As we step into a new year, many of us feel the urge to make positive changes in our lives. In a world grappling with environmental challenges like floods, fires, and erratic weather patterns, individual resolutions, even simple ones, can contribute to long-term positive impacts on our planet.
As an educator, you have a unique opportunity to inspire students to set resolutions—both as a class and individually—that prioritize environmental stewardship. Here’s a list of ideas you can share with students to help them set goals and take action that will make a difference in 2024.
1. Invest in a Reusable Water Bottle:
Both students and teachers can reduce plastic waste and contribute to preserving our oceans and the environment by purchasing and consistently using reusable water bottles.
- Fact: Each day in the U.S., more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away. Most end up in landfills, incinerators, America’s streets, parks, and waterways.
2. Cut Back on Meat & Dairy Consumption:
The meat industry significantly impacts the climate crisis, while plant-based diets, rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, offer a planet-friendly alternative. Not only are they good for the environment, but they also benefit our health!
- Fact: A global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10% and 70%, respectively, by 2050.
3. Turn off Electronics:
When idle, powering down TVs, lights, computers, and appliances significantly slashes electricity usage, leading to cost savings and curbing passive electricity consumption. By reducing energy consumption, you’re not just saving money but also minimizing your carbon footprint. This practice has a ripple effect, lessening the strain on power plants and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
- Fact: Did you know appliances slowly drain your wallet even when you’re not using them? This is known as standby power and can drive up your monthly electric bill. Unplugging these devices could save the average household up to $100 a year.
4. Switch to Reusable Grocery Bags:
Several counties and states enforce policies in grocery stores that eliminate single-use bags or charge for their usage. To adapt, purchase reusable grocery bags and store them in your car for any spontaneous shopping trips, ensuring you’re always prepared!
- Fact: The more durable a bag is, the longer it will last and be used before it ends up in a landfill. In one life cycle assessment of grocery store bags, conventional cotton totes should be reused 131 times, plastic bags 11 times, and a paper bag three times.
5. Buy Less & Embrace Thrifty Fashion:
Opt for fewer purchases or explore second-hand options. Thoughtful shopping not only saves money but also reduces landfill waste, easing the burden on our environment.
- Fact: The average American produces about 4.9 pounds of trash daily!
6. Reduce Water Usage:
Consider setting time limits for showers, shutting off the water while brushing teeth, or experimenting with cold showers. Cold showers offer health perks like boosting immunity, enhancing alertness, and reducing stress. Additionally, they contribute to a healthier planet by reducing energy consumption and water usage. (Nobody lingers in a cold shower for too long!)
- Fact: The average person uses 101.5 gallons of water per day. Ouch!
7. Spend Time in Nature:
Engaging with the natural world reinforces the significance of preserving its beauty and our beloved natural spaces! Enjoying sunshine, fresh air, and plants brings benefits to us all.
- Fact: Several studies on nature and mental health link experiences in nature to improved mood, positive social interaction, and a sense of meaning and purpose.
8. Stay Updated, Stay Positive:
Staying informed about global affairs makes you an aware citizen. However, the constant stream of negative news often discourages people from staying updated. To maintain a balance, seek a mix of positive and realistic news stories while limiting your consumption. This helps you stay informed while staying uplifted.
- Fact: Staying informed about current events, whether local, national, or global, is crucial. It deepens our understanding, connects us to important issues, and aids in personal development, decision-making, and active citizenship.
9. Invest in and Care for Plants:
Having plants not only enhances the ambiance of a room but also serves as natural air purifiers, detoxifying your indoor air and promoting a healthier environment for you. They also offer a sense of calm and connection to nature, contributing to a more pleasant living space.
- Fact: A famous NASA experiment found that indoor plants can scrub the air of cancer-causing volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde and benzene.
10. Reduce Social Media Use and Increase IRL Interactions:
In a TikTok and Instagram-driven world, it’s easy to stay glued to a screen rather than meeting up with friends in person. Spending time IRL strengthens relationships, boosts creativity, and has many health benefits (in addition to being a lot of fun!). In-person interactions are also a good opportunity for students to collaborate on environment-focused community projects and activities.
- Fact: The more time young people spend on social media, the more socially isolated they feel.
As we collectively make goals and resolutions in the days ahead, remember that each small step toward sustainability plays an important role in preserving our planet for generations to come. Together, our efforts form the foundation for a greener, more sustainable future, creating a world where positive change thrives, and environmental stewardship becomes second nature.
Embark on a Year of Impact with One Step’s Sustainable Action Tracker!
Looking to ignite your students’ commitment to #StompOutCarbon in 2024? One Step’s Sustainable Action Tracker is an integral part of our comprehensive climate education program for grades 4-12.
Empower students to track eco-friendly practices like shorter showers or composting conveniently through our app. With personalized and school-wide reports, motivate them to transform resolutions into lasting habits for a greener planet.
One Step offers a complete curriculum featuring engaging video lessons and interactive activities that seamlessly integrate across various subjects. From climate science to fostering eco-conscious choices, our program enables year-round impact and learning.
Start tracking and achieving those New Year goals today by signing up for a free 30-day trial of One Step’s classroom resources.