Four Eco New Year's Resolutions For 2018
We're thundering towards a new year in just mere hours. For many, this is a time to sit down, reflect on how we've grown the past year, and set new resolutions for the coming year. With a growing tide of awareness around issues of sustainability, animal agriculture and plastic pollution, for a lot of people, these resolutions will be to be more eco-friendly.If you want to lighten your footprint on the planet but you're not quite sure how to go about it yet, this is the post for you.
While resolutions can be extremely specific, and specific goals are often necessary for implementing new habits, I always found a widespread change in your life comes easier when you set yourself broad values you want to move towards living by. When beginning my journey I didn't dive into zero waste living, and I never set myself rigid rules I had to do every day. Instead, I placed priority on educating myself so I learn, grow and move towards holistically living my values more effectively.
2016 and 2017 have in many ways been horrible for the natural environment as our governments are failing to take necessary action to protect our future. The Paris Agreement, the Dakota Pipeline, and Adani mine come to mind. In other ways, these years have been transformative and full of hope and promise, as ongoing efforts from activists are increasing awareness of the pressing issues we face, and consumer trends are starting to reflect a shift in consciousness. We may not be able to control all that is bad, but one thing we can control is our own actions.
We own the impact we make as individuals in 2018.
Below are four new values you can choose to set as New Year's Resolutions to make positive steps towards the future we want to be living by the time 2019 rolls around.
- I'll try a plantbased diet
We know that our diet above all other lifestyle choices creates the single biggest impact on the world around as individuals. What (or who) we choose to eat contributes more to the kind of world we want to live in than any other decision we have to make. For this reason, going plantbased is the single most powerful change we can make in our lives, as an essential piece of the sustainability puzzle. Learn more about the problems behind animal agriculture and Earth's inability to support the industry by watching the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (on Netflix).
You can get all the support you need by joining the Veganuary challenge. Last January 15,000 people took part, and this December there's been one new sign-up every 30 seconds, so you'd be in good company. I have personal friends that have gone vegan and stayed vegan with the support of this free program. Make the resolution to eat vegan for the month of January.
- I'll say no to the big four single-use plastics
In the next few decades there will officially be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish. Humans that eat seafood already consume more than 10,000 pieces of plastic every year. The petroleum-based plastics we use every day to package our products are incapable of biodegrading and will outlive the human era. There are four plastic items that comprise 60% of our plastic trash: Plastic straws, plastic bags, plastic water bottles, and takeaway coffee cups. Just those four items alone are estimated to comprise over half of the plastic we produce and throw away, with the other 40% comprising of everything else plastic we use from milk bottles to pill packets to clothes tags. So by simply refusing the big four and using reusable items instead, you can more than halve your contribution to plastic pollution. Learn more about plastic waste and it's dangers to the natural environment in the documentary Plastic Paradise on SBS.
To start refusing single-use plastics is free, and you can start today. Start practicing phrases like "No straw/bag please". Your existing water bottles, tote bags and cutlery from your kitchen make great zero waste alternatives but if you need to increase your supply for daily use, you can make it a resolution to invest in high-quality reusable products such as glass straws, reusable shopping bags, stainless steel water bottles, and reusable coffee cups. I buy my plastic-free supplies here.
- I'll choose secondhand or sustainable brands over fast fashion
Fashion has been estimated as the fifth most polluting industry on Earth. Read my really quick summary of the issues in Responsible Fashion: Who, what, where and why. With the sheer volume and speed at which we produce, consume and dispose of fast fashion, it's easy to see how this has become an environmental disaster. Increasingly, more of our clothing is made of polyester plastic, and large fashion chain's addition of weekly collections into their stores has put a lot of pressure on consumers to keep shopping to stay up to date with trends. It's time we got off the conveyor belt, slowed down, limit our shopping to what we actually need, and source those necessary items from more sustainable producers.
If you have access to op shops, shopping secondhand is the great first choice. If you don't live near any decent shops, the other option is Facebook buy & sell groups. Capital cities especially have thriving clothing trade pages. In 2014 I was able to thrift myself entire winter and summer wardrobes and still make an $800 profit selling off my used items. If you've tried secondhand and still haven't found what you need, there is a growing culture of mindful and sustainable fashion brands locally and around the globe. My recent wardrobe additions came from Synergy, MATTER, Uncle May, Rowie the Label and tonlé. To find sustainable brands you can download the app GoodOnYou to see how different brands stack up, and be sure to read my post Australia's Top 15 Ethical Brands 2016.
- I'll shop for palm oil-free alternatives
Most of the world's palm oil is sourced from just two islands: Borneo and Sumatra. Palm oil plantations on these islands replace tropical forests, kill endangered species, uproot local communities, and greatly contribute to the release of climate-warming gases. In the last two decades 80% of the Indonesian and Malaysian orangutan population has been wiped out, with complete extinction predicted in the next ten years. You can read more about the issue in my blog post Explaining The Palm Oil Boycott: The what and why and the attached links for more info.
Avoiding palm oil can be easy as reading a label and purchasing the same product from a different brand next to it on the shelf. Or even better, avoiding processed foods that contain oils altogether! You can delve into the world of the palm oil boycott by following Palm Oil Investigations, browsing their product guide and downloading their free barcode scanning app to make your shopping as easy as can be.
These are just four ideas of actions you can take in 2018 to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
My New Year's Resolutions you ask? (OK, most of you probably aren't asking.) The specifics are under wraps for just me, as I continue down a path of frugal minimalism, getting back to zero waste living after some disruptions, and starting a new adventure to be announced next year.
What are your resolutions? Leave a comment below or on my Instagram if you think they're something I could learn from, or implement in my own life!