We finally got to say Goodbye to 2020. All of us are wishing 2021 is going to be better than the last one. One way to make sure it will be is by taking care of the mother earth. The UN has urged countries to declare “climate emergency”, environmentalism and climate action are at the forefront of people’s mind.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to make a change and what to do to better impact the world. But setting sustainable new year's resolutions for 2021 could help change your habits and live sustainably.
Living a greener lifestyle will benefit the environment in a variety of ways, but it also will benefit your savings too. Since living more sustainably revolves around reusable products, creating less waste, and reducing consumption of resources, you will spend less and waste less money.
Here are some new goals you can set for yourself. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do them all. You can pick on or a couple to start with, and once they become natural habits to you, you can add more.
Shopping “local” could mean buying things that are produced in your local area or country or buying things from businesses that are from your local area or country. If you buy things that are produced locally, you can lower the carbon footprint and support local farms. Also, if you shop at local grocery stores or farmers markets, you will get fresher food. If you buy things from local businesses (preferably small family-owned businesses), you can make sure the money stays in your community. Instead of supporting large, unethical corporations that mass-produce items, commit to buying more locally and purchasing products that are made sustainably.
Choose Pre-Loved Items
You can try buying second-hand whenever possible. Some things you might not be able to get second-hand, but maybe you can buy clothes, furniture or books next time you need one. If you are hoping to get expensive and high-quality products, second-hand is the best way to get them. Also, consider organising swaps with your friends, or using rental services. Your friends and family all have things that they don’t want anymore. So make good use of them! After all, sharing is caring!
These kinds of consuming can feed your impulse buying appetite but with no guilt. There are many websites you can get second-hand clothes including Depop, eBay, Etsy and Facebook Marketplace.
Boycott Fast Fashion
Global chain brands with insanely cheap clothing seem too good to be true, and that’s because they are. The fashion industry is the second-most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry. The problem with the fashion industry is countless. Cheap fashion supports the petroleum-based, highly toxic synthetic fabric and dye industry. Heavy chemicals are used to control pests in the cotton farm as well in the quest to increase soil fertility. All these chemicals can result in health problems for animals, humans, and the planet. Fast fashion is supported also by inhumane, often toxic, sweatshop conditions for garment workers all over the world.
This year, think twice before you buy new clothes. Do you need new clothes? IF you do, buy only what you really need. When clothes shopping, buy clothes made with environmentally friendly material and made ethically.
Ditch Simple-Use Plastic
Plastic is everywhere around us and it is a huge problem. Research estimated Americans use around 100 billion plastic bags every year and they are not recycled. Because they are not recycled, they end up in landfills. Since they are so lightweight, they’re often lifted by the wind and end up interfering our water sources, tree, and animal habits. Even if they stay in the landfill, it takes 500 years for a plastic bag to decay.
You can cut out single-use plastic in your day-to-day life, for example, you could take reusable cutlery with you instead of using plastic spoons and forks, avoid plastic water bottles, or bring reusable bags when you go to the supermarket. Most reusable products are affordable and one-time purchase that could have a big impact on plastic pollution.
Switch to a Plant-Based Diet
Plant-based eating is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprints; this is because of the air and water pollution farming creates, the emissions caused by the transportation of the meat, and the water and land consumption needed for these animals. Research in 2011 found that 119.1 million tons of methane were produced globally by livestock passing gas. The plant-based diet is beneficial for your health too. It lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity.
You can start from vegan/vegetarian meals one or two days a week, then you can do one or two weeks a month. Try to eliminate as many animal products from your diet as you can. Embrace Meatless Monday or Vegan Before 6. Take small steps first.
Organic food costs a bit more upfront but it is money well spend because your food will be more nutrias and you won’t have to worry about the health effects of eating GMOs, toxic pesticides or sewage sludge. You can also ensure that your food was grown in a way that helped the product and enhances the ecosystem. Organic farming uses water efficiently, prevents air and groundwater pollution and increase biodiversity. The same goes for textiles. When you buy garments made of natural fibres like cotton or linen, make sure they are organic.
Use Bike and Public Transport
You can reduce your personal footprint by biking or simply walk to work instead of driving a car. It’s healthier for you and better for the planet. If it’s too far, use public transport like buses or trains. Of course, it might be optional for everyone, but if you do have the choice, choose one of these.
Choosing rail over the plane is becoming popular amongst conscious consumers. Make 2021 the year you swap quick, high-polluting planes for slow, relaxed, grounded trains.
Fix Things and Make Them Last
In the UK, the average lifetime for clothing is an estimated 2.2 years and now more than ever, it seems more convenient to simply give into cheap fashion and buy something new. Why not make a pledge to fix all your worn clothes and stop them from ending up in a landfill. Learning how to sew is an underrated skill. You don’t have to learn how to create clothing from scratch but learning how to mend is worth learning. It saves you buying new clothes and saves you money too. All you really need is a needle and some thread.
Buy Less and Choose Well.
When looking for sustainable companies, make sure you can trust their claims. Choosing products with third party certificates might save you some time researching information, such as FairTrade or Organic certifications.
Everything we do has an environmental or social impact. All of these resolutions can help you minimise your impact. But nobody can live a 100% sustainable lifestyle. What’s important is to be more conscious of what you are buying and where the money goes, as well as the impact of your daily routine and your purchases.
- About the author -
"Miko Takama marketing freelancer based in Berlin, specialised in sustainable business strategy and branding & communication strategy, also a Journalist. She is passionate about sustainability in the fashion industry. On her website and Instagram, she is sharing insights on conscious lifestyle and her journey to start a sustainable fashion brand, Public Ecology."
Small changes spark big changes further up the chain. These resolutions can be the first step to a more sustainable way of living, as well as communicating to manufacturers that the way we consume is changing; a sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle is what we want.