Green-ify Your New Years Resolutions.

Photo from Gord McKenna | flickr.com

Photo from Gord McKenna | flickr.com

Originally posted in January 2013. Edited to reflect current year.

Well folks, it’s that time of year where we are expected to make that inspirational (or for some of us, frightful) list of ways to further improve the quality of our lives.  Shedding some pounds, adopting a healthier diet, and spending less time in front of the television are of course some of the more common ambitions taken on by many every January 1st.  Personally, I am striving to become increasingly aware of my environmental impacts (to be candid, I’ve invested much effort into becoming an environmentally conscious consumer, but feel this is a good time to monitor my footprint even more).  Perhaps environmental responsibility has made its way onto your list, as well.  Regardless, here are some tips that will hopefully help ‘green-ify’ your ambitions for 2015. 

Getting Fit

Whether you prefer to hit the trails or hit the gym, there are some ways to think of the environment as well as your workout routines.  Generally, exercise that uses less electricity (i.e., without machines) is considered at least in part more green than heading straight to a top-of-the-line treadmill at your local gym, since these require electricity and are often used constantly throughout the day.  However, as I see it, both have their perks.

If you do use trails (or any other outdoor terrain), be sure to stay on designated paths. Other areas are often more vulnerable to ecological disturbance.  If you are greeted by a puddle or bumpy terrain, fight the urge to run, walk, or bike around the obstacle, which can impact the unpaved areas.  Rather, remain on the trail (it also serves as an extra challenge!).  And of course, refrain from littering.  Check out more trail etiquette here.    

Need I mention avoiding single-use plastic water bottles as your source of hydration?

If you’d rather get fit from the comfort of your own home, consider investing in exercise videos (like yoga, Pilates, or kickboxing) instead of that awesome stationary bike with a built-in fan and TV.  A little ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies’, anyone? 

For those gym rats out there (including myself), setting your treadmill/elliptical/other exercise equipment to a higher incline actually uses less energy than a zero incline.  Talk about motivation to work harder!

Yoga fans (including myself, once again): be sure to choose your mats, towels, blocks, and attire wisely.  There are endless supplies of eco-friendly yoga supplies (including PVC-free and hemp items). 

Click here for more solutions to green your workout. 

Eating Right

  • Pay attention to where your food comes from.  In other words, monitor the carbon emissions.  Was that pasta produced nearby, or did it travel across the continent to get to your grocery store? 
  • As a university student, I used to always stock up on those convenient frozen dinners.  But thinking of all that non-recyclable, non-compostable packaging is enough to influence me to switch to fresh foods that don’t come with any extra waste.  
  • On that note, I personally skip the plastic bags provided by grocery stores for your produce.  For some items I’d rather not have rolling around in my cart (apples, pears, etc.) I use a small mesh bag (like you would for your laundry) that I can reuse again and again.
  • This is also the time of year where many people consider vegetarianism or veganism as a way to lower their environmental impact and change their eating habits.  There’s endless information on the environmental benefits of this big switch, so I won’t say much here except that provides a lot of relevant statistics and info.  Of course, be sure to do your own research!
  • Look at how much fish you consume, and also where it comes from.  Degradation of ocean ecosystems is a significant global issue.  Look for the “Ocean Wise” label on packaging or menus before buying – this means that the seafood got from the ocean to your plate sustainably.  There’s even an iPhone app to help you out.

Volunteering

One of your resolutions may involve giving back to your community, or perhaps helping out the planet.  I stumbled upon a website that allows you accomplish both goals simultaneously.  The site will guide you through how to begin environmental volunteering and connect you to people and organizations suited for you.  They also provide international volunteer opportunities. 

Happy 2015 and good luck with your resolutions!