Reduce your carbon footprint for the new year

Every year, many of us set out to make New Year's resolutions that will have a positive impact on our lives. Whether it's losing weight, spending more time with your friends, meditating more often or taking better care of your home, there's always some elusive goal on our list that we just can't seem to accomplish – but the new year is the perfect time to put those ideas into practice!

One great idea for a New Year's resolution is to vow to have a lighter impact on the planet. Deciding to live a more sustainable lifestyle can help you save money, feel better about your carbon footprint and set a good example for your kids, friends and neighbours. If you're ready to take the plunge into a life of sustainability, here are a few ideas.

Reconsider your diet

There are a number of ways the food we eat impacts the planet. Meat production is known to be a huge source of carbon emissions, as the raising, harvesting and shipping of meat are all resource-intensive processes. You may want to consider jumping on the 'meatless Mondays' bandwagon, or even going meatless on more days of the week (have you considered seven?).

While you're examining your diet, take a look at how many processed, packaged foods you consume. Even if they are vegetarian meals, these foods cause significant environmental harm.

When you head to the store, look for fruits and veggies you can stuff in a reusable produce bag. Build on those choices with whole grains and locally raised meats, eggs and cheeses. When it comes to those animal products, your best bet will be to purchase from a local market. This way, you'll know the food hasn't been shipped across the country (equalling significant transportation emissions) before reaching your plate.

Go packaging-free

Packing is a big problem. When was the last time you headed to the supermarket for a routine weekly shopping trip without using any plastic bags or purchasing any food in packaging? Even seemingly wholesome eggs come in a disposable (albeit recyclable) container!

Eliminating packaging from your life helps you keep debris and rubbish out of landfills. Switch to reusable bags for toting your groceries, and consider investing in reusable egg cartons, bulk food jars and reusable glass milk jugs.

Go car-free

According to the Australian Department of the Environment, transportation accounts for about 14 per cent of the country's carbon emissions. Even if you can't completely eliminate your automobile from your life, there are plenty of ways to reduce your reliance on it. If you live in a large city like Sydney or Melbourne, there's no reason not to take public transportation to and from work and when running daily errands. You could also consider cycling to work. If you live close enough to your office, you might even consider walking!

If you are planning on moving this year, consider looking for a home in a location that has a high walkability rating on Walkscore.com. This will ensure you don't have to jump in the car and burn petrol every time you need to go to the supermarket.

Get solar power

Did you know that 1 in 5 Australians currently uses solar power in their household, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics? It's true! A whopping 20 per cent of Aussie households now has this sustainable form of power.

Solar power doesn't just come in the form of photovoltaic (PV) panels (although those are great!). You could also consider installing a solar collector for your hot water unit, which will heat your H2O with the warmth of the sun. Considering Australia's hot, sunny climate, going solar is a no-brainer!