Our Environmental New Year’s Resolutions

A few changes can benefit people and the planet (and save you money)

Exercise more. Buy less. Eat better. Save money. Many people set New Year’s resolutions. The hard part is keeping them.

We get it. Life during the pandemic is challenging enough without outlandish expectations.

But resolutions can be easier to keep if they are small.

We asked some of our staff for their New Year’s resolutions, with a twist — these are all about the environment. We want to share them with you. These small steps can achieve multiple goals that are good for you and the environment.

Walking and biking for short trips

Marnie Boardman, a public health advisor, said she’s going to “make more human-powered trips.” Walking or riding a bike will save her money on gas, help the environment by not polluting, and get her exercising.

Laundry adjustments

Several people said they would stop using hot water to do laundry. This cuts energy use and will save them money by limiting the use of their water heater.

Diet changes

Less red meat is on the menu this year at the home of Lauren Jenks, leader of Environmental Public Health. She also plans to cut down on eating dairy products. Her colleague Rad Cunningham says he will eat more plant-based meals.

A step to improve your health might be to replace fatty cuts of meat with leaner cuts to reduce saturated fat. You could eat more chicken and fish. Large animal production is a big contributor of greenhouse gases. And eating more vegetables and fruits could help improve your health.

Avoiding plastic

Michele Roberts, the assistant secretary in charge of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine planning and distribution, committed to using less single-use plastic. This means generating less trash, and less pollution getting into our oceans. Chief of Staff Jessica Todorovich and several others are joining her. Their ideas include:

  • Buying powdered laundry detergent or detergent sheets in cardboard boxes, instead of liquids in heavy plastic containers.
  • Using deodorant that is not in a plastic tube.
  • Carrying reusable grocery store bags, including for produce. It’s even more important now that Washington’s single-use plastic bag ban is in effect.

Gift giving

Director of Communications Maranatha Hay said she gave “environmental-related gifts for the holidays.” They included reusable produce and sandwich bags, and metal straws.

Larger steps

Marnie noticed she’s had higher heating bills since she started working from home. She set her thermostat to lower temperatures, but this could be the year she converts from a gas furnace to a high-efficiency electric heat pump. When Mike Lang’s 14-year-old car stops running, the communications consultant is switching to an electric vehicle. Christie Spice, the leader in Health Systems Quality Assurance, will replace her family’s gas-powered car with a hybrid, their second battery-powered vehicle.

If you can make some home improvements, here are some other bigger steps you could consider:

  • Switch to a tankless, electric water heater.
  • Switch from gas appliances to electric.
  • Put solar panels on your home.
  • Plant trees strategically to shade your home and help the environment.
  • Weatherize your house while you improve your health; you may qualify for financial assistance to do this.

If you rent your home or live in an apartment or condominium, you can tell the owner or building manager about financial incentives to switch to energy-efficient appliances. Here are some resources you can share:

If we join together on steps large and small, we can make great strides in helping to improve our lives at home and our environment. Visit our What You Can Do page to learn more about taking action on climate and health this year.

More Information

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. For more information from the Washington State Department of Health, visit doh.wa.gov.

Questions about COVID-19? Visit our COVID-19 website to learn more about vaccines and booster doses, testing, WA Notify, and more. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

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From the Washington State Department of Health

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Washington State Department of Health

Washington State Department of Health

Protecting and improving the health of people in Washington State.

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