9 Sacrifice-Free Resolutions
For the past couple of years, we've given you tips and tricks to make your New Year's resolutions last and even provided a list of resolutions to accomplish in the next 24 hours. But for some of us, New Year's goals are viewed as an unpleasant sacrifice where one swears off chocolate or BuzzFeed. The problem is that people tend to dislike giving up what they enjoy, which leads to the demise of well-intentioned resolutions. For those of you who want a sense of achievement without the suffering, we've listed nine resolutions that don't ask you to leave behind anything you would rather keep around.
1. Add local, organic, seasonal foods to your diet. This doesn't mean you can only eat foods that satisfy these requirements -- instead, think of this as an excuse to try out more tantalizing recipes that rely on eco-friendly foods. If you don't know where to start, look up organic farms in your area to see if any participate in community supported agriculture, a program that rewards you with fresh, seasonal produce each week of the farming season.
2. Unplug appliances when not in use. It takes a matter of mere seconds to unplug the items you aren't currently using, and the benefits of reduced electricity consumption will show in a smaller household footprint and lower bills. What's better than saving two kinds of green?
3. Invest in a compost bin. A compost bin could be as low-key as a large tupperware container or a paper bag. Whether you choose to craft one or buy one, putting food scraps in the bin takes no longer than putting them in the trash, plus it has the added bonus of supporting your garden.
4. Repurpose old clothes or buy from thrift stores. Give clothes a second chance at happiness by transforming them with crafts or by finding secondhand clothing. You'll save money and work out the oft-forgotten creative side of your brain while shopping in your very own closet!
5. Find reusable tote bags, water bottles and travel mugs. Reusable bags and cups are a much more eco-friendly option than their disposable alternatives. Using these will quickly reduce your consumption, waste, and time wandering aisles at the grocery store. You can even find them in all kinds of patterns and colors to enliven your daily activities.
6. Use reusable containers and bags for lunches. In 2011 alone, the U.S. generated almost 14 million tons of plastic in the form of containers or packaging. Simply washing and saving disposable containers from the grocery for future use as food containers will build up your inventory in no time.
7. Bike or take public transit. No one enjoys being stuck in traffic. Reduce your stress by biking to work or taking public transportation more often. Even if you're the only one in your family who switches to public transit, you'll decrease household emissions by 10 percent, and likely save time in your daily traveling. Biking will also boost your endorphins, and make you eligible for a tax-free subsidy.
8. Print thoughtfully. Before you press the "Print" button, take a moment to think about whether you need a hard copy, or if an electronic version would suffice. When you do print, easily cut down the number of pages by printing double-sided or decreasing margin or font size. Encourage friends and coworkers to do the same and challenge each other to save a certain amount of pages throughout the week for added fun.
9. Get outside more. This can be as easy as strolling around the block or walking the dog more often. However you choose to spend more time in nature, make it happen in 2014. Even a few minutes outside will lift your spirits and decrease your anxiety. Get in some quality time with friends and family and you'll hardly notice that you're completing a resolution with each step!
--Image via iStockphoto/Tomwang112
Jessica Zischke is an editorial intern at Sierra. She is currently studying environmental studies at Dartmouth College, where she also works as a staff writer for The Dartmouth newspaper.