NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

15 Ways to Stop Climate Change in the New Year

Want to know how you can stop climate change this year through your New Year’s resolutions? Here we offer 15 things you can do today, this month, and throughout the year.
Posted on
December 16, 2022
15 Ways to Stop Climate Change in the New Year

It’s the New Year and there’s no better time to set goals for the year ahead. While New Year’s resolutions have often centered around personal health, why not expand your plans to improve the health of the planet, too?

Commitments made to the Earth in January can help fuel solutions to climate change through 2023, and beyond.  

There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint, ranging from a simple product replacement to overhauling your diet. But being realistic about how much change you can commit to will help ensure your resolutions don’t end up in the landfill come February.

Small consistent actions can be powerful over the course of a year, and gradually lead to lasting improvements for you—and the Earth. If you’re not sure how you can stop climate change for 2023, here we offer 15 options, from easy changes you can start today to longer-term commitments you can incorporate over the entire year.    

Resolutions to stop climate change that you can start today

Looking for some easy wins to jumpstart your climate-friendly lifestyle after a hectic holiday season? Re-energize your efforts to stop climate change with the resolutions below that make light work of being a climate change warrior.

1. Tidy up your email inbox

If your email inbox is already cluttered with promotions and newsletters you never read, you’ll be motivated to stick to this resolution. It’s hard to imagine, but every email sent and received uses electricity. The internet, after all, is reliant on physical infrastructure to function. While one email doesn’t amount to much, when multiplied by the thousands we each receive and send, it adds up. 

You can cut your own carbon footprint by deleting unnecessary emails, unsubscribing from irrelevant email lists, emptying your junk folder regularly, and cutting back your use of the “cc” button.

2. Review your regional recycling guidelines

Give yourself a primer on what you can, and can’t, recycle in your area. Did you know your takeout pizza box can’t be recycled? But they can often go in your compost bin! What other small pointers might you be missing out on? 

Three basic guidelines to help ensure you recycle properly are: clean your recyclable containers; avoid tossing plastic in the blue bin just because it looks like it’s recyclable (also called “wishcycling”); and, check with your municipality for specific recycling guidelines. 

3. Turn off the faucet to reduce your water use

This goal is mostly about adjusting your habits. How often do we leave the water running without thinking about it? Water usage affects your carbon footprint in a couple of ways – from heating the water, and from the infrastructure and energy required to treat and transport it to your home.

A tried-and-true method y to reduce your carbon footprint is to turn off your faucet more often, such as when you’re brushing your teeth, cleaning your face, or washing dishes. And consider taking a shower over a bath—studies show that five-minutes in the shower uses 10 to 25 gallons of water, compared to about 70 gallons needed to fill up your tub. 

Resolutions to stop climate change that you can do this month

Ready to build some momentum on your efforts to stop climate change in the New Year? Here are some ideas to strengthen your resolve to fight global warming that can be added over the course of a month.

4. Try eating more plants (and less meat)

Minimizing meat consumption on your menu is one of the most impactful ways to stop climate change through your diet, but it’s not necessarily easy. One simple tactic to cut your foodprint is to add more greens to your dinner plate and reduce your usual meat portion. 

Make it fun by experimenting with new dishes—vegetarian soups are especially versatile and the perfect cozy dish for winter evenings. If you don’t want to commit fully, try one month instead. You can go full vegan with Veganuary and enjoy the support of a community of similar-minded foodies.

5. Ditch the shampoo bottle for the shampoo bar

Most of us know we should buy less plastic. One easy way to help reduce plastic in your life? Switch your shampoo bottle for a bar. Most shampoo bars are sold with little to no packaging and can last for more than 50 washes, when properly drained and dried between use (invest in a good soap holder). It’s an easy win when we consider how often most of us replenish our shampoo supply. Those plastic bottles quickly add up over a year. Yet a zero-waste shampoo bar leaves no trace. As a bonus, it’s one less liquid to pack when you fly carry-on only.

6. Reconsider your toilet paper

If there’s one product none of us can go without, it’s toilet paper (remember those empty shelves during the pandemic?). Try swapping your usual brand with more eco-friendly toilet paper—an increasing variety of options are now on grocery store shelves and online. Those traditional rolls of white paper are often crafted from trees that grow in the Canadian Boreal forest. One million acres of the forest are clear-cut every year with a portion of that going toward TP (most is cut for lumber production). 

Look for alternative brands that manufacture 100 per cent recycled toilet paper or are bamboo-based. If you want to cut your overall reliance on TP, you can always install a bidet on your toilet.

7. Get inspired with a new podcast on climate change

Knowledge is power—the more you know about climate change, the easier it can be to stick to your commitments, as well as explain your actions to others who ask: why would you do that? With the issue of global warming constantly evolving, you can stay in the know by subscribing to a podcast on how to stop climate change. 

