Another year has passed. As we enter January and start a brand new year, it’s a great time for reflection. While I believe that any changes, big or small, can happen all year long, there’s something that’s a little bit different when it comes to starting a new year. It’s almost as if there’s a clean slate. It’s time to start fresh. Have you thought about incorporating any green New Years resolutions into your life?
Posts may be sponsored. Post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated if you make a purchase using my link.
As I write new and improved travel New Year’s resolutions each and every year (feel free to browse my old ones: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015), they’ve all tended to follow a similar path. Exercise more. Try new things. Learn something new. Travel more.
This year, I’m trying something a little bit different. It’s no secret that our planet is in a state of climate crisis. I won’t go into any startling statistics or facts to prove that this is the case. There’s so much information out there about this. Greta Thunberg is TIME’s Person of the Year as young people (and people of all ages) call for global action on climate change. But, what can we do? What can one person do to make a difference?
While it’s absolutely necessary that governments and corporations make massive changes, we can all do our part. That’s why this year, I’m writing about my green New Years resolutions. These are the sustainable resolutions, the environmental resolutions, and the small lifestyle changes we can make at home and abroad. With these green New Years resolutions, I hope to inspire you to think about your New Year’s resolutions for travel and daily living. Maybe we share some of the same challenges and goals?
Here are my top 10 green New Years resolutions to live in a more sustainable, eco-friendly, and responsible way. Hopefully, they have a kind and positive effect on myself, all living creatures, and our planet.
Spend Time in Nature (And Leave No Trace)
One of my top green New Years resolutions is to spend more time in the great outdoors. As a full time travel blogger, most of my hours are logged behind screens: my laptop, my smartphone, and Netflix breaks, naturally. I want to incorporate more hiking into my life by continuing my Bruce Trail hikes while at home, and exploring new natural places abroad.
It’s extremely important to leave no trace in the wild. You know the saying: take only pictures, leave only footprints. I’m sure it goes without saying, but please don’t litter. Don’t take any flowers. Don’t venture off the path onto sensitive areas, especially if there are signs. Follow the rules, please! In fact, one of my new sustainable resolutions will be to bring a bag along on my hikes to collect any garbage that I see in order to dispose of it properly.
Go Vegan If You Haven’t Already
I’ve followed a vegan lifestyle for over 10 years now, and it’s one of the best environmental resolutions you can make. If you’re looking for one of my top recommended green New Years resolutions, please eat less meat. Consume fewer animal products. Eat more plants. Going vegan is one of the best things that you can do for the planet. Here are a few startling statistics:
- It conserves water. It takes 460 gallons of water to to produce one hamburger, or 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Furthermore, it takes 1000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. It’s extremely inefficient. Animal agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of all US water consumption.
- It cuts greenhouse gas emissions. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than the exhaust from all transmission combined.
- Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution, ocean dead zones, and habitat destruction.
- It creates an incredible amount of waste. Every minute, seven million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the USA. A farm with 2500 cows produces the same amount of waste as a city with 411,000 people.
- Still eating fish? Think again. We are over-fishing and could see fishless oceans by the year 2048. For every pound of fish caught, up to five pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for the destruction of 91% of the Amazon rainforest.
If you think that it’s impossible to travel as a vegan, allow me to prove you wrong! It’s one topic that I specialize in writing about on this blog. Check out all of my vegan guides and vegan travel topics to see all of the delicious food you could be eating. Make choosing and preparing meatless meals a goal for your green New Years resolutions this year.
Choose Public Transportation
Whenever possible, try your best to choose public transportation for green New Years resolutions. Or, even better, ride your bike or walk on your own two feet to save emissions and get some exercise. There are lots of eco-friendly transit options when we travel. You can travel by train, which is my favorite way to get around Europe. You can also choose buses, subways, or any other mode of public transportation.
When I’m at home, I take the GO Train into Toronto from my place in Mississauga. I’ll also use the subway in the city, too. However, it isn’t always possible to use public transportation. In those situations, I will drive my car, but it is a hybrid car (a going-on 10 year old Prius).
Let’s talk about flying for a moment, shall we? It’s a pretty hotly debated topic. Can you fly and be an environmentalist? Should we stop flying places all together? I don’t think we should stop flying. Sometimes it’s only practical to fly in order to get from point A to point B. I urge you to check out this article in the New York Times, “What if all that flying is good for the planet?“. If we stopped flying all together, many places that rely on tourism might revert to practices that are devastating to the environment. For instance, flying to Tanzania to go on a safari supports their local economy and the animals are protected rather than poached. I hope that governments and corporations usher in improved standards when it comes to emissions from airplanes. In the meantime, you can consider flying less when possible or purchasing carbon offsets. But, don’t stop flying all together.
Reduce Plastic at Home and While Traveling
While reducing all plastic might seem like a huge undertaking at times, there are simple, everyday ways that we can reduce our plastic usage. When I traveled to Tanzania this year, I learned that plastic bags are banned in the country. People use cloth bags in place of plastic ones, which are reusable and much kinder to the environment. If people in other places can do it, why can’t we? It’s easy to stock up on reusable grocery bags, reusable produce bags, and even reusable sandwich and snack bags (in place of those wasteful Ziplock ones).
It might seem like a no-brainer these days to use a reusable water bottle or a travel coffee tumbler, but it’s easy to forget something like this when we travel. Bringing a water bottle or container with you helps you save money (fill your water bottle at a fountain or even from a Starbucks at the airport). It’s also really important that we don’t support companies that sell bottled water. Even in my own backyard in Canada, companies are stealing water from indigenous residents who have no access to clean water and sell it back to the masses encased in plastic, making record profits.
