For New Years, consider these resolutions to save the world. I call these no-fail resolutions, too, because you can take action right now that will help ensure that you meet your goal. Anything you can do to automate or design the resolutions into your life from the start will increase your odds of success.
Donate to Charity
There is no shortage of need, and there are many worthy changes. Make your resolution to donate (or donate a little more) to a charity of your choice in the coming year.
Make it No-Fail: Set up a monthly recurring withdrawal right now. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount. Make it a priority, and figure out how to fit it into your budget. If you need help picking a charity, check out givewell.org — they evaluate charities based on their effectiveness and ability to use additional funds.
Use Less Energy
I’d like to continue to live on a pre-apocolyptic Earth, and I also like to save money, so using less energy is a win-win for me. If that sounds good to you, too, then give this resolution a try.
Make it No-Fail: Think small steps and take one of them right away. Set your thermostat one degree lower in the winter or one degree higher in the summer. Done, resolution achieved. There’s still time to join our Winter Thermostat Challenge, too.
Expose Yourself to More Good
It is easy to see the bad in the world: it seems to dominate a lot of the news. Some of my blog topics can be a bit of a bummer. I think it is important to remember that there is a lot of good in the world, too. If you feel like you don’t see enough of that, make your resolution to expose yourself to more of it.
Make it No-Fail: Subscribe to DailyGood.Org or a similar site that provides uplifting stories, and you’ll start seeing more of the good automatically.
Use Less Water
Do you ever just think about how freaking cool it is that we just turn a handle and fresh, clean, water comes pouring out? And that it is ridiculously inexpensive — at least where I live. Meanwhile, there are places still where people have to walk for miles to get water, and it’s probably not fresh.
You may live in an area where water scarcity is already a concern (e.g., diminishing aquifers, increasing droughts), in which case, you should definitely make this resolution. It’s also a worthwhile resolution if there isn’t a pressing need, because it can still help reduce energy usage (see above) in pumping, processing, or heating water; and it does help us conserve what is, still, a limited resource.
Make it No-Fail: Buy a water-saving gadget and install it. They are relatively cheap and easy, and then it’s just mindless New Year’s resolution glory after that. Three that we have used in our home: a lower flow showerhead that actually feels like it has some force behind it, a bag that goes in older style toilets to reduce the flush reservoir capacity, and a gismo that stops the shower water flow once it reaches a certain temperature with a pull chain to get it going once you are ready to hop in.
note: the showerhead linked above is not the exact model that we bought years back, but it is the same manufacturer with similar specifications. Also, this showerhead still uses the new federal maximum 2.5 gallons per minute (i.e., not technically low-flow), but that was a drastic improvement over the 6gpm firehose showerhead that we had before.
Expand Your Mind
Learning and improving your own mind can make the world a little bit better place, especially if you pick something that raises your awareness or increases your effectiveness and helping the rest of the world.
Make it No-Fail: Check out the book list on our resources page right now, pick one out, and get it from the library or Amazon (use our links, and we get a small commission). If you don’t have much time to read, see if you can get it on audiobook. Read / listen to a book. Done. New Years resolution down in January, already.
Expand Your Perspective
It’s easy for all of us to get into our own bubbles or echo chambers. Most of the people that I interact with on a daily basis are either directly related to me or pretty much just like me. Advertising, news, and search algorithms are increasingly tailoring themselves to whatever my interests and perspectives are, so I don’t see outside my bubble unless I deliberately make an effort to. You can make a resolution in the coming year to get out of your bubble a little more and try to see a perspective other than what you are usually exposed to.
Make it No-Fail: Subscribe to something outside of your usual sphere, today. Spend a little time right now to find something (a blog, magazine, Facebook page, etc.). Think about your race, gender, sexual orientation, income class, political affiliations, etc. and seek out something “not you.” Subscribe, so that you put this on auto-pilot. And then, just read / listen.
Spread More Kindness
Nobody has ever said, “You know what this world needs? Less kindness.” Make your resolution this year to spread a little bit more, and let that positive energy spread.
Improve Your Recycling
I found out that I had been trying to recycle things that I shouldn’t as well as missing opportunities to recycle things that I should. Improving your own behavior at the recycle bin improves things downstream at the sorting facility and recycling plants. This reduces the cost and makes it economically possible for us as a society to recycle more things and save more raw resources and energy.
Make it No-Fail: Read my blog post, visit Recycle Across America’s site, or review your own local recycling guides right now. You will probably learn at least one thing that improves your recycling, and you can carry that with you the rest of the year.
Offset Your Carbon Footprint
Again with the global warming and environment and stuff, I know. It’s real, it’s going to suck, and we should probably be doing more about it. Make a resolution to offset your carbon emissions.
Make it No-Fail: Check out my blog post on figuring up my fair share for carbon emissions. Even if you choose not to follow my approach and rough math, there are still some good footprint calculators and offset options linked up. Calculate up your footprint, and then set up a one-time or recurring charge that will take care of your offset. Done, don’t think about it any more. Or, if you choose to think about it, take more steps to truly reduce your own emissions or advocate for change at the systems and governmental level.
Eat Less Mammal Meat
For reference on why you should probably make this a resolution, check out our Eat Better, Save the World post. It comes down to environmental, ethical, and health concerns. Some of those can be mitigated by getting quality sourced meat, so you could modify this resolution to eat less “bad” meat (hint: anything that you get at a drive-through, for a start).
Make it No-Fail: Start small, and start today. You don’t have to go straight to tofurky, or anything. Get a smaller size (single vs. double, 6 ounce vs. 8 ounce) or split between two meals (either sharing with another or with your future self), and then fill that gap with some vegetables (sure, french fries count for the sake of this, but maybe consider something else). Buying snacks for a party? Get the chicken taquitos instead of the beef. Substitute in a turkey burger patty for a hamburger patty at one meal.
Thank you for reading, and a Happy New Year!