8. Become a member of your local library

Signing up to your neighbourhood library doesn’t just give you access to as many books as you can check out—they’re also bountiful resources for borrowing items like DVDs, audiobooks, musical instruments, eLearning courses, and even printing services (depending on what’s available in your nearby branch). You could even argue that libraries run a circular economy, as they eliminate waste by reusing and repurposing resources that are shared in the community— not to mention being able to save a few dollars here and there when you borrow instead of buy.

Read more: 24 sustainable ways to save money and the planet in 2023

9. Find your niche on social media

If you already spend a good deal of your time on TikTok, Instagram or other social media platform, why not use it as part of your commitment to stop climate change? Individuals and organizations committed to climate change solutions abound online. Investigate what’s out there and follow those that inspire you to fight global warming and stay optimistic about your efforts. 

You can also use your own social media account to influence climate change. You can post something as simple as showing off your latest shampoo bar purchase, to making a video on how you made your own almond milk. Get creative!

Resolutions for climate change that you can do this year

Throughout the year, look for opportunities to level up your green living game. Here are some simple ideas to play your part in stopping climate change.

10. Shop your wardrobe

Seasons may change, but your wardrobe doesn’t have to. Fall back in love with items you already own rather than fill your online cart with more of the same. What’s more, the resale market is booming, with digital platforms like ThredUp, Depop and Poshmark ready to help you sell your preloved wears. 

It’s no secret that a tremendous amount of clothing ends up in landfills. By limiting how much you buy, and donating or selling what you no longer want, you can contribute toward a circular economy that aims to reuse, repurpose, repair, and re-manufacture materials and products for as long as possible. 

11. Dig the earth with gardening ideas

This spring and summer, focus your green thumb on native plants to grow pollinator-friendly gardens that build and sustain biodiversity in your region. You can also grow edible plants such as fresh herbs, lettuce, tomato, and zucchini (great options for budding gardeners). Another benefit to digging in the dirt? You might just grow an even greater appreciation for the Earth.

12. Adjust your thermometer

Lowering your thermostat by one or two degrees in the winter is an easy adjustment that helps reduce your household’s carbon footprint with minimal effort. You may want to have blankets handy around the house, and wear an extra sweater on those extra cold days—but like any change, you’ll get used to it over time. If you notice cold drafts around the house, seal them up with weather stripping or caulking. This won’t will not only reduce the amount of energy your furnace uses to heat the house, it’ll help keep the temperature consistent, and you warm. 

And for extra bonus points, consider installing a smart thermostat to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Some provinces also offer rebates to help with the cost of switching—take a look at the Natural Resources Canada website to see if you qualify.   

13. Be a sustainable tourist when you travel

It can be so easy to drop all our daily habits when we vacation. But caring for the Earth is equally important everywhere on the globe. If you’re planning a trip this year, consider ways to be a sustainable tourist, including how you pack (reusable water bottle, shampoo bar), how you travel (try economy seats), and where you stay (opt for eco-friendly). Treat your hotel as you would your home by turning off lights and air conditioning when you step out, having short showers, and hanging towels so they’re not laundered unnecessarily.

14. Walk or bike to places more often

When possible, and time avails, leave the car in the driveway and walk or ride your bike for a more climate-friendly commute from A to B. Whether to a grab a coffee, get groceries, meet a friend for lunch, or return a book to the library, ask yourself if you can get there by foot or bike. Of course, there will be times when the answer is a clear no—but you may find once you get used to the practice of taking longer to complete your to-do list, it’s not as challenging as you once thought to grab the handlebars and pedal to your destination. 

15. Get outside and take a hike

Heading outside to explore nature is an oft-overlooked way to help stop climate change. But what better way to connect with the Earth than to immerse yourself in it? Try new trails, visit your local conservation areas, and commit to hiking every season of the year (just add bundles as the temperatures dip). Slowing down to appreciate nature may help manage symptoms of eco-anxiety that can surface when we get too bogged down in the climate change fight. Take a break and let Mother Nature guide you.

Consistent efforts can make a big impact on climate change

Start the New Year with a fresh perspective on how you can be part of the climate change solution. Resolutions you commit to in January don’t need to fall by the wayside come February if you’re realistic with your goals. Remember, many small, consistent changes often have the biggest impact.

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Danielle Leonard
Written By
Danielle Leonard

Danielle Leonard is a lifestyle writer and editor based in the GTA whose favourite earth-loving pastimes are tending to her vegetable gardens, riding her bike and advocating against urban sprawl.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada, RBC Ventures Inc., or its affiliates.

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