10 Ways You Can Help the Environment This Year

It’s a new year, a new you, and the billion year old earth just completed yet another trip around the sun. As Earth begins a new journey around our star, many people start a new journey — a New Year’s Resolution. By this time into the new year only 72.6% out of the 146 million American who make a New Year’s Resolution, are still committed to their goals. If you are part of the 210 million Americans that have already given up or did not make a resolution, I have just the goal for you! This year make a commitment to help out the environment by making every day easy changes or participating in a larger event. These 10 environmentally conscious resolutions are steps forward to making 2017 a better year for you and the environment.

#10 Make your backyard wildlife friendly

As urban expansion consumes more natural areas, it poses risks to wildlife and surrounding habitats. Make your backyard a sanctuary for wildlife by planting many types of native vegetation. Having a variety of plants will attract different types of wildlife such as small and large mammals, pollinators, and birds. Create a water feature to provide a drinking source and an oasis for amphibians. With dwindling frog populations, the ponds can become breeding grounds where your family can watch the 4 life stages of toads and frogs.

[caption id=”attachment_21577" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

Photo credit: Hunda/Flickr CC

Photo credit: Hunda[/caption]

#9 Organize a trash pickup or park clean up

Even though littering is illegal, there is still plenty of trash scattered along roadways and in public parks. Each year, states spend millions of dollars in litter removal. Not only does it look unsightly, but it also pollutes the environment. By getting a group together to clean up litter you can save tax dollars and the ecosystem from unwanted waste.

[caption id=”attachment_21578" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

Roadside garbage Photo credit:BLM

Roadside garbage Photo credit: BLM[/caption]

#8 Change your eating habits

Walk into the supermarket and you’ll see produce that is not in season is still available. When buying out of season produce you are not supporting local producers supplying markets. Plan meals around in season products to support locally sourced produce, which in turn boost local economies. Also, by choosing local ingredients you are buying products that tend to have less packaging waste and take less energy to produce and transport.

[caption id=”attachment_21579" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

Farmer's market Photo credit: Barbara Monroe

Farmer’s market Photo credit: Barbara Monroe[/caption]

#7 Create a compost pile

Don’t throw leftovers or scraps away, compost them! With our landfills being stuffed full, one way to reduce your waste contribution is by composting unwanted food. Composting not only saves the landfill a load but also creates great fertilizer for gardens.

[caption id=”attachment_21580" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

Composting! Photo credit: NYS DEC

Composting! Photo credit: NYS DEC[/caption]

#6 Conserve water

Is your toilet constantly running or sink leaking precious drops of water? A leaky toilet can cost you an extra $70 a month. Fix your home’s running toilet and dripping faucets. Making these small repairs can save you money on your utility bills. Americans use 80–100 gallons of water per day. By cutting down your shower time, you can conserve water for the environment.

[caption id=”attachment_21581" align=”aligncenter” width=”480"]

water-faucet-drip

Courtesy of Giphy[/caption]

#5 Reduce your carbon footprint

One of the highest carbon emitters are cars. Carpool or use public transportation such as the bus, subway, or light rail as an option to get to destinations. This reduces the amount of harmful emissions and reduces congested roads. Another option is to bike for local trips; break a sweat while getting in shape and helping the environment.

[caption id=”attachment_21582" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

Carpooling isn't a new idea. Why aren't we doing it more?

Carpooling isn’t a new idea. Why aren’t we doing it more?[/caption]

#4 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Still using disposable water bottles? Every year it takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce disposable water bottles. Invest in a reusable water bottle to reduce your contribution to the plastic piled landfills. If you have unwanted items lying around don’t throw them out, donate the items or have a garage sale. Need something? Instead of buying new, opt for a second-hand store or find it used on a swap-meet website.

[caption id=”attachment_21583" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

A snapshot of 'Trash Island' thought to be the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean Photo credit: Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

A snapshot of ‘Trash Island’ thought to be the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean Photo credit: Ryan Hagerty/USFWS[/caption]

#3 Don’t buy products made from illegally harvested animals

Ivory is pretty, when it’s on the animal it belongs too. Do not buy or support business that sell products made from illegally harvested animals. Poaching has a greatly negative effect on animal populations and the environment.

[caption id=”attachment_21584" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

Ivory belongs to elephants!

Ivory belongs to elephants![/caption]

#2 Participate in local environmental programs

Many environmental agencies and organizations put on programs for the public. Nature centers, visitor centers, and local parks host environmental education programs for the public. You can learn about wildlife, how to do an outdoor sport, or go on a guided hike. And most of the programs are low cost or free!

[caption id=”attachment_21585" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

Visitors learning about turtles at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Visitors learning about turtles at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge[/caption]

And the #1 thing you can do this year… VOLUNTEER!

Join in on the volunteer efforts around your community. Many parks, refuges, and conservation areas have volunteer Friends groups. Refuge Friends is the National Wildlife Refuge System’s citizen group which was started back in 1903. Now, there are more than 200 Friends groups, and 10 more being added each year. These Friends groups are crucial to the Refuge System’s collective mission to conserve and protect the wildlife of the nation. To find a local Friends organization near you go to https://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/find.html.

[caption id=”attachment_7364" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]

Staff and volunteers restoring tidal marsh at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Don Freiday/USFWS

Staff and volunteers restoring tidal marsh at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Don Freiday/USFWS[/caption]

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We conserve nature in the northeast U.S. for the benefit of wildlife and the American people. Love your natural and wild places! Explore the world around you by hiking, fishing, hunting, and volunteering. More info at fws.gov/northeast

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region

Conserving wildlife and habitats from Maine to Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania.

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