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Green resolutions for 2023

As one year ends and another begins, many of us like to make resolutions or set goals for the new year. As there’s no more pressing issue than our impact on the environment, here are some ideas – inspirations, perhaps – for achievable 2023 sustainability resolutions.

Do a waste audit at home or work. See what you’re throwing away each week, and check what might be reused or recycled instead of disposed of. Single-use plastic disposables are prime culprits: bottles, straws, plastic sandwich bags, and plastic razors. You can switch to reusable alternatives or investigate local recycling opportunities.

An increasing number of strategies look to recycle waste that would previously have gone to the landfill. See if there are drop-off spots near you.

Switch to rechargeable batteries wherever possible. Battery waste is especially difficult to deal with in an environmentally responsible fashion. This is particularly relevant for parents, guardians or those buying for children, where every second toy seems to require at least three AAA batteries.

Cut down on your paper towel use. If every U.S. household used just one less 70-sheet paper towel roll each year, more than half a million trees would be saved.

And that’s not taking into account the water required to make paper towels – estimated at around 20,000 gallons for a ton of paper. Reduce your use, and switch to eco-friendly toilet paper where you can, too.

Just as auditing your household or business waste is a useful exercise to see what could be recycled or replaced, auditing your water use can reveal important potential efficiencies. Could you benefit from doing one less dishwasher load a week or using cold water for your laundry? In your garden, if you have one, could you introduce drought-tolerant plants or utilize smart irrigation?

Businesses and organizations can commit to upgrading their irrigation systems and introducing weather-based sensors, which ensure plants and lawns are neither under- nor over-watered.

Shopping locally is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and supports small businesses near you. Please be sure to look for retailers that source their products locally, where possible.

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or green yard space, investigate options for growing your own food. See what fruits or vegetables might be feasibly cultivated. You can save a little money, reduce transportation impacts and costs, and both kids and adults can learn about natural lifecycles.

Even if growing food is out of the question, you can encourage wildlife with a bug hotel or bird feeder and discover more about the nature around us.

Volunteering is a great way to give a truly valuable resource: your time. Find a local organization helping to make a difference, whether through a clean-up program, a recycling initiative, a campaign to save important wildlife, or any sustainability or green issue you feel passionately about. You could also raise funds for an eco charity to help increase awareness of environmental issues.

You don’t even need to do any of this in a particularly formal way, either. You could make your voice heard by becoming an active participant in your workplace or school as a voice for change and sustainability, a champion if you will.

A.J. van de Ven is president and CEO of Carlsbad-based smart irrigation company Calsense and a board member of the nonprofit ECOLIFE Conservation.