Wherever possible, it’s a good idea to choose products that use less plastic packaging. Some companies use so much plastic that it’s just crazy. At the grocery store alone, it drives me crazy to see produce wrapped in plastic when it’s totally not necessary. Going to a local farmer’s market is a great way to avoid so much plastic, plus you’ll get to eat fresher and tastier food. You can also find zero waste shops or bulk food stores in your area and bring your own containers.
Book a Sustainable Holiday
Okay, so you want to book an eco-friendly vacation, a green tour, or stay at a sustainable hotel. Where do you find these kinds of places and how can you be sure that they’re the real deal (and not just green-washing)? Enter Wayaj, a travel app where you can discover and explore the best eco-friendly vacations around the world.
Wayaj showcases the most sustainable and socially responsible holidays worldwide. To demonstrate just how green a resort or hotel actually is, Wayaj uses their own Eco Score rating system. There are seven main criteria to judge each accommodation on their social and environmental impact. These include:
- Community: Empowering local communities and preserving native cultures
- Energy: The way a property produces and consumes energy
- Water: What are their water conservation practices?
- Purchasing: If the property chooses to produce sustainable or locally made products
- Waste: Evaluates their waste disposal practices
- Indoors: Quality of the indoor environment and their indoor environmental plan
- Management: Health and safety for guests and employees, as well as their sustainability plan
I urge you to check out the carbon footprint calculator, which is superior to many others out there. As a traveler, you’re able to divide your trip into segments and choose the various modes of transportation that you’ll be using throughout your holiday. Next, you’ll have the opportunity to buy carbon offsets from several UNFCCC certified projects. Try their carbon footprint calculator for one of your upcoming trips to see the environmental difference you can make.
If you’re interested in traveling on more eco-friendly vacations to green resorts, hotels, and other accommodations, you should download the Wayaj app (Wayaj on Google Play for Androids and Wayaj in the App Store for iPhones). It’s a really easy way to discover green holidays no matter where you’re dreaming of traveling this year.
Choose Responsible Wildlife Tourism Attractions
I’m sure that most of you love animals, right? Or you at least don’t want to hurt animals. Unfortunately, there are many wildlife tourist attractions out there that harm animals. A lot of the abuse happens behind the scenes. You might not be aware that animals are kept in small enclosures or they’re ripped from their families in the wild. Perhaps the animals don’t thrive in certain living conditions, or they’re bred to eventually be hunted down.
I have a great listing here of wildlife attractions to avoid and what you can do instead. Here’s why you should never go swimming with dolphins, and how tourists to Iceland can help stop the whaling industry. Make your green New Years resolutions this year to become informed about animal attractions and only choose proper sanctuaries or responsible wildlife viewing opportunities.
Live a Minimalist Lifestyle
I struggle with this at times, but I’d rather live with less things than a bunch of stuff that I don’t need. Choosing a minimalist lifestyle is one of the best green New Years resolutions because you’ll be helping the environment and saving money. By buying stuff that you don’t need, you can more easily afford to live a life of travel.
Fast fashion is one of the worst culprits, and one of the top sustainable resolutions is to avoid fast fashion. The working conditions are poor for overseas employees, it’s awful for the environment, and the products are super cheap and wear out quickly. I am guilty of buying into fast fashion and shopping at these types of outlets. As one of my green New Years resolutions, I’m going to try to shop less for clothing, explore thrift stores more often, and support slow fashion trends that offer higher quality products (even if they cost a little bit more).
Choose Eco-Friendly Products
There are so many reasons to choose eco-friendly products, from cleaning products to body care products. First, choose products that are cruelty-free and don’t test on animals. There’s a lengthy list here to discover which ones test on animals and which ones don’t. You can also look for products marked as vegan, cruelty-free, or have the Leaping Bunny logo on them.
Choosing eco-friendly cleaning products for you home is also a great environmental resolution. There are so many recipes online to make your own non-toxic cleaning products for your home that will help the environment and your wallet. The same goes for bath and beauty products, too! If you don’t have time to make your own, one of my favorite local shops, Sudsatorium, is online with their cruelty-free bath and body products that are AMAZING.
Give Back and Volunteer Abroad
Another great green New Years resolution initiative is to give back while you travel. Volunteering overseas for an issue that you’re passionate about can be so rewarding. Just make sure that the volunteer project truly helps in the long term and doesn’t take jobs away from the local economy. I’ve traveled to Guatemala and Kenya on volunteer trips helping animals, and I plan to take a third volunteer trip to Nepal this year, too.
You don’t have to travel to volunteer. There are so many worthwhile places to volunteer close to home, too. Whether you’re helping at a local food bank or scooping animal poop at a nearby sanctuary, your time and effort will be appreciated by those living in your own neck of the woods.
Travel Locally, Too
Lastly, exploring your own backyard is one of my favorite green New Years resolutions for travel. You’ll be supporting local tourism and local businesses. Plus, you’ll see things in a whole new light and uncover activities and attractions that you probably didn’t even know existed. Adventures don’t need to be across the world. They can be right there waiting for you within a short distance from home. For this very reason, I aim to travel even more in my home province of Ontario and throughout Canada this year.
What do you think about these green New Years resolutions? Do you have any sustainable travel solutions or responsible travel ideas to add to the list? I want to hear all of your thoughts and ideas for how to make the world a better place at home and as we travel the world!