Ahh New Year’s Resolutions.
Those things that about 60% of us make, but only 8% of us follow through on.
(This is especially obvious in the gym by mid-February when the resolutioners drop off and capacity goes back to normal).
But does that mean you shouldn’t make them?
Many of us like the prospect of starting the year fresh, especially after a year like 2020.
So yes, set a goal to be healthier this year, to get more sleep and drink the water. And if you fail, start again because your health matters. Being the you you want to be matters.
And while considering your health, consider the health of the planet. The climate crisis isn’t taking a break and definitely won’t give up by mid-February, so pick an earth-friendly resolution or two from the list.
And if you mess up, start again.
No judgement here.
You can fail every week, but the planet needs your tenacity to pick yourself up, say, ‘oops that wasn’t a great day,’ and make the next one better.
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1. Remember Your Reusable Bottles (and Coffee Cups)
In 2018, the UK alone was using 7.7 million bottles of water, which is about 3 a week per person thrown away. Using a reusable bottle will help stop pollution and you’ll end up drinking less plastic, too!
2. Remember Your Reusable Bags
This is an easy one to put the kids in charge of handling or having them keep you accountable. Our grandparents and great-grandparents used reusable bags and there’s no reason we can’t other than forgetting and letting the shops bail us out with their “forever” bags for 10p.
Save your money, bring your bags.
3. Learn an Upcycling Skill Like Sewing, Refinishing Furniture, Painting, etc.
Being able to use a sewing machine efficiently or even by hand, means you can repair your clothes, means you can use old clothes to create things like utensil holders and napkins, means you can reduce your waste.
I have found my local college offers short courses for adults to learn those very skills. Plus, you have the whole year to practice so that by next Christmas you may be able to make and give some crafty gifts.
Simple furniture finishing skills like sanding, painting, staining can easily be learned on YouTube and can save you crazy amounts of money because you can grab a second-hand piece of high-quality furniture for a fraction of the price, refinish it, and it looks brand new!
4. Recycle More
Get the right items into the recycling. Use the facilities at your shops for common items like plastic number 4 and batteries and Terracycle to find where to recycle obscure items.
For example, Boots Opticians recycle daily contact lenses and their containers. I just collect mine in a bag and when it’s full, take them in and dump them into their container. Then bring the bag home and start again.
5. Use Less Single Use Items by Buying Bulk, Refills, and Replacing Them with Reusable Alternatives
Shops like Costco are your friend in many ways. Despite the excessive amounts of plastic in some cases, buying in bulk will be amount to less than buying smaller sizes in the shops. Items like pasta, rice, giant tins of chopped tomatoes to batch cook your family pasta sauce recipe are items that will keep for weeks as you use them and will save you money.
Here’s a list of easy reusable swaps you can make to reduce your waste and save money!
6. Make More Meals From Scratch
You can reduce your food waste and weekly food budget by making planning a weekly food menu and sticking to it. Eating out is approximately twice as much as what it would cost to make at home and will often be oversized portions and contain more salts, oils, and additives than if you make it yourself.
While it’s nice to go out for a treat so you don’t have to cook and clean up; keep it at that- a treat and not a multiple-times-a-week thing.
Your body and wallet will thank you.
7. Eat Less Meat
Eating animal products does more damage to the planet in terms of deforestation and pollution (and our health) than all of the transportation sector (including airlines) put together.
While #meatlessmondays is a start, quite frankly, it’s not enough. If you can cut your animal intake in half- say only three days or just the weekends, the impact is probably the biggest thing you can do as an individual to fight climate change.
Most people have a hard time giving up cheese but I have found a wonderful recipe book of replacements that aren’t crazy complicated.
If you are ready to give it a shot sign up for Veganuary and really give it a shot. You will notice changes in your body and health after about 2 weeks. For me I found I sleep better, don’t have the stomach issues I had anymore, and most of the skin issues I had went away.
Lee is more vegetarian but eats meat on the weekends and when he was full vegetarian noticed after a couple of weeks that he had more energy in the afternoon and wasn’t needing a cup of coffee anymore.
