Opinion: New Year's resolutions to help save the planet

  • 03/01/2017
Recycling conservation environment
Set a New Year's resolution that's easy to achieve and will help the planet at the same time (Getty file)

Kimberley Collins is an wildlife advocate and blogger who works for environmental group Forest & Bird. She shares three easy New Year's resolutions that you can make to help save the planet in 2017.

OPINION: Every New Year I try to set a classic resolution like "go to the gym more" or "write a daily journal". But after a few weeks, or even days, I have completely forgotten about it or just given up.

This year, I am trying something new by setting resolutions that give back, to help me feel less hopeless about the state of our environment and more like I am playing my part to save the planet.

1. Set a trap in your backyard

Ruthless introduced predators like stoats, rats, cats, weasels and possums (to name a few) are eating our forests to death, killing the chicks and eggs of our native birds, wiping out our lizard and gecko populations and even gobbling up special invertebrates like wētā.

New Zealand now has the highest rate of threatened species in the world. Around 81 percent of our birds, 88 percent of our reptiles and 72 percent of our freshwater fish are endangered.

You can help by controlling predators at home, even if you live in the middle of a city! If just one in five houses has a trap in their backyard, it will significantly reduce rat numbers in the whole community, which is a great reason to make pest control a team effort.

Get a group of neighbours to make a pledge to set traps in their gardens - you could even set up a Facebook group with your community and keep a record of the pests you are catching.

Predator Free New Zealand has a great quick-start guide to trapping in your backyard to help you get started.

2. Use less plastic

Scientists are predicting that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. We are already seeing seabirds, dolphins and turtles with plastic-filled stomachs after they have confused it for food.

Sustainable Coastlines says the most common pieces of rubbish in our oceans are single use plastic bags, food containers, lids, polystyrene, and "plastics of unknown origin".

Sustainable Coastlines plastic pollution
Single-use plastics are one of the worst marine polluters (Sustainable Coastlines)

A great resolution could be to cut back on these items, which I found surprisingly easy. I take reusable bags to the supermarket and even made some for my fruit out of net curtains. I take my own container to get takeaways (even if it means people look at me strangely when I fill my pink lunchbox with sushi).

3. Join a conservation group

New Zealand has a conservation group for everyone. Whether you can spare an hour or a weekend - check out what's happening near you and get involved.

I volunteer for Forest & Bird's Places for Penguins project in Wellington where I monitor penguin nest boxes every two weeks for a few hours. It's a great excuse to get out of the house while helping to keep watch over Wellington's little blue penguins.