.

Buy sustainably produced products, including clothing, furniture, appliances, light bulbs, soft furnishings, even electronics. It’s often true that the greener the item, the higher the price. But every time you make the choice to pay a premium, you’re investing in the planet.

Replace the Big and Old with the Big and Sustainable

If you have any major purchases on the horizon in 2023, then make spending big green greener. The selection of big-ticket items that contribute less to climate change is growing. So take advantage of it.

If your fridge or washing machine is about to bite the dust, seek an eco-conscious replacement. Smart appliances are more energy-efficient than ever, and they make your life easier. You may have to pay a bit extra upfront, but you’ll get a quick financial return in energy savings.

If it’s a new car on your shopping list, check out electric vehicles and hybrids. Whether you’re looking for a Ford or a Porsche, you can find one to suit, complete with that new car smell. Even better, the federal government and many states are investing in EV infrastructure that reduces barriers to use.

If you live in an area with reliable and convenient public transportation, consider clearing out the driveway altogether. When you need to get somewhere on four wheels, rent an EV or hybrid. You’ll save thousands of dollars on car payments, insurance, and taxes while reducing your carbon footprint to boot.

Reduce the Size of Your Footprint

While we’re on the subject of carbon footprints, what steps can you take in 2023 to reduce yours? If buying an electric car is too big a leap, take baby steps that will make a huge difference to the planet over time. You just need to give them some thought.

Start by eliminating single-use plastics in your life, which may begin with your morning joe. Many people love the convenience of their Keurig, but not the thought of tossing the pods after every cup is brewed. If that sounds like you, swallow the minor inconvenience and swap them out for K-cup reusable coffee filters.

Quit using plastic straws and stirrers and take your own cup to restaurants. Many locally owned spots will fill them, and even some chains like Starbucks and McDonald’s will, too, if your cup is clean. Whip out a stainless steel straw if you don’t want to put your lips on the cup.

Take your own bags not only to the grocery store, but everywhere you shop. Invest in a few beeswax wraps and silicone zipper bags and leave the Ziploc bags on the store shelf. Enjoy your coffee, packed lunch, and leftovers without the leftover environmental impact.

Resolve to Make Small Changes With Major Impact

Living a more sustainable life isn’t something that can be put off for next year’s round of New Year’s resolutions. If you want to shake some bad habits, begin right away.

Remember that even the smallest changes — like forgoing the straw with your soda — add up over time. Implementing them incrementally will make your shift to a new way of life a walk in the park.