There’s a time-honored tradition of reflection and resolution this time of year.
The seemingly fresh start of a new year – this new year in particular – is an opportune chance to reflect on what we’ve learned from the major climate events of the year, namely the IPCC report and COP 26 conference, and use them as inspiration.
These events further catapulted the urgency of the crisis onto the international stage and illuminated it with a glaring spotlight, as we were told by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres that this is “code red for humanity” and that “the alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.”
We should use these warnings as fuel this year to propel new lifestyle changes in 2022. There are always things we can do to improve as we wait for governments and corporations to limit their own emissions, but there is also no harm in encouraging them to pick up the pace via connecting with your representatives and contacting brands, as we are quickly encroaching on a temperature 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, which will induce suffering on those of us living on Earth.
I invite you to include as many of the following habits into your new year as possible because, as was written in the New York Times, “The science is clear: The world is warming dangerously, humans are the cause of it, and a failure to act today will deeply affect the future of the Earth.” Overall, reducing can be hugely influential, and should be prioritized before reducing and recycling:
• Participate in Bexley’s curbside food-waste recycling program. If you already do so, vow to contribute less by actively reducing the amount of food that is uneaten in your home. Eat all edible food and attempt to discard only things like pits, peels, bones and shells. Information is available at greenbexley.org/food and you may sign up at bexley.org/food-waste.
• Think twice before buying. Buy only things that will be well-loved for years to come, and buy items made of quality materials that will be durable and withstand use. When possible, opt for new-to-you, vintage options and, secondly, sustainably made items. Learn more at greenbexley.org/buy.
• Contribute to sustainable agri-food systems by purchasing food farmed responsibly and regeneratively. Go to greenbexley.org/food to learn why this is imperative.
• Reduce pollution by laundering and washing your car sustainably, protect our waterways and reduce runoff and be more conscientious about your water use by reusing. See greenbexley.org/water for more details.
• Plant native plants to restore the health of the soil and pollinator population.
• Encourage others to live sustainably and continue learning and implementing environmentally-conscious strategies in your life.
Elizabeth Ellman is chair of Bexley’s Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee, of which Green Bexley is an initiative.