If the idea of sustainable living has been of interest to you but you don't quite know how to begin your journey, this list of 10 New Year's Resolutions for a more sustainable lifestyle can help get you started.
1. Reduce plastic use
The world's plastic problem is big, really big! 33 million tons of plastic waste per year is generated in the US alone and only a fraction of it is recycled. Plastic is awful for the environment. It ends up in landfills, beaches, rivers, oceans and contributes to a plethora of environmental problems.
And if there is one thing you can do in 2020 to get started on a journey to a more sustainable lifestyle, it would be to reduce the amount of plastic you use on a daily basis.
Start by saying no to plastic bags and single-use plastic storage. Invest in reusable shopping bags, water bottles, containers, straws etc to replace plastic alternatives.
2. Reduce the use of chemicals in your home
A lot of the cleaning products found in your home contain a load of mysterious, dangerous chemicals that are not only bad for you, but bad for the environment.
Start the New Year with a "spring clean" of your cabinets to eliminate chemical-filled products and replace them with eco-friendly alternatives.
3. Switch to all-natural beauty products
Similar to cleaning products, personal care and cosmetic products are riddled with toxic chemicals. When buying personal care products to use on your body and face, choose brands that are vegan, all-natural and not tested on animals.
If you wear makeup, sit down with this list and go through all of your makeup products to see which brands you’re using that still test on animals! We don’t necessarily recommend throwing them out right away (that would be wasteful), but definitely, don’t repurchase any products from any of the listed companies.
4. Buy local and seasonal produce
Next time you head to the supermarket, try to only stock up on produce that's in season. It's great for your wallet, it tastes better and is better for you.
5. Eat less meat
The overly-industralised, grain-fed livestock industry is awful in every way. Not only are of all the growth hormones injected into animals bad for them (and us), the greenhouse gasses their farms create are deadly to the ozone layer. Plus the living conductions of many animals in the industry are inhumane.
While there are a bunch of benefits to becoming a full vegetarian (or even vegan), it's not necessary to completely sacrifice eating meat if it's something you enjoy. Reducing your meat intake (even if it's just implementing something as simple as Meatless Mondays), can have a huge impact on the environment. At the very lest, try to be more conscious about where your meat comes from. Grass-fed, pasture-raised meat is the way to go.
6. Embrace minimalism
Minimalism is just a fancy way of sayinG that you live and shop consciously - not acquiring more than you need, and being aware of the consequences of all your purchases. In the New Year, just get a little more conscious about any purchases you're making (do you need that third wine rack?) and consider taking time to declutter your home.
7. Say no to fast fashion
Fast fashion has a high human and environmental cost, and despite the fact that each item costs you less than high-quality clothing, it ends up costing you more in the long term.
Consider breaking the cycle of fast fashion and shop more consciously.
8. Drive less
There are numerous benefits to ditching your car, and so many alternatives to driving available in every city. Public transport is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, as is carpooling. Whether you're on holiday or commuting to work, consider taking public transport to cut down on emissions and help reduce pollution.
Bonus points if you opt to ride a bike or walk to your destination! It's not only better for the environment, but all that exercise is going to be so much better for your health.
9. Choose to be a more sustainable traveller
If you've got the travel bug, let this be the year you explore the world in a different way. Travel more, travel further, but most importantly, travel more eco-consciously.
Choose to stay in eco-friendly accommodation that cares about their impact on the environment and on the communities.
Don't engage in unethical wildlife activities and choose to spend more time connecting with nature.
Offset your carbon emissions when flying.
10. Give back
Giving back is a great way to connect with others in your own community. And luckily, there are so many ways to make a positive impact that don't involve monetary donations, so it's a resolution you can stick to, no matter what financial position you're in.
Get involved in a project in the community that's near and dear to your heart, maybe it's volunteering for a local organisation or helping out with a community garden, or a local sports team, or simply taking part in some of the community events throughout the year.
And don’t forget to continue giving back while you are away from home too. There are many ways to “pay it forward” while traveling that will help you connect to the communities abroad and help you gain a better understanding of life outside of your own country.