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New Years Resolutions for Positive Impact on the Planet

Published in GreenMatters.com

New Year’s resolutions are — more often than not — terrifying. They hold you accountable, push you out of your comfort zone, and force you to reevaluate something about your life.

While most of the popular, cliché New Year’s resolutions are based in personal betterment, the New Year is also the perfect occasion to think about ways you can have a positive impact on the planet.

Keep reading to check out six small changes you can make in your life to help the environment!

Invest in a Reusable Shopping Bag

Assuming you haven’t already, that is. There’s a reason why several countries around the world and cities in the US are banning the use of single-use plastic shopping bags: Research estimates Americans use around 100 billion plastic bags every year, and they are not easily recycled.

Because they aren’t easily recycled, they end up landfills — but often don’t stay there; since they’re so lightweight, they’re often lifted by the wind and end up polluting the “outside,” interfering with our water sources, trees, and animal habitats. And the ones that stay in the landfill are problematic too, of course: According to research out of the UK, it takes 500 years for a plastic bag to decay once it’s in a landfill.

Embrace As Many Reusable Products As Possible

Using reusable items can start at your shopping bag, but it definitely doesn’t have to end there! While you have some extra cash from the holidays, consider buying a reusable straw, reusable coffee cup, reusable water bottle, etc.

Go Paperless When You Can

We live in a digital world — but there are still some things that inexplicably still use paper, though it’s totally unnecessary in many cases. And Americans use a lot of paper: According to research conducted by the University of Southern Indiana, Americans use about 85 million tons of paper a year, which comes out to about 680 pounds per person or, in other words,  about seven trees worth of paper, wood, and other products per person — and about 2 billion trees per year.

Going Green With Your Commute

Vehicles have a major impact on our environment — with the EPA reporting that 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation; according to their findings, a typical passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.