I love new years resolutions and I hate new years resolutions. Do you know what I mean?
They’re refreshing because they give you a reset – you feel that the new year brings you endless options and new and exciting opportunities.
Buuuut if you set too many resolution, or you make them too ambitious, they can become a source of anxiety and make you feel like you’re underperforming.
And things are already messy enough, this decade we don’t need those feelings.
That’s why I listed here 12 very basic goals to help you stay in your best sustainable behavior every month of this year – and every year for that matter.
12 Sustainable Resolutions for the Next 12 Months
1. Declutter and give minimalism a try
Maybe absolute minimalism isn’t for you, but try to minimalize your life.
Think about what is useful for you, what makes you happy and what is just there taking space in your room and your mind.
Once you get rid of all the clutter and the noise around you, you’ll be able to see clearly what items really deserve a space in your life, you’ll be able to appreciate more the things you already own and you’ll become more selective about the ones you need.
We’ll talk about minimalism in another post very soon, but until then you can find lots of super inspiring minimalism blogs and blog posts on my Pinterest board minismalist lifestyle.
You can apply minimalism to your closet, too – we’ll talk about that on point 3.
2. Get a zero waste kit
And make sure you use it! This is one of those things that are so, so damn simple that we end up ignoring them.
I’ve had reusable bottles for years, but I kept forgetting about them. And then you go to the office and you buy a plastic bottle. “It’s just one bottle, not a big deal” – plot twist, it is indeed a huge deal if 8 billion people think like that.
So creating a little zero waste kit that you love and that adapts to your needs is absolutely priceless. These are some of the things you can add to your kit:
- reusable bottle
- reusable mug
- canvas bags
- reusable washable masks
- silicone kitchen bags (you can use them on the go for snacks 😉 )
You can get more ideas on these posts about zero waste:
- 7 Zero Waste Swaps For Beginners
- Go Zero Waste on a Budget with These 12 Easy Changes
- Zero Waste Beauty Brands Fighting for a Plastic-Free Future
3. Start a capsule wardrobe
Remember this post where I gave you tips to build your first capsule wardrobe? It’s one of my favorite posts I’ve ever written and if you’re going to read something else from me it should definitely be that post! (after you’re done with this one)
Just like with minimalism, you don’t have to immediately go all the way – let’s be honest, more of us won’t do great with a 30-piece capsule wardrobe.
But make sure you get rid of things that are just taking space. Maybe you can give them a new life by transforming them into something else, donating them or selling them – or, as a last resort, recycling them.
Having a reduced wardrobe will help you gain clarity about what you have and what you need.
It will also help you be more creative with the things you already have and, in the long run, I guarantee you’ll become more mindful about what and how you consume.
4. Go flexitarian
Your diet can make or break your perfect sustainable lifestyle.
Low-carbon diets are often plant-based diets, but veganism or vegetarianism aren’t for everyone and that’s completely okay – tbh the fact that you’ve even thought of the possibility of changing your diet for the planet makes you an absolute rockstar.
Most people have issues with going vegan, but nothing stops us from consuming fewer animal products and making them responsibly sourced when we do. And here is where I tell you to watch the documentary Kiss the Ground *chefs kiss*
Maybe start by making one extra vegan meal a week and see how that feels, what you like and what you don’t.
5. Find out how to greenify your home
Sometimes the easiest changes are the most obvious ones. The ones we don’t make because we think they won’t make a difference.
Of course, the most impactful changes are the large-scale ones: using renewable energy, using efficient appliances or changing the way we get around.
But there are things as easy as installing a shower filter, making sure that your windows are sealed or changing your lightbulbs to more efficient ones that can help you reduce your carbon footprint like crazy.
If you don’t believe me, you need to read this post where I list my top 20 tips to greenify your rental home – no big expenses, no permanent changes, no weird crap.
6. Perform a trash audit
Yep, that means go through your trash.
