Let’s Make Sustainable Resolutions for 2021
By: Susan B. Buck
Sustainable: 1. able to continue over a period of time. 2. causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time. (dictionary.cambridge.com)
Resolution: 1. a firm decision to do or not to do something 2. the quality of being determined 3. the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter. (merriam-webster.com).
New Year’s resolutions date back 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar made January 1st the new year as Romans made promises of good behavior. But despite how long we’ve been at it, of the 40% of Americans who make resolutions, 80% give up by February and only 8% achieve their goals at all. Why? We humans will initiate and follow through with objectives if our goals make sense and contribute to our happiness either personally or collectively. But, we also tend to make lofty goals, and often fail to make a plan to achieve them. The key is to break them into small, doable pieces. Here is a month-to-month plan to achieve sustainable resolutions.
January - Educate Yourself About Climate Change
Read and Research- There are many resources to help you investigate the topic. Yorktown100.org has myriad informational articles and videos to increase your knowledge.
Do you want to know:
- the basics of why there is significant climate change?
- why hybrid/electric vehicles are more ecologically sound and which ones are best for you?
- how to eliminate dependency on oil or gas for home heating; what are the options?
- how eating less meat can support lessening our carbon footprint?
For those who already know lots . . .
Take a Field Trip – Visit the MRF (pronounced murf). Tours of the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) educate visitors on the recycling process in Westchester County. Each year I took my elementary school students along with their parents. The experience of seeing truckloads of recycled material being dumped and sorted had a profound effect on everyone, and caused many parents to express their determination to make personal changes. [MRF tours are free of charge for groups including school classes, scout troops, and special interest groups.]
February - Measure Your Carbon Footprint and Do One Thing to Lessen It
What you can’t measure you can’t manage. Let’s use the Carbon Tracker to illuminate your understanding of just how much carbon you and your family are creating.
Then join Community Solar! In the last few months, Yorktown residents received a letter inviting us to participate in Community Solar! If you missed it, you can join by visiting sustainablewestchester.org.
March and April - Try Composting
We all eat. There are always leftovers and/or food scraps. Composting organic waste at home is a “win-win-win” situation. You win by turning your kitchen scraps and yard waste into a great fertilizer for your garden. Your pocketbook wins, because that fertilizer is free. And most importantly, the planet wins because your organic waste doesn’t get transported to a landfill, where it will decompose anaerobically and release methane, a flammable greenhouse gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide! (https://www.greenamerica.org/pickacomposter) We’ve come a long way from the days of backyard compost piles. A few years ago I purchased a composter, established my own kitchen counter bin and perhaps most importantly taught (and insisted) that my family members know what is compostable. Even simpler, but a bit more costly, are companies that pick up your organic waste and even provide containers. (curbcompost.org) In this instance you may compost other items such as meat and dairy products. (Your backyard composter is not hot enough to break down these materials.)
May and June - Plant Trees
Plant one tree each month for your own enjoyment, give as a gift or contribute to your neighborhood or town. As trees grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.
July and August- Use Your Voice
At your summer barbecues, (vaccines having prevailed) share your knowledge, your insights and your burgeoning actions for greening our earth with family, friends and/or neighbors. If each of us enables even one more person to understand the significance of small daily actions, our impact grows exponentially.
Contact your representative. Contact your member of Congress or Senate asking her/him to support climate legislation. Write a letter to one of your elected representatives asking them to support the development and implementation of a climate action plan.
September and October - Bike instead of Drive
Fall is a beautiful time to go bike riding and a terrific opportunity to cut back on driving. Attach a basket to your bike and pick up some small things at the store rather than having to make a special trip in a car.
November and December - Reflect
What have you learned and what can you share with others? How much have you been able to lower your carbon footprint? What actions have made you proudest? You have made a difference. Raise your arms and cheer! Now, what are your sustainable resolutions for 2022?
Yorktown100 is a 100% volunteer group of neighbors working to reduce our carbon footprint by 5% a year through various programs. Contact us if you would like to learn more or would like to join. We welcome new members! Join us on January 11th for our next webinar on this topic.
Visit us at https://yorktown100.org/ and help make a difference.
Susan Buck is a retired public school teacher, a member of Yorktown100 and a lifelong “Earth” hugger.