Keeping a New Year’s resolution is hard–that’s common knowledge. We all know the feeling of disappointment and shame that comes with giving up a goal in February or March. For one thing, don’t be so hard on yourself: “failure” is a natural part of life, and you can always try again. In fact, research shows that trying again is what leads to success! (Example: most people who successfully quit smoking have made attempts before.)

New Year's Resolutions

Photo by Beth Sawyer.

For another thing, it’s easier to stick with a resolution when you feel like you’re contributing to group progress as well as bettering your own life. You can achieve that feeling by incorporating an eco-friendly focus into your personal resolutions. When people think about making a New Year’s resolution, they usually think about all the things they need to do for themselves: get a better job, exercise more, etc. And that’s okay–there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve your life. But this year, consider tweaking your resolutions to make them especially eco-friendly! In that spirit, here are some tips ‘n’ tricks for a greener 2014:

Slow Your Roll

Thirty percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are from driving. In fact, the American Public Transportation Association suggests that using public transportation saves as much as 1.4 billion gallons of gas and 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. But since 88% of all trips are by car, remember this: if you drive slower your car uses less gas. You’re still better off walking, riding a bike, or taking public transportation whenever possible.

Protecting the environment by slowing down isn’t just about driving. It’s about taking the time to engage in the world around you. As the saying goes, stop to smell the roses.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen

Nearly 35% of landfills are food scraps and food-soiled paper. In fact, Americans waste about 25% of their food purchases.

Instead of buying more food than you can consume, consider planting a vegetable garden. Growing your own food–or at least some of it–not only enables you to eat healthier, but also helps you reduce your waste. Remember to bring your own grocery bags when you shop and reuse food scraps–meat bones in soup, blackened bananas in bread, and just about anything in a compost pile.

Water Consumption

Things like fixing leaky faucets and not letting the water run while brushing your teeth are no-brainers. But do you let the water spill into the sink, tub, or shower while you’re waiting for the hot water to arrive? Instead, capture that water and reuse it for indoor and outdoor plants, washing your car or the kitchen floor, etc. You can even dump it in your swimming pool–or find another purpose for it.

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Posted by Mark Contorno.

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