It’s that time of year again when change is in the air, and most people think about changing just one little habit—one tiny habit or aspiration that they promise themselves to fulfill within the brand new year. Yes, I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions!
Did you know that people didn’t start making New Year’s resolutions about appearances, health, jobs, and the like until the 20th century? Before the Great Depression New Year’s resolutions revolved around chivalry, morality, and gratitude for a new year. Here are some New Year’s resolutions ideas to show your gratitude and kindness toward the Bay and your neighbors (including wildlife):
1. Sort your garbage. Many Bay Area residents do not know how to sort their garbage (even I get confused—what do you do with small amounts of cooking oil?). However, in San Francisco there was a mandatory recycling and compost ordinance passed in 2009 to comply with the city’s goal of zero waste by 2020. Creating a zero waste system causes a cascading effect in the Bay Area. If there is less garbage, there is less energy being used, less energy means less resources being used, and you get the point. Here in the Bay Area it is a privilege to have garbage, recycling, and compost services at your front door. If you don’t already have this service you can get it provided to you by Recology.
To begin your journey to zero waste, educate yourself about what can and cannot by recycled or composted [hint: #1. Look on the package they usually say if it can be recycled #2. If plastic has a 1 or 2 on the bottom it is 100% recyclable, you might even be able to save it for the California Redemption Value (CRV)]. To make sorting easier, pre-sort your items by creating separate bins out of milk crates and/or buckets and labeling them with appropriate disposable items. This might seem like a big task, but once you become familiar with your personalized system it’s a breeze.
2. Carry your own reusable bag. I will admit this can be a tricky one. If you aren’t already in the habit of bringing your own bag to the store it can be tough to transition. Have no fear, there are ways to remember to bring your bag every single time.
– Keep 2-3 in your car
– Place the bags by the door as a reminder to return them to your car
– Keep one on your keychain
– Put one in your backpack, purse, or pocket
– Write it on your grocery list as a reminder to bring it
3. Switch cleaning, beauty and other household products. I won’t list all of the chemicals that can be found in household products such as laundry detergent, noxious bathroom cleansers, toothpaste, face creams and washes, but apparently some companies won’t either. Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have any regulations on most beauty products (meaning companies can put whatever they want in it). These chemicals wash down our drains and into the Bay. For more information on what effects these contaminants have on the Bay, check out our blog post here.
4. Quit smoking. Save the Bay’s Butt Free Bay campaign took off last year creating awareness in cities such as El Cerrito, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Mateo. Littered cigarette butts plague Bay Area waters by releasing toxins from their non-biodegradable filters. They harm wildlife and can even cause children that are playing in public parks to become ill if ingested. Even cigarette butts that are “properly” disposed of end up in landfills. There are many steps that can be taken to stop smoking, find one that works for you. Smokefree.gov has an awesome program that sends you advice and encouragement via text message. Even better, have a friend or family member text you. It’s a New Year! Stop smoking, get healthy, and create a healthier Bay.
5. Purchase a water filter and non-BPA reusable water bottle. Bottled water is convenient, but they are not always as fresh and clean as companies claim them to be (nor is it bottled from the source), and the plastic bottles end up in landfills or recycle bins and never biodegrade. There are some potential contaminants that can end up in bottled water. There are also potential contaminants in tap water. The best way to have fresh water at your fingertips is to purchase a water filter and fill up a liter sized non-BPA reusable water bottle.