The new year is peeking through all of the holiday happenings and there is again a renewed sense of possibility and hope. Walk confidently into this decade with a list sustainability resolutions you’ll actually keep.
With these more mindful living goals, you’re guaranteed to stick to other resolutions completely by default. Sustainable changes, though slow and gradual, create holistic impact in the long-term stretch.
We’ve laid out a few possibilities so take whichever fits your current lifestyle and consider our guiding principles as you set up for your own sustainable practices and habits.
Make more mindful food choices
Address today’s largest environmental concerns by simply choosing better foods. By making more mindful food choices and supporting local food systems you can ‘satisfy human food needs, and contribute to biofuel needs. Enhance environmental quality. Sustain the economic viability of agriculture. Enhance the quality of life for farmers, farm workers and society as a whole’. There won’t just be more food but food that is sustainably produced and nutritious. Inorganic foods lose a devastating percentage of vitamins and exhausts the soil, further depleting it of nutrients. Organic, local and seasonal produce simply contains more nutrients. Mindful food choices could be anything from adopting a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle to reducing processed and fast food consumption. Make a choice that works for you. In all its applications, consider where your food comes from and the journey it took to your plate. What process and resource was necessary for its production?
The most direct way to reduce waste is to reduce consumption. Use your purchasing power for good and buy wisely. In 2017, Global Issues reported “50 million tonnes of electrical waste globally every year...nearly 4 million double decker buses worth of old computer equipment, TVs, stereos and kitchen appliances, stretching to the moon more than 3 times over”. But nearly 20% of the global waste water produced is due to the recklessness of the fashion industry alone. Even organic cotton requires almost 5,000 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Before making your next purchase, consider it’s process of production and what will happen to the item when you’re through with it. Buy quality if you choose to buy at all and remember there is no ‘away’ when you throw away.
Experience over stuff
A minimalist lifestyle does not guarantee happiness but it does cut away at the excess in life. Ultimately minimalism reveals your core values which if prioritized, could lead to greater levels of contentment. This could look like buying less items in the new year or taking stock of what is currently in your home. Also, research shows a correlation between higher levels of mood and life experiences rather than material possessions. This year, invest in yourself and use your resources for shared, social experiences rather than stuff. You may surprise yourself with how little you need to be happy.
Repair, rewear and repurpose
"The more that can be reused and repurposed the less raw materials required to be extracted from delicate ecosystems and less expense to people, habitats and profits". The majority of consumers today are after a quick fix. The Independent reports “increasing disposable income levels over recent generations means there is less need to ‘make do and mend’, as it’s often cheaper and more convenient to buy new than have an item repaired”. In 2016, a study in the UK was conducted and 2,000 women reported that their clothing garments were worn no more than 7 times before being tossed. Fast fashion is guilty for a large part of the global waste issue with 85% of donated clothes ending up in landfills of developing nations. The 30 Wears Campaign directly addresses this fast fashion obsession to stay trendy. So, in addition to buying less stuff, take care of the stuff you do have. And if a pre-loved garment is beyond repair, consider other possible uses for it. A little imagination goes a long way.
Do it yourself (DIY)
The Millennial generation has traded in years of traditional knowledge in exchange for comfort and ease. The default is to hire someone else to take care instead of learning the necessary skills to keep a household running smooth. According to The Big Issue, ‘43% of millennials can’t wire a plug. More than 12% say they can’t change a lightbulb. 32% don’t know how to bleed a radiator’. Doing things yourself is a necessary step for self-reliance, self-management and sustainability. To DIY is to constantly be learning and practicing ownership. Trust yourself to take care of your home and your health.
Get outside and get involved
There is beauty and adventure right outside your backyard. Prioritize experiencing the natural world while you’re still able. In May 2019, The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released a devastating report finding ‘around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history’. The same report leaves us with an urgent call to action. There must be transformative change in the global community - ‘a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values’ is our only hope.
Engage in environmental conversations
News publications, podcasts, documentaries - we are alive and well in the information age. Be a critical consumer. Read and watch everything with a grain of salt, considering the agendas and motives behind it all. Formulate your own opinions by staying informed with the latest environmental discussions. Then take all you’ve learned and teach others. Initiate conversation about sustainability amongst your friends and use your social platforms to make a difference. Promote brands you believe in and campaigns you support. Multiply change by empowering your own communities with greater knowledge and awareness.
Enjoy the outdoors in the ways you can and more regularly. It could be a weekly walk through your neighbourhood or frequent picnics at the park. A yoga stretch in an open field with friends or a quick bike ride to your next errand. Find excuses to be outside instead of in.
Make resolutions that are right for you and your current lifestyle and circumstances. Which of these will you aim for in 2020? Share with us in the comments section below!