The New Year's resolutions that could save the planet

Abigail Fenton
·Writer
·3-min read
How could your 2021 resolutions help the environment? (Annie Spratt/Unsplash)
How could your 2021 resolutions help the environment? Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Nearly a fifth of Brits (19%) have protecting the environment in mind when making their New Year's resolutions for 2020.

But it’s not just those actively seeking to make greener resolutions who are helping the planet — many are unknowingly making resolutions with unexpected carbon benefits, research by OVO energy found.

High on the list of 2021 resolutions is drinking less alcohol, with a quarter (23%) of Brits pledging to do this in 2021.

If these people kicked off the year by partaking in Dry January, this alone would collectively save about 39,457 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is roughly the same amount emitted from over 37,000 flights from London to New York.

What's more, if the one in five planning to eat less meat next year completely ditched meat for Veganuary alone, they could save just over 67 metric tonnes each — 288,000 in total. This is the same carbon emitted from 271,036 flights from London to New York.

If the fifth (22%) of people who have resolved to reduce their screen time in 2021 watched just one less film a week, they could save over 12,000 tonnes of carbon over the year. This equates to over 6,000 flights from London to Tokyo, the research found.

Not to mention the hours they would gain to dedicate to more planet and mind friendly resolutions — nearly a third of Brits (32%) said they want to spend more time in nature in the upcoming year.

READ MORE: What New Year's resolutions should you set for 2021

Meanwhile, a fifth (21%) are keen to “practice mindfulness” and 13% want to do more cooking from scratch.

“Many people may be surprised to see the different positive and negative carbon impacts of their resolutions,” said Marta Iglesias, associate director at the Carbon Trust.

“We understand people want to make plans for 2021, enjoy new experiences or find ways to better themselves — and we hope by having more information about the carbon emissions of their resolutions, people will be encouraged to make more sustainable choices.”

What's more, many alternative green resolutions can be easily adopted from home and could help reduce the UK's carbon footprint by up to 1.34 million tonnes a year, according to OVO Energy's carbon expert partners.

The study found that just a quarter of Brits skipping one hair wash a week could save about 98,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year — the same amount as planting 16 million trees.

Additionally, each household could see monthly carbon savings of 4.2kg by switching off all their appliances instead of leaving them on standby, and 0.49kg by only boiling enough water for one cup of tea.

As one in five (19%) struggle to find resolution staying power beyond a month, those alternatives may be just what they need.

READ MORE: How much could your New Year's resolutions save you in 2021?

Nearly half (48%) of these people said they would be more likely to keep their resolutions up if they were simple and easy.

Meanwhile, a quarter would be more incentivised if they understood how their resolutions benefited the environment, the research found.

More than half (53%) of Brits said they’d like to make their home “more energy-efficient” and nearly half (47%) noted carbon emissions are “more important than ever before.”

This means those that feel the need to exaggerate their resolutions to seem like a “better person” (27%), impress others (37%) or sound like they care about the planet (33%), may have no need for such embellishments.

“So many actions that are good for the planet are also good for us all as individuals,” said Kate Weinberg, director of sustainability at OVO Energy.

“It’s useful for everyone to know that making even one easy adjustment to your everyday activity can help to reduce your carbon footprint.

“If we all make small adjustments they add up and have a meaningful impact.”

Watch: How to Approach New Year's Resolutions After a Year Like 2020