As we enter the New Year many of us are looking for easy eco-friendly habits to work into everyday life. These nine simple resolutions can go hand in hand with other goals like saving money, prioritizing health and wellness, and being a responsible community member. Making a few easy adjustments to our typical routines can have a big impact on our communities, environment and the world around us.
1. Reduce Food Waste
Millions of pounds of food are landfilled every year. When food waste is sent to a landfill, it decomposes and releases methane, a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) which contributes to climate change events such as rising sea-levels and intense hurricanes. By planning in advance, you can estimate how much food you really need and reduce the amount generated as waste. Only make what you will need and make sure to save leftovers and compost your food scraps! At The Island School all our food waste is repurposed to feed the pigs or to brought to our compost heap which helps enrich soil in the farm.
2. Start a Garden and Compost Heap
Any inedible food scraps like banana peels, coffee grounds, and even eggshells are still full of nutrients that can be returned to the soil. Set up a simple compost heap in your yard and use it to start a garden with your family or plant an edible native tree in your neighborhood. Our farm team uses the compost we create on campus to help grow food for the dining hall.
3. Eat your Veggies
Many people make New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, and vegetables require much less water, land, and energy to produce and transport. Meat production is a large driver of climate change, and eating less meat and incorporating more vegetables into your diet is one of the more impactful personal choices individuals can make to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their physical health. We are able to grow and source a wide variety of vegetables on the island – from radish, lettuce, cucumber, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, and so much more!
4. Shop Organic
Shop organic when you can! Organic farming practices have many benefits for human and environmental health such as conserving water, reducing soil erosion, recycling of nutrients back into the soil and increasing soil fertility with composting. Organic food production systems are also better for nearby ecosystems as they use less petrochemical inputs such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers which can pollute our soils, groundwater and surrounding marine environment.
5. Drive Less – Walk/Bike to Work
When possible, ride a bike or walk! Those frequent trips to work and the grocery store add up. Save money and emissions by getting some fresh air and exercise. The bikes we have on campus enable our students, faculty, and staff to zip around campus and explore the loop during free time.
6. Simple Swaps
Consider swapping one harsh chemical cleaner for a natural based cleaner such as vinegar, peroxide, alcohol or baking soda. Did you know you can make your own cleaning products with ingredients you may have already in your pantry? To make a simple all purpose cleaning product take the top off an empty spray bottle and pour in ½ cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons baking soda, and fill the rest of the bottle with water.
7. Think Local
Head to a local farmers market or get to know a local fisher or food producer! Purchasing locally grown foods helps to support the local economy, and produces less greenhouse gases associated with transportation, refrigeration and storage. When possible, opt to buy seasonal produce as they are grown closer to market and usually are fresher with more nutritional value. Winter in The Bahamas is farming season, and we are lucky to have many of the local farmers and food producers supply food for our dining hall.
8. Travel Smart
We all want to see our family and friends, however carpooling or hosting virtual activities are ways to reduce carbon emissions. These options could also save you time, money, and stress. If you are traveling in the New Year, you might also consider offsetting your carbon emissions by planting a native tree or supporting projects that will remove or prevent carbon emissions. At The Island School the majority of our staff commute together in shuttles or bike to work to reduce our impact on the environment.
9. Consume Consciously
Think before you shop. The more stuff you buy, the more you contribute to carbon emissions from manufacturing and shipping, and inevitably waste sent to landfills in the form of product packaging. Consider alternatives to buying new. Instead opt to borrow from a friend or purchase something gently used from a thrift store, secondhand online marketplace, or someone in your community. To encourage reuse rather than buying new we hosted a free community swap meet this fall for our community in South Eleuthera to exchange clothing, household items, and seeds. It was a success and we look forward to more events like this in the future!