Do 1 thing a day in the first week of 2016 to be a better person environmentally.

These are pretty easy!

Resolutions are played out and we all know it.

But a lot of us really would like to get better at human-ing without ruining the environment. Instead of setting lofty ambitions with no real implementation date, just do one of these fairly easy things per day for the first week of the year to make the rest of your year better for the Earth.

Day 1: Turn over a new leaf (of expired spinach).

Have veggie or fruit leftovers from your New Year's Eve party that you had too much champagne to refrigerate before bed?


Image by Colin Henein/Wikimedia Commons.

Use them for your brand-new compost pile. You don't even have to have a yard or a large space to keep a compost bin, and if you follow these tips, there is no stinky smell.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that yard waste and food scraps make up 20-30% of what we throw away, and if they make it to landfills, they give off methane, which has a strong influence on the Earth's greenhouse effect.

That's totally within your power to change!

Day 2: De-junkify your mailbox.

Sign up for the National Do Not Mail List and reduce the amount of junk mail you're receiving. This is the kind of detox fad I could really get behind.

YUCK! Think of all that unnecessary garbage! Image by Alan Levine/Flickr.

Day 3: Have a barrel of fun showing your neighbors a better way to water lawns.

Set up a barrel for rainwater to hydrate your lawn. If you live in a house and the temperatures are still above freezing where you live, this is a great project to get done now. Check your local ordinances to see if they have any regulations around it, though.

Here's how to do it:

1. Install concrete blocks in a garden next to a downspout; make sure they are level.

GIFs from Okanagan WaterWise/YouTube.

2. Set barrel securely on blocks with its spout toward the garden.

Follow the rest of these instructions from This Old House and read about pitfalls to avoid. You won't reduce your water bill by a ton. But because the water you use for your lawn doesn’t need all the public treatment that your other water does, you save the environment in those hidden ways. If more people did it, it’d be substantial for our communities' overall consumption.

Day 4: Don't be a garbage human.

Talk to your family or roommates about trying the Zero Garbage challenge (or just take it on yourself).

One woman was able to get her garbage production for two years down to one 16-ounce mason jar.

Let's think about that for a couple of minutes. Image by FiveRings/Wikimedia Commons.

Even if you don't achieve what she did, you're still likely to drastically reduce your waste!

Day 5: Change the way you veg.

Find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) source near you and sign up.

These are organizations that do the growing and harvesting work. You chip in and get to enjoy the fruits of the labor.

You'll always have fresh, interesting vegetables that didn't have to trek across states using refrigeration to reach you. Image by Stacy Spensley/Flickr.

You'll benefit from pickup locations near you and be sourcing produce and/or meats and dairy locally, which will reduce demand and cut down on the amount of cross-country shipping (and emissions) happening with grocery store chains.

Day 6: Smack those car keys right out of your own hand.

Make a list of the types of trips you take in your car each week. Think about the ones that could be eliminated (by walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transit) or consolidated into the same trip. Every time you eliminate or consolidate a car trip, give yourself a check mark on your calendar. When you get 10, treat yourself to a movie or something delicious!

GIF from "Pee-wee's Big Adventure."

Day 7: Rethink what you're putting in your tires.

It's a secret not enough people know about. Find a nitrogen dealer near you and see about having the air in your tires replaced with nitrogen. Nitrogen is made of larger molecules than oxygen, so it could be less likely to seep through the pores in rubber. It can cost anywhere from $5-$20 per tire to do this.

If checking tire pressure religiously just isn't something you think you're going to do, switching to nitrogen could be a solution. Maintaining proper tire inflation means better gas mileage for you and less emissions in the environment!

FUN FACT: Airlines use nitrogen in aircraft tires because of the increased longevity and savings. Image via Susan Cornell/Wikimedia Commons.


So give the resolutions a rest and just put a little dedication in during the first week of the year. You'll feel smarter and like a better environmental citizen for the rest of the year!

Family

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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