Eco-friendly New Year’s Resolutions

Red fireworks in the night sky over Singapore

“Team Singapore fireworks display from Singapore Fireworks Festival 2006” by Sehsuan

2017 is here, and it’s the perfect opportunity to make a few changes in your life that could help people, animals and the planet itself. So why not make some cracking eco-friendly New Year’s Resolutions for 2017.

The key to making resolutions you can keep is to pick a few – don’t go overboard with how many you are aiming for! – and make them achievable. Small, incremental goals are more likely to stick, and will still make a big difference. You can always add a few more throughout the year once you’ve got the hang of a few.

So without further ado, here are 10 eco-friendly New Years Resolutions to get started with!

Reasons for hope

Dr Jane Goodall’s reasons for hope

1. Have hope!

As part of Roots & Shoots, you’ re part of a global movement of young people who are dedicated to making the world a better place for the people in it, fighting inequality, reducing the impact we have on the environment, working to help conserve animals and ecosystems, and making those little changes that make big differences.

Every positive action you take, no matter how large or small, makes things better.

And your influence is also contagious – you’ll inspire your friends and family, your classmates, your workmates, and anyone else who hears about what you do. They’ll stop, think, and start to make those changes too.

So while there is often negative news, keep in mind that there are also many reasons for hope, and one of those big reasons is every single person out there in the global Roots & Shoots family.

2. Use less

What’s better than recycling? Not using as many resources in the first place. So this is a simple trick you can do every time you go to use something. Just think to yourself – do I really need it, or do I really need this much? For example, do I really need a new phone? Do I really need to get another plastic bag for my shopping? Do I really need to fill the kettle this much for a cup of tea? Even if the answer is sometimes yes, the chances are stopping and thinking about it will mean that often you use a little less more often than not, and use fewer resources in the process.

Not sure where to start? Our Reduce, Reuse and Recycle activity has some great pointers.


3. Recycle more

It takes just a fraction longer to send something to be recycled than it does to send it to landfill, yet the benefits are incredible.

Resources get re-used, which means fewer new resources are needed in the first place, it usually takes less energy to recycle than it takes to make something from new, and of course more things recycled means less waste in huge landfill sites.

Our advice is to get your kitchen at home, office or school set up with recycling bins so it’s even easier. Clearly labelled, you can just pop your rubbish in the right bin and hey presto! It’s already sorted and ready for the rubbish collectors to get.

quiet area with recycled sculpture


4. Buy an Eco Button

There are thousands and thousands of computers in the UK. Most homes have at least one, many have several and of course there are loads in schools, colleges and offices everywhere. Often, they are left switched on but not being used for hours a day.

Eco Button can help with this. It’s a simple device that plugs into your computer using a USB port, and one press will switch your computer into it’s most energy efficient resting mode, using less electricity, wasting less energy and saving money and CO2 in the process. To turn it back on, all you need to is press the button again.

There’s lots more information on the product, what it does and how it works on the Eco Button website.


5. Switch the lights off

If you aren’t in the habit of turning the lights off when you leave a room, then now is the perfect time to start. It can save lots of energy that is otherwise being wasted lighting a room that no-one is in. One of the complaints in the past was that eco-friendly lightbulbs took time to warm up to full brightness, but they are far quicker now so there are no excuses!

Our What Uses Energy at Home activity will give you some more ideas on where and how you can save more.


6. Carry a water bottle

Thousands of plastic water bottles are used once and thrown away each year. They end up in landfill sites, in our rivers and waterways and can even be found floating in our oceans. What a waste! Instead of buying bottles of water, carry a water bottle with you and fill it up at the tap – and you’ll save money by doing this too. You can even get water bottles that fold down to small sizes so it’s easy to fit in a bag when you aren’t using it.


7. Walk and cycle more

Popping to the shops? Heading to school? Visiting friends? If the journey isn’t far, why not walk or ride a bike instead? You’ll use less polluting fossil fuel than if you drive, and there’s lots of other benefits, like getting fresh air and excercise!

If you’re lucky enough to have forest or woodland on your route, then turn your wander into an adventure, using our What Lives in Forests activity.


8. Unplug it

Did you know things like mobile phone chargers still use electricity even when they aren’t charging a phone? That’s a terrible

waste! So if you’ve got something plugged in at the socket, unplug it or turn it off at the socket switch. If you can get into the habit of sweeping your house in the evening before bed, you’ll help cut down on the wastage. Better yet, try and get into the habit of only plugging in your charger when you need it, and unplugging it straight afterwards.

Feeling committed? Why not make an Energy Saving Pledge?

UK 3 pin plug

Unplugging things when they aren’t in use is another great way to save energy

9. Use reusable bags for your shopping

Tonnes and tonnes of plastic bags are thrown away each year, producing a huge amount of waste in landfill sites – but that’s still better than the alternative. Often, plastic bags wash into rivers and eventually into the sea, where they take a long time to break down. Until they do, they release toxic particles into the oceans, and can also be eaten by animals like fish, turtles and wales that mistake them for food. If this happens, they can end up blocking the animals digestive system so they can’t eat any more.

The best thing you can do is use reusable bags for your shopping. Many shops have stronger plastic ‘bag for life’ bags which they’ll replace for free once they break, but better yet use bags made from recycled fabric. These are stronger and will last far longer.

Our Breaking the Bag Habit activity has more info on the impact of plastic bags, plus a craft making activity to make your own reusable bag.


10. Cut down on the water

This is another simple way to save. Use less water! Switch from baths to showers as much as possible, turn the tap off while you are brushing your teeth, don’t leave the tap running while doing the washing up and make sure your toilet uses less water in each flush by using a product such as the Hippo Water Saver.

The average person in the UK uses 153 litres a day – can you cut that down with a Water Saving Pledge?


11. Join in and spread the word about Roots & Shoots!

Roots & Shoots is part of the Jane Goodall Trust, and is a charity all about helping people, animals, plants and the environment, and encouraging others to help too. We’ve got loads of activities and events to get school and youth groups involved, with lesson plans, fundraising ideas and more.

If you aren’t part of Roots & Shoots, now’s the time to get started, and if you are – spread the word!

Find out more about Roots & Shoots UK.

Jane Goodall, founder of Roots & Shoots

Jane Goodall, founder of Roots & Shoots


Posted on December 31st, 2016 by Aoife Glass

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