8. Avoid Fast Fashion
Make it a point to spend more than £3 on a t-shirt. There is no way that the hands that sewed that shirt together got a living wage to make it and given that the average person only wears a garment 7 times before getting rid of it, we can make a big impact on the planet by changing our mindset when it comes to fashion.
Combat fast fashion by slowing down your shopping habits. Practice gratitude daily so you aren’t prone to envy (and advertisements). Find your own style, so you don’t feel the need to be trendy. Wear only what makes you feel fabulous.
Start with your wardrobe. Do you even know everything in there? Would you wear everything in there? When’s the last time you tried everything on?
Shop your wardrobe and fall in love with what you have again by finding new ways to wear it or layer it or accessorize it.
Too often we buy things for one occasion and never wear it again. Too often we buy things because “it was a good deal” but it wasn’t something we actually loved and then it ends up going to a charity shop a few years later when the sting of the money wasted doesn’t hurt anymore.
If you need something for a special occasion, hit up your friends and see what they have, check online for second hand items- shops like Vinted and Depop make it so easy to sort by size and you can even search items that are new with tags.
Renting special occasion items are a great option, too. Not only do you not buy a dress for one occasion or holiday, you save money and can wear something you might not have been able to afford otherwise. If men can rent tuxedos and suits, then we can surely rent a dress!
As for your kids, organise a clothes swap with your mum friends. Check out charity shops and second-hand online shops like Oxfam online, loopster.co.uk katieskidsclothes.com, and sweetpeaprelovedclothes.co.uk.
9. Take Better Care of Your Clothes
The biggest part of your clothing’s carbon footprint happens at home, so doing what you can to reduce the wear and tear on them means they last longer and less fibres being shed into our water supply.
How do we take better care of our clothes?
10. Use Vegan Make-Up and Skin Care Products
It’s the 21st century and by now we don’t need to rely on animal testing anymore. We also don’t need to be using animal products in our skincare products either. I mean who really want to wash their face with animal fat (Glycerin/Glycerol)? Or apply crushed beetles for lipstick (Carmine/Cochineal/Carminic Acid)? Or whale poop for perfume (Ambergris)? Or style your hair with ground hooves, horns, and feathers among other things (Keratin)?
11. Use Your Technology for Good to Send Some Emails and Tweets
Not everyone has the time to make things from scratch or to spend more on unpackaged produce and bar shampoos, and that’s just the way things are. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help.
Sending emails and tweets to brands and companies and government representatives stating that plastic-free should be the norm, ban single-use plastics, be more transparent in the supply chain, and so on really does make a difference.
For every letter or tweet you send, the company or government official treats it as a representation of hundreds or thousands more that think like you but couldn’t be bothered writing themselves.
So if you come across a brand, or plastic packaged goods that don’t have an alternative, take 5 minutes to send off an email or tweet.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil so let’s get squeaky.
12. Delete Emails and Photos That Take Up Space
Emails, photos, documents, and anything else you have stored online or in a cloud-based service is using energy. There are giant servers out there that store all the information and those servers require power to run and energy to keep them cool so they don’t overheat.
13. Buy Organic When and Where You CanMany store brands carry organic food and it often costs less than the name brand non-organic. You can also have fresh, organic, in season produce delivered right to your door, too! Look at clothing and textile companies, too, as many offer organic cottons, linens, etc. Why organic?
Organic food and textiles are often less water intensive and use less pesticides which are better for the soils they are grown in and the land, water, and air quality for the communities farming the goods.
14. Buy More Seasonal Produce
Buying produce that’s in season not only reduces the travel footprint of your food, but you will be eating food that will be at its peak which will taste better!
It gives you a chance to change up your family’s weekly food menu every 3 months and you will all learn to appreciate the foods in season and look forward to it the way some women look forward to pumpkin spice latte season.
15. Buy Wonky Produce and Teach Your Kids It Tastes Exactly the Same
I had posted on my Instagram about the importance of reducing food waste by encouraging shops to carry the wonky produce and a friend of mine from Sri Lanka pointed out that this is a western thing. They have all the weird looking produce and don’t give it a second thought.
16. Breathe Cleaner Air in Your Home by Making Your Own Cleaning Products, Opening the Windows and With House Plants
We often think about air quality in big cities- smog, chemicals from plants, etc, but did you know the air in your home can be worse than the air outside?