If you’re skeptical, check out this post by Going Zero Waste where Kathryn begins with: “in order to reduce your waste, you need to know what you’re throwing away.”
You need to keep a tally of what you throw away over a period of time so that you can uncover your weakest points and do something to fix them.
Anything stands out? Is there anything that you can change?
Do you see a lot of plastic packaging? Try to find those products in bulk or in glass or paper packaging.
Do you throw way too many food scraps? Check out point 7.
7. Learn something new about the environment every month
I know you’re busy, but why don’t we make some extra time this year to learn about the environment + how to save it?
We have lots of resources to do it, so just choose what you love the most and stick to it: documentaries, YouTube videos, books, podcasts, blogs,…
These are a few of my favorites so that you can get started:
- Documentaries on Fashion and Sustainability
- The 7 Most Inspiring Documentaries on Sustainability – this post is oldish, so it doesn’t include my current favorite Kiss the Ground. Please, go watchi it.
- 8 Inspiring Books about the Environment You’ll Want to Read This Year
- Podcasts on Sustainability and Green Living
8. Buy local and seasonal
Do you get the hint? I love food and one of my favorite places to reduce waste and my carbon footprint is the kitchen.
Shopping local means that your you’ll be producing less “food miles”. And while the concept of food miles is kind of controversial, you’ll definitely be helping your local farmers, and that’s just amazing.
When you buy from your farmers market you can also make sure that your food is traceable and probably seasonal. Of course, this will look very different depending on where you live and there are still many things you’ll probably need to consume imported or out of season, but why don’t we all try to do our best and be more mindful about it?
9. Plan your meals and avoid food wasate
Your food’s carbon footprint doesn’t only come from what you eat, where it comes from or how it was produced, but also from how you store it and whether you make the most of it.
Food waste is a huge problem – socially and environmentally – with about 40 million tons of discarded food every year just in the US.
The problem with food waste is not just about that piece of chicken that rots in your fridge, but also about all the resources behind it. Imagine all the water that is required to produce a pound of beef (almost 1,800 gallons, just in case you were curious) and all the greenhouse gas that is emitted to bring an avocado to the UK. When food is wasted, the resources used to create it are also wasted.
And the solution is as simple as planning our meals better and becoming more creative in the kitchen.
Some of my favorite things to do are
- using veggy scraps to make vegetable stock that you can easily freeze
- planning meals in advance, writing a realistic shopping list and sticking to it
- composting organic scraps
10. Support small businesses
I love this quote: “when you buy from a small business an actual person does a happy dance.”
It just makes me happy to know that I’m supporting an actual entrepreneur that puts all of their effort and love into what they do instead of a big corporation that miiiiiiight be unethical and unsustainable.
When you buy small or local you can ask questions more easily and you can find out whether the products you’re being offered are sustainable and have been produced ethically or not.
Support small businesses, your friends businesses or local businesses and make someone’s day.
11. Join the circular economy
This can be something as simple as using zero waste alternatives to single-use goodies, avoiding unnecessary waste and consuming as many things that already exist as possible. Of course, transforming our economy and the way we consume will be harder than that, but we have to start somewhere.
For example, let’s talk fashion. Circular fashion is about trying to use what already exists and minimizing waste – which, as you know, is A LOT.
You can join the movement by :
- buying second hand
- upcycling or repurposing clothes you can’t use anymore
- mending your clothes instead of throwing them away
- shopping from brands like Recycle2Riches
- renting your clothes and jewelry
You have more ideas on this post about the 7 types of sustainable fashion.
12. Get involved in local initiatives
“Think global, act local”. This really motivates me to take small steps towards meaningful change.
And what a better way to do it than starting by getting involved in local politics, participating in initiatives in your community or organizing sustainability-related events.
Being more mindful of the changes we can make in our towns or regions is an amazing first step with the potential to build a community of likeminded people, have small local wins and create the momentum to build long-lasting change.