New Year’s resolutions for a green 2020

Eco-friendly New Year's resolutions
Photo credit nito100/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — From Greta Thunberg to the Green New Deal, it’s been — dare we say it – an electrifying year for environmental awareness.

The secondhand clothing industry surpassed fast fashion in growth for the first time. Businesses and banks started calculating carbon costs. And though we may not have started growing burgers on trees, more and more people are opting for plant-based meats.

Take a long view at the next year, if not the next decade, and consider how we can all maintain the momentum toward preserving the planet. We like to call it 1Thing we can all do, but if you’re revising your list of New Year’s resolutions, there are actions you can take on a daily, monthly or once-in-a-while basis.

“Educate yourself,” suggested Jared Pashko of Philadelphia, a solar sales consultant with Solar States. “Learn that going solar is good for the pocket as well as for the environment. Learn that there are laws that will make a big environmental impact that need your support. Learn that you can insulate your attic with old newspaper clippings and drastically reduce your heat offset.

“There are so many useful tidbits that you can pick up along the way. We often are looking for the one big resolve-all solution, and maybe if we all consistently make some small, incremental steps in our daily lives, we’d make a lot of progress as a community.”

Here are some more resolutions we collected in recent conversations with people who work in businesses or organizations in the Philadelphia area that focus on solutions to some gnarly environmental problems. If you have the dedication, you can find some inspiration below:


“When you’re driving and leaving the stoplight, you don’t need to accelerate so much. That’s where everybody’s inefficiency comes from. If you simply accelerate just a little bit less, then you increase your miles per gallon. If everybody would do that, we’d significantly reduce our vehicle energy expenditure.”

— Ben Foster, volunteer at Briar Bush Nature Center


“Another way to get rid of the plastic: bar soap for your body, bar soap for your shampoo, even conditioner bar soap is out there. You’ll get rid of a lot of plastic bottles for personal products that way.”

— Angel Belka, board member, Briar Bush Nature Center


“The factory farming industry is very wasteful and impacts not only specific animals but the environment, taking out massive quantities of land and water. So try to cut your consumption of meat — even just a Meatless Monday will make a difference.”

— Abby Tabas, Cheltenham High School Environmental Club and Political Education and Action Club


“Add a rain barrel to your gutter system.”

— Patrick Eddis, Springfield Township Environmental Advisory Commission


“Become more educated about the climate crisis and realize that there are things that you can do. It can be incredibly terrifying when you think about it, but once you learn how you can help, it becomes a little less scary. Attend a strike for climate — there’s going to be a global strike in April, so mark it off on you calendar and get your voice out there and get the message that we’re fighting for out there.”

— Atara Saunders, Youth Climate Strike


“Clean your plate!”


“You can communicate with your representatives, and that communication matters. So, write an email to your senators, to your congressperson; make a phone call to their offices; say something nice to the person who takes that call; be kind and polite and tell them what you’re concerned about and what you need and ask them for a price on pollution. They count every one of those calls and they need lots of them before they have the political backing to do what needs to be done.”
— Amy Tecosky-Feldman, Bucks-Mont Citizens Climate Lobby


“We are betting on democracy to solve the climate crisis. Call your legislator and ask them: Please co-sponsor HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.”

— Bill Mettler, Bucks-Mont Chapter Citizens Climate Lobby


“Take the time to think about your own energy usage and reflect on that a little bit to see where you are and are not being wasteful. And then, you can start making some improvements.”

— Wes Checkeye, Evoke Solar Lehigh Valley


“Basic resolution is turning off my appliances, turning down my heat when I’m not going to be home — they make a difference. We research usage rates — for example buildings that are trying to go green — and yet we see occupants don’t do anything to change their daily habits. That’s inspired me to pay more attention to mine.”

— Rachel Cirino, Evoke Solar


“My 2020 resolution is to have a conversation with at least one new person every week about the urgency of the climate crisis and ways they can get involved. The more we have these conversations, the more people we can mobilize to join the fight for a livable climate and a future powered by 100% renewable energy.”

— Amanda Lapham, climate defender organizer, PennEnvironment


“My suggestion for a New Year’s resolution is to consume less and be a conscious consumer. Think before you buy, and decide if you really need it or it's an impulse buy. Switch to reusables where you can — water bottles, coffee cups, bamboo silverware for your purse and straw. Get outside in nature. I've been hiking a minimum of one day per month on a trail and it's helped me connect with nature, relieve stress and exercise.”
— Julie Hancher, co-founder and editor-in-chief, Green Philly


“The most important resolution is for people to be politically active. We can try to reduce our use of everything, especially plastics, but let’s make sure that everyone we know is registered to vote, make sure that they do vote, and make sure that we hold our elected representatives accountable and engage in the political process. If you care about clean water, for example, be involved in an environmental organization or an organization that does that kind of work, and that can help (you) learn more about (whether) elected officials are being responsive. And then go talk to them! It’s not hard to go talk to an elected official and say, ‘I care about clean water, what are you doing for it?’ We need to make sure that we’re holding our elected officials accountable because it’s our voices and their action that’s going to make the changes that we all need to have happen collectively.”
— Julie Slavet, executive director, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership