Stick to Your Resolutions This Year
No matter what your New Year's resolutions are, they probably fall into one of three categories: You want to live a healthier life, you want to save money, or you want to do something to better for yourself or the world around you. So how are you going to accomplish them? It's not always easy sticking to your resolutions, which is why we tracked down these five tools that'll practically do the job for you.
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Resolution #1: Detox your kitchen.
Really want to do something that will mean the world to your health and to Mother Nature? Ditch plastic in your kitchen. You'll avoid being exposed to hormone-disrupting chemicals that interfere with your reproductive organs and possibly make you fat, and the planet won't have to deal with more non-degradable, fossil-fuel-based garbage.
Your Essential Tool: Bowlovers, a UK invention that will let you ditch disposable plastic cling wraps and baggies forever. These cotton covers have elastic bands that allow you to store leftovers in any bowl that needs a lid or plastic cover, and you could even use them to cover plates. $14.95 for a starter set of six; bowlovers.com
Read More: 5 Ways to Ditch Plastic Forever!
Resolution #2: Junk your junk mail.
Junk mail is a tree-killing waste of resources and your time, and it's super annoying. The average home receives 800 pieces of it a year! And the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste estimates that it makes up about 2.3 percent of all our trash, and only about 40 percent of it gets recycled. So resolve this year to stop it altogether!
Your Essential Tool: Paperkarma, an app for iPhones, Androids, and Windows phones. It was voted one of the Best Apps of 2012 in Apple's iTunes app store because it's so simple your toddler can start managing that pile for you. Just snap a picture of the marketing mail items you want to stop (it won't work on bills, sorry!) and the Paperkarma team does the rest, contacting the sender and removing your name from its marketing list. The company has all the proper privacy protections in place and doesn't sell your information to anyone. free; paperkarma.com
Read More: 4 More Ways to De-Junk Your Mailbox
Resolution #3: Save money (and be a little greener).
That's always easier said than done, because it seems like major money- and energy-saving renovations to your home can run into the thousands of dollars. There are certainly things you can do for free, such as these 3 Easy Ways to Save Energy, but if you're up for a little investment, look up.
Your Essential Tool: SWITCH LED lightbulbs. These are the first bulbs on the market to truly match watts with those old, inefficient incandescent bulbs. They come in 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt equivalents and are 80 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs—without the mercury used in compact fluorescent bulbs. They've garnered a number of innovation awards, in part because they're high-tech bulbs with that old-school comforting yellow glow that people love in incandescent bulbs and hated in compact fluorescents. Don't balk at the higher price tag; these bulbs are engineered to last for the rest of your life. starting at $42.99; earthled.com
Read More: How to Shop for Low-Energy Lightbulbs
Resolution #4: Revamp your personal care routine.
The lack of regulation of cosmetics and other personal care products was one of the most notable topics of 2012, according to the news service Environmental Health News. Despite repeated attempts by nonprofits and senators who have introduced safer cosmetic legislation every year for the past few years, the industry continues to regulate itself and expose people to chemicals linked to allergies, hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and some types of cancer, all while insisting the products are safe.
Your Essential Tool: Your own kitchen cabinets. Resolve this year to switch one of your personal care products to a safer alternative, and look no further than your kitchen. After all, if you can eat it, it's safer for your skin than the unregulated chemicals found in drugstore products. Swap olive oil or one of these 4 Kitchen Oils for Dry Skin for your old body lotion or ditch your shampoo and body wash in favor of the totally nontoxic organic castile soaps made by Dr. Bronner's. They're so gentle you can use them on a baby, but so good you can use them to clean anything from your hair to your dishes to your kitchen floor.
Read More: 5 Things That Should Never Be In Your Makeup
Resolution #5: Burn more calories and save your life.
You could join a gym, but that still might not protect you from the effects of sitting all day, a number of studies have found. Sitting for prolonged periods of time has been linked to breathing problems, back pain, increased rates of cancer, and obesity, even among people who exercise regularly.
Your Essential Tool: A standing workstation. It's the easiest way to sneak in some extra exercise because your body burns 100 more calories per day when you stand. Premade standing workstations can be purchased from Amazon.com and a company called Ergotron (their WorkFit-S standing workstation, pictured left, runs for $379), but you can also build your own. This video from Men's Health can show you how.