January 3, 2024
By Erin Parker, Interpretive Services Supervisor
As the winter holidays come to a close and we start looking forward to 2024, perhaps some of us are considering ways that we can live more sustainably in the New Year. January is a great time to rethink our rhythms and routines, and consider if they are supporting our bigger goals. This time of reflection and planning provides an opportunity to start making small changes that will add up to something large by the end of the year. Often the smaller the change, the easier it is to stick with it!
Actions for a greener 2024
What areas of your life could be greener? There’s no right answer and everyone’s journey to environmental sustainability looks completely different. Consider if there are actions that feel meaningful to you, fit within your budget, and also that feel manageable and not onerous. Think about what resources or information you might need to take steps and get started.
Possible places to start:
- Can you reduce single-use plastic? Ways that you can take steps to reduce disposable plastic include:
- Reusing bags for grocery shopping (whether those are cloth, paper, or plastic);
- Requesting no plastic utensils in take-out orders and/or keeping a set of reusable silverware with you when you’re on the go
- Selecting not to use a disposable plastic straw when its not necessary
- Reusing or repurposing containers from deli and take-out orders
- Packing a lunch and/or snacks in reusable containers
- Making or purchasing reusable bags for your lunch/snacks/etc
- Bringing and using a mug and water bottle
- Trying solid shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and soaps that replace plastic bottles
- Can you reduce kitchen waste? Steps that could help you take action here include:
- Composting kitchen scraps in a backyard compost area
- Creating a worm bin with red wigglers that can consume kitchen scraps
- Plan out your shopping and meals to take advantage of produce before it spoils
- Putting cut-up produce front-and-center in the fridge so that it doesn’t get lost in the crisper drawer
- Take leftovers for lunches the next day instead of letting them languish
- Can you drive less often or fewer miles? Ways to reduce driving could incorporate:
- Walking and biking some errands when possible
- Considering public transportation where it is available
- Stacking errands to reduce trips
- Negotiating a work-from-home day or days each week
- Can you reduce lawn grass and increase habitat, water and carbon storage, and wildlife value?
- Select a small area to start and smother the grass with recycled cardboard and leaves, saving yourself the work of pulling out tough turf grass in the spring
- Add indigenous flowering plants and grasses to existing garden beds or border gardens and start slowly removing the lawn around the edges
- Planting pollinator plants in pots for your balcony or windowsill
- Turning water-collecting low spots in the lawn into rain gardens
Join your Metroparks in having a greener 2024
Your Metroparks are also working to take steps towards more sustainable actions in 2024 and beyond. Some places where you might notice changes include: increasing our “no mow” zones in parks, reducing mowing and other gas-powered activities during ozone action days, diversifying our tree population, and considering how to address garbage, recycling, and composting within different areas of our parks.
There are many steps that we can take if we want to resolve to have a greener 2024- what action will you take in your own life?