3 Planet-Friendly New Year's Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

These realistic resolutions will help you shape up, slim down, enjoy more good health, and shrink your impact on the planet.

December 28, 2017
mason jars
Mongkol Nitirojsakul / EyeEm/ Getty

We're fast approaching January 1st—so how’s it going in your quest to pick a resolution you'll actually stick with? We know it can be overwhelming, so here, we offer up some lean, green, keepable resolutions that will help you shape up, slim down, enjoy more good health, and shrink your impact on the planet.

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Stop eating plastic

It’s self-evident that storing your leftover food instead of trashing it makes both economic and ecological sense, right? But plastic food containers can leach chemicals that may be bad for your health into your food and beverages. And some of those chemicals may even make you more prone to gain weight. Sure, certain types of plastic may be less bad than others. But I can never remember which ones, and it seems as if scientists are always finding out that one of the “safe” ones actually isn’t so safe. So I’m in the process of pitching all my plastic containers into the recycling bin as I replace them with glass, china, or stainless steel. And I don’t plan to replace my rolls of plastic wrap once they are used up.

Related: 11 Best Glass Food Storage Containers That Will Keep Your Lunch Fresh All Day 

You can spend a bundle on reusable storage containers, but you can also get them for free or quite inexpensively. Scope out the shelves at the supermarket for products you need anyway that come packed in glass. Some of my favorite food-storage containers once housed premium canned tomatoes! They hold about a cup and a half, are squared off so they fit into my lunchbox, fridge, and cupboard compactly, and they have a ring of sealant in the lids for a spillproof seal. I’m also partial to canning jars—especially “wide-mouth” ones—which you can buy in boxes of 12 for about a dollar per jar. Keep your shelf life simple: Save or buy jars that all use the same size lid. Store your leftovers and portable meals in glass jars and you will make less trash, save dollars on disposable containers, and keep toxins out of your food. (Here are 9 genius ways to store your garden produce without resorting to plastic.) 

 

Be less meat-centric

Want to slenderize, clean up the planet, and save some dough, all at the same time? Buy half as much meat as you usually do, and spend some of the money you save on organic fruits and veggies. Serve smaller portions of meat, try meatless dishes like this high-protein vegetarian chili, and reserve your meat budget for high-quality, organic and/or grassfed meat that gives you a tastier bang for your buck. Eating more fruit and vegetables is not only a proven way to reduce health risks and lose weight, it also reduces support for confinement animal-feeding operations (CAFOs) that produce more than their fair share of greenhouse gasses.

Add more veggies to your diet with this simple roasting technique:

Get fit for free

Any given stairwell is a potential gym, and it’s not only free, sometimes it will take you somewhere you needed to go anyway. Walk (or run) up and down stairs instead of going to the gym to use the Stairmaster, and you save the cost of a gym membership as well as the time and gas it takes to drive to the gym and back. You can also step up and down off the bottom step while you listen to your favorite music. Or find or build a sturdy, stable wooden platform and step up and down off it in front of your favorite TV show for 30 minutes once a day. Of course, using the stairs instead of the elevator when you can—even for part of the trip—goes without saying.

 

Related: 7 Incredible Things That Happen When You Walk For 30 Minutes A Day

If it’s motivation that keeps you from exercising, use peer pressure to your advantage. Find a couple of friends and form a walking or workout club a that meets over a couple of lunch hours every week. Team up with a dog-owning friend in your neighborhood to walk together in the early morning, or after dinner. Help an elderly or physically challenged neighbor with active tasks on a regular basis (yard work, grocery shopping, house cleaning, and so forth). Or volunteer with a local nonprofit group. You get free exercise, you meet interesting people, and you feel that inner glow from knowing you’ve helped someone out.

Stumped for an exercise program? Check out free fitness instruction. The internet is a rich source of free instructional exercise videos and workout. Look for workouts that rely on your own body weight and/or inexpensive equipment like the 5 best free YouTube workouts for busy parents, or anyone who hates the gym