Try making your own cleaning products and using plants to keep nasty chemicals out of the air. Opening the windows weekly will also help.
17. Switch to an Ethical Bank
This is a fairly easy resolution because it’s a one time move.
You pick a bank that is committed to not using your money to invest in climate damaging companies like fossil fuels, mining, and Boo Hoo.
You can take this a step farther and divest your retirement accounts from companies that are investing it in fossil fuels, mining, and other industries that are destroying the planet.
Some UK banks to consider; Charity Bank, Ecology Building Society, Triodos Bank, Nationwide Building Society, The Co-operative Bank, and Monzo.
Some investment managers to consider; Legal & General Investment Management, Eden Tree Investment Management and Aviva Investors are a good place to start.
18. Buy Carbon Offsets or Donate Monthly to an Earth-Friendly Charity
Giving back is a great way to feel like you make a difference despite wondering if just little ol’ you is actually making a difference. When you fly you can buy carbon offsets to offset your journey.
When you buy offsets, you money goes to a specific program that removes carbon. Unlike a charity, the program wouldn’t happen without your donation. A charity there is not as much control over what your money is used for.
Offsets for a 10-12 hour flight costs about $16 USD.
That being said there are so many fabulous charities that are making a difference to the planet and even fighting social injustices. Pick one (or more) that resonates with you and donate to one monthly.
Think sacrificing one takeaway coffee a month.
19. Give Plants Instead of Cut Flowers for Holidays and Occasions
This is actually along the same lines as buying in season produce.
Many cut flowers (especially during times like Valentine’s Day and UK Mother’s Day) are actually out of season and have to be imported from countries that are using land to grow flowers instead of food.
So instead of cut flowers that will be dead in a week or two, try giving a plant that can be kept alive in the house to be enjoyed long term and improve the air quality, too.
Think plants for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, graduations, giving a plant that will last is better for the planet.
And it’s worth mentioning, that even at a time of loss, you can gift someone who is mourning a remembrance tree. Instead of flowers that won’t last, a tree can be planted and give the person something physical and living to connect with their loved one and be a long term symbol of comfort for them.
20. Give the Gift of Time and Not Stuff
I know the holiday season is behind us, but it’s a good time to reflect on what is important and decide how to approach the new year in terms of gifts.
Most of the gifts we buy will be outgrown, unused, or even obsolete by the time the next holiday or birthday rolls around.
21. Try to Walk, Bike, or Take Public Transport Once a Week Instead of a Car
Take a break from the traffic and pick a more eco-friendly mode of transport each week. If you walk or bike you will be more likely to be meeting your New Year’s fitness goals, too.
Many modes of public transport also offer free WiFi so you can get some of your mindless scrolling done while commuting and free up some time at home.
Yes, you have to leave some more time for travel, but your body (and the planet) will thank you.
22. Get Out in Nature More
The best way to want to protect nature, is to get out there and be in it. Fall in love with the outdoors. Put your phone away and take the time to look and notice things.
Since having Olivia and Penny, I love being outside more now than any other time in my life aside from when I was under the age of 12. I love looking and finding things I would have walked past. Soak in your kids’ enthusiasm for when they find something interesting.
I know more about oak trees now then I ever thought I’d care to know just so I could answer all of Olivia’s questions stemming from her obsession with finding acorns. It’s fun. And it was funny to walk in the forest passed an older man watching my then three-year-old pointing at the trees saying “and there’s an oak tree, and there’s an oak tree, and that one’s a birch tree.”
He was gobsmacked.
I got the warm fuzzies. My kids love being outdoors and some day that love will translate into the feeling that they need to preserve that precious space, too.
One Tip for Success
As with any resolution or goal for this year, give yourself the grace to fall down and get back up. The reason resolutions fail, or goals aren’t completed is because we hit a wall, or encounter a set back and think, “well, I messed that up,” give up, and fall back into old habits.
The best way to succeed is to say up front, “Yeah, I’m going to mess up, but that’s ok because this is a change I want to make” then start doing better the next minute. No waiting for tomorrow or another Monday. Just get back on the horse.
Here’s to a clean start.
Let me know in the comments below if you are going to make any resolutions this year.