Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions for 2020

Image: Yarra City Council

The new year is almost here, and many of us are making plans to take a month off from drinking or sign up for a gym membership. But your New Year’s resolution doesn’t need to be limited to yourself. This year, why not make a resolution to alter your impact on the world and environment at large?

With our magazines and advocacy, national not-for-profit Renew works to inspire, enable and advocate for all Australians to lead sustainable lives. As we all experience another year of record-breaking temperatures and devastating bushfires, this goal is more important than ever.

The good news is that you have the power to create change. Here are Renew’s expert suggestions for seven sustainable resolutions that will allow you to change the future of your community and the environment.

Go all-electric

One of the single most impactful choices you can make to increase the sustainability of your own home is getting off gas for heating, hot water and cooking. Renew’s research has shown that electric homes not only reduce emissions, but can also save homeowners thousands of dollars a year—especially if you’re also using solar PV. If you’re undertaking a renovation or building a new home, take the opportunity to choose a new path that will save you money and reduce the use of fossil fuels. See our article in Renew magazine on the three steps to getting off gas or our summary of the gas vs. electric debate in Sanctuary magazine to get started.

Research before your appliances break

When an appliance breaks, there’s often no time to do the hours of research needed to make an informed decision about an energy and water-efficient replacement. We encourage you to take the time to look at appliance options before crisis hits. Renew magazine’s appliance buyers guide and list of considerations for each appliance can help.

Be smart about summer comfort

Meteorologists are predicting that this summer in Australia will be another record-breaker. But you can keep cool without accruing ridiculous energy bills. Though living in a well-designed and insulated home can greatly help with staying comfortable, even those in less-than-ideal houses can benefit from low-energy cooling options like ceiling fans and cross ventilation. Of course, many people will need active cooling to stay safe and comfortable in summer. Make sure to read Renew magazine’s guide to the most efficient options.

Be conscious of water use

In areas of Australia, drought is as bad as it’s ever been, and in the future the issue will only become more critical. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your water use, including installing rainwater tanks, using greywater systems and using water-saving devices in your home.

Offset your carbon use

Even if you cut down on your use of energy from the grid, most of us are still using some energy powered by unsustainable generation like coal. But by buying GreenPower or quality carbon offset credits you can make up for your usage. Renew’s Community Climate Chest or C3 allows you to buy GreenPower from a variety of renewable energy providers to replace your electricity usage from the grid. Plus, by buying carbon offsets, you can make up for emissions from other aspects of your lifestyle in addition to your home’s energy use, like flight or car emissions.

Turn your transport green

This is a thrilling time in the world of sustainable transport, with electric vehicles finally a viable option for many car owners. Renew’s in-depth electric vehicle buyers guide will give you the context you need if you’re interested in owning an EV. But even if an EV isn’t in your budget, there are plenty of ways you can make sure your transit is sustainable. By riding a bike (or an e-bike), taking public transport, or walking on a trip you’d normally drive, you can reduce emissions and enable a more sustainable future.

Get involved

One of the best ways to make an impact is to get involved in an organisation that’s active in the sustainability space. Renew has branches around Australia which regularly meet to learn from experts and take on local projects. We also run the yearly event Sustainable House Day, which allows participants to go out and see houses around Australia that have made sustainability a priority. There are many other ways to get active, from working with local organisations to change policy on issues like energy and waste, to participating in larger efforts to combat climate change, like the climate strikes. No matter how much time you have or your level of expertise, there are ways you can make a difference if you are willing to try.