15 Resolutions You Could Make for a Happier, Lower-Impact 2019

Public Domain. MaxPixel

Reducing your carbon footprint and building community go hand-in-hand toward creating a better planet.

On this last day of the year, you'll always find me pondering which resolutions to make for the new year. I'm not overly ambitious when it comes to these things; I err on the side of caution, choosing resolutions that I know are realistically achievable, or striving to be more committed to green lifestyle practices that I already embrace. The point, after all, is self-improvement, not failure.

What follows is a list of 15 ideas for New Year's resolutions that relate to the many topics I write about for TreeHugger. Each one of these would make an admirable resolution that not only would improve the quality of one's personal life, but also that of the planet. Some of these I've already implemented in the past, while others I intend to. (The first four in the list are going to be my focal points in 2019.)

I hope this list will inspire readers to do the same. These resolutions have the potential to create a more cohesive, community-centered, and eco-minded world – and we're certainly in desperate need of that.

#1: Don't look at your phone when kids are in the room. Extend that to other family members and friends. Train yourself to leave your phone in your bag, instead of putting it on restaurant tables.

#2: Ride a bike or walk for trips under 5 kilometres (3 miles).

#3: Buy no new clothing. Teach yourself what it's really like to make do with what you have.

#4: Read more books. One per week is my goal this year.

#5: Be strict about shopping for groceries with cloth produce bags and reusable containers.

#6: Hang-dry clothes all year round – and chat with your neighbors while you're at it.

#7: Repair before you replace. This may require researching things you've never looked into before but you're bound to learn a lot.

#8: Cook all meals at home and eat with family members. Allow yourself 1-2 exceptions per month, but make the transition easier by meal planning and prepping ingredients on weekends.

#9: Reduce your household belongings significantly. Read Joshua Becker's brand new book, The Minimalist Home, and it will tell you exactly how and why you should do this.

#10: Save a greater amount of your take-home pay. Be crazy. Aim high, like 30-50 percent. Every bit counts. The key is not so much to save aggressively as it is NOT to spend.

#11: Go to sleep earlier, and at the same time every night. It's amazing how many things in life will improve thanks to this.

#12: Spend time outside every day. It doesn't have to be a lot, but it does have to happen every single day.

#13: Host friends in your home at least once per month. Board games, pot luck, breakfast, afternoon tea, backyard campfire, you name it. The point is to build community while spending minimal money.

#14: Remove the iPad from your child's life permanently. As a parent, this is the best decision you'll ever make. It will also make your life harder and louder, but you'll be giving your child the gift of reconnecting with reality.

#15: Stop saying "I'm so busy" when people ask how you are. And then make a point of making sure that's true.