3 Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Climate Resolutions

January 14, 2021

2021 is here, finally. Chances are that you are as eager as I am to end the pandemic, see family and friends, get outdoors, and adopt better habits.

For a growing number of people, those ‘habits’ may relate to climate change. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, 72% of Americans now believe global warming is happening, and more than half of Americans are either “alarmed” or “concerned” about climate change.

If that sounds like you, you’re not alone in wondering how to make your New Year’s resolutions climate-friendly and help them stick.


What Are Some Climate-Friendly Resolutions?

Climate resolutions are resolutions to change your personal behaviors or habits that contribute to climate change.

These resolutions may include adopting a plant-rich diet to reduce meat consumption, flying less, and buying an electric vehicle to curb our dependence on fossil fuels. They might also involve installing rooftop solar or contracting for renewable energy, reducing food waste, or buying carbon offsets when a climate-friendly option isn’t possible. Learn more about these behaviors and their impact on the environment.


3 Tips to Keeping That Climate Resolution

Anyone can resolve to adopt climate-friendly behaviors like these. Keeping them is the hard part. Here are three tips for sticking to your climate resolutions based on insights from behavioral science.

1. Make a specific plan and set clear goals.

Behavioral science tells us that plan-making helps people achieve their goals. Articulating and writing down the “when,” “where,” and “how” of following through on your plan reduces forgetfulness and makes it harder to procrastinate. These strategies have been successful in encouraging multiple positive behaviors, including exercising, voter turnout, and vaccination. If your New Year’s resolution involves eating less meat to benefit your health or the planet’s health, your written plan might look like this: “On Mondays, I will only eat meat-free meals.

2. Leverage peer support and commit publicly.

Finding an accountability partner can keep you motivated. Publicly broadcasting your commitment to your peers not only allows them to follow your progress but also serves as a commitment device. If you’re planning to buy a car in the future, making it electric is one of the most impactful actions you can take to fight climate change. Consider signing one of the public “electric vehicle pledges” that are out there and sharing it with your social network,

3. Frame your resolutions positively.

A recent study found that framing your resolutions in a positive and approach-orientated way, rather than negative and avoidance-orientated, increases the chances of sticking with the commitment. For example, if you aim to reduce food waste at home, consider phrasing your goal, “I will prepare and shop with a shopping list,” instead of “I will stop wasting food.” 


Let me also leave you with one final thought. 2020 wasn’t all bad. Despite a heavy focus on crises related to the pandemic, political strife, and numerous other challenges, 2020 also showed us that climate change remains a top-most concern globally. The climate movement is strong, especially among the younger generation of Americans. I’m encouraged by these efforts and publicly committing to more climate-friendly behaviors in 2021 and beyond.