Why Sustainable New Year Resolutions are the only goals you should be making this year
7 Minute Read
By now, the holiday dust has settled, and you’re probably wracking your brain about all the ways that next year will be better, different, and more productive. Now, I love having personal and business goals to keep me focused each year. But I also try to have sustainable New Year resolutions to make sure that I’m continually stepping up my eco game.
In 2018, my eco-friendly New Year resolution was to avoid plastic bottles, bags, straws, and utensils. And to keep track of every one of those items I used for the year. Here’s how I did!
For 2019, my goal was to buy locally grown foods at least once a month. I honestly didn’t think I was gonna keep that promise, since at the time, it felt too hard.
But I actually surpassed my goal!
I joined a CSA during the spring and summer. I supported local zero-waste groceries like The Wally Shop and Precycle, which both sell locally grown produce. Annnnddd . . . I got into the habit of picking up produce every week when I dropped off my compost at the local farmer’s market. The key with this last one was that it was already on my route. I didn’t have to walk but 20 extra feet to get from the compost drop-off to the farmer’s market. Yes, Wilson and I still do the bulk of our grocery shopping at Whole Foods. But considering how much local produce we bought the year before, I’m really happy with the progress
we’ve I’ve made. 😛
This Year’s Sustainable New Year Resolutions
As for this year, my personal goal is to work on that iPhone/screen addiction I’ve got goin’ on. I realized it does more harm than good, and I wanna spend my time and energy on things that stimulate my mind and energize me, rather than mindlessly draining me, giving me fomo, and inducing a never-ending comparison to others. As for my business? Well . . . I’m still working on that one, but let’s just say: big things are coming.
Last year, I rolled out 2 new services: sustainability consulting to help other businesses improve their footprints, and sustainability coaching where I help people improve their individual and household footprints – think personal organizer, but for making your home the most eco friendly, least toxic, and as waste-free as possible. Next year, I’m hoping to ramp up these services and keep eco resources coming your way. After all, I know you’re always trying to be the most sustainably-minded person you can be.
And since I have no place offering suggestions of what your personal/career goals might be for 2020, I wanted to share some sustainable New Year resolutions that’ll not only be easy for you to maintain throughout the year (since you can automatically set some of them up!), but they’re also a bit different from the resources and tips I usually share. So hopefully this will be something new for you to think about.
Sustainable New Year Resolutions to improve your environmental impact:
Set up a monthly contribution to an environmental organization
Here are two incredible environmental organizations that need support for the work they do. And they both allow you to easily set up monthly recurring donations. (Although the FSC donation portal is pretty crappy, but you can overlook that . . . not everyone can shell out for a good web designer):
Amazon Watch – this is an organization that protects the Amazon rain forest, which has undergone immense damage. And it’s such a crucial lifeline in our fight against climate change! It’s kinda like the earth’s lungs.
The Forest Stewardship Council – this is an organization that sets standards for responsible forest management. Anytime you see a product that has the FSC stamp on it, that means that the materials or packaging were responsibly harvested using practices that maintain clean air/water and plant/animal diversity, and minimize erosion and pollution.
Do a monthly eco swap
It can be overwhelming thinking of all of the products you use at home that aren’t so good for the planet, like household cleaner that’s laden with chemicals, or the items you buy that come in lots and lots of single-use plastic. That’s why I love this planet-saving New Year resolution: it gives you a 12-month timeline to make 12 sustainable changes. Here’s what this could look like:
January – buy a reusable water bottle so I can stop buying plastic water bottles
February – keep a set of silverware and a napkin in my desk drawer at work so I don’t have to use plastic utensils and paper napkins
March – find a reusable bag that can fold up and clip onto my handbag so I never have to use a plastic bag at the store
April – reduce my meat consumption by half of what it normally is
May – stop buying fast fashion and buy secondhand or sustainably made instead
June – only buy produce that comes without packaging
To make sure you take action on this one…
I created this downloadable checklist to help you lay out your sustainable new year resolutions for 2020. Simply write down your sustainable goal for each month, and check it off when it’s complete. I mean, who doesn’t love checking things off a list!
Buy local at least once a month
First of all, local food is much more flavorful and nutritious than something growing halfway across the globe. Why? The fresher it is, the less time it has to degrade. It also has a much smaller carbon footprint because it travels a much shorter distance to get to you. [Most food in your grocery travels about 1500 miles to get to you]. And lastly, most local farms aren’t run by “Big Ag” (aka the corporate agriculture industry). They’re family-owned farms that contribute to the local economy.
Tips for setting yourself up for success:
- Designate that the first Saturday of each month is your “buy local” day for the month
- Mark off on your calendar the days that the local farmer’s market is open
- Sign up for a CSA where you pick up a “bushel” of fresh produce each week
Get involved with a climate action organization
Being part of a group gives you accountability. It makes you go to the meeting even if it’s raining outside. It energizes you when the climate news can be depressing. And it activates you to take matters into your own hands. Extinction Rebellion is a grassroots organization that’s really going for it, and they’re always looking for local groups as well. Or check out a local environmental justice organization to get involved with. This one would allow you to create change locally, which is immensely powerful. Remember the saying, “think globally, act locally…?” I just found this NY-based environmental justice organization called WE ACT for Environmental Justice that’s trying to improve the environment and health of the local community. Maybe I’ll add them to my own 2020 eco resolution list!
Offset all your travel for the year
A recent article showed that this is not the be-all-end-all solution. It certainly doesn’t fix the problem at the source. But it does support carbon sequestering technology and efforts, so I think it still has value as long as you understand that it doesn’t give you free range to travel and fly without consequence.
This CNN article does a great job of explaining what carbon offsetting is, what its flaws are, and why it’s more of an in-between solution until we can make planes less carbon intensive.
If you do decide to offset your travel, make sure you do it with a regulated organization, such as the American Carbon Registry, CarbonFund.org, or Climate Action Reserve. The carbon offset market used to be like the Wild West. And it was hard to know if your money was going where it was supposed to. But by going with a certified organization, you can feel confident about your decision.
So now that you’ve got some ideas rolling around, what are your sustainable new year resolutions gonna be? Lemme know in the comments below.