For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted priorities to family, health and home. As we begin 2021, here are a few ideas that can be healthier for you and Mother Earth.

  1. Eat local and organic. If eating healthy or losing weight is one of your New Year’s resolutions, make it even healthier with organic fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you can shed extra pounds as you choose meals that start with fresh food. If you want to start small, check out a list of fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticides and start buying the organic version. Check out What’s on the new “Dirty Dozen” produce list? Find a list of local farmers markets by city at the S. Department of Agriculture Local Food Directory.
  2. Eat less meat. You can start small. Choosing “meatless Mondays” or going vegetarian for a weekend or more can reduce your carbon footprint and fossil fuel dependence. Check in with Carbon Footprint Eatingfor ideas on how to challenge yourself to a eat less meat in a “Meat-Less Month for Mother Earth.” If you’re looking for restaurants that cater to vegan diets, check HappyCow for a nationwide directory. When choosing to eat meat, select local, grass-fed options for a healthier choice for you and the planet.
  3. Choose the outdoors as your gym. For many, going to a gym during a pandemic does not feel like a safe option. So, bundle up and walk, run or bike outdoors. There are hundreds of state parks, forests, natural area, national parks, national grasslands, trails, wildlife areas and even metro parks near you on National Park Service. Check here to discover a new park in Kansas or Missouri and Kansas City
  4. Cut fossil fuels out of your investments. The start of a new year is a perfect time to review investment and savings strategies. With more scientific facts pointing to the environmental damage of fossil fuels, it’s time to make sure your investments reflect your values. Check with your investment advisor, or seek an advisor that specializes in socially and environmentally responsible funds. One option is First Affirmative Financial Network, LLC.
  5. Save money with a home-energy audit. Getting a home energy audit will show you where your house is leaking energy and provide recommendations for the improvements with the biggest paybacks. The Metropolitan Energy Center offers resources for low-income and weatherization assistance programs and a list of residential energy auditors vetted by Home Performance with Energy Star Program. Evergy provides energy programs, rebates and resources for energy-efficiency upgrades.
  6. Reduce water usage. Save money on your water bill and help conserve water by reducing water usage. Turn off faucets while brushing your teeth, take shorter showers or wash fruits and veggies in a bowl instead of running it under the tap. If you have plants, use that water from the washed foods to water your plants. This spring, install a rain barrel or plant a rain garden to collect water for your landscape.
  7. Get rid of phantom energy. If there are items around the house that do not need to be plugged into an electrical outlet 24/7, pull the plug. Even when electronic items are turned off, many devices still use electricity when they are plugged in. So, if you don’t need it, remember to unplug.

Photo: Brooke Salvaggio, Urbavore Urban Farm