Riding the wave of optimism that has come from 2015’s environmental advancements, Emma Prineas takes you through her new year’s sustainability resolutions.
Go vegan or vegetarian five days a week
We all know that the huge consumption of meat and dairy is having an enormous adverse effect on our environment, in terms of emissions, biodiversity loss, run off – the list goes on. The World Health Organization’s recent confirmation that red meat is likely carcinogenic, and the rise in meat-substitute products, makes the start of 2016 a great time to commit to a few (or more) meat-free days every week.
Experiment with Veganuary, giving you a month meat-free. And after you’re done, set yourself a challenge to go meat-free Monday to Friday. There are loads of websites with recipes to kick you off, such as meatfreemondays.com.
It’s easy to habitually go for familiar brands when you’re at the supermarket. But every dollar you spend is a vote for your values. So, get into the habit of checking ingredients, sources and packaging when you shop. What should you look for?
- Certified sustainable palm oil. This ubiquitous stuff appears in a myriad products under all sorts of different names. It means saying hello to CC’s, and farewell to Doritos, owned by PepsiCo. Check that the company is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and make a statement with your purchase.
- Fairtrade ingredients, particularly in tea and cocoa, both of which should be clearly labelled. Try Green & Blacks for chocolate and fairtrade green tea, both commonly available, and tell the supermarkets that this is important to you.
- Sustainable or responsibly sourced paper. The packages on most toilet papers, kitchen rolls and tissues in the supermarket indicate whether the products are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Check for the little FSC logo on the back to make the responsible choice.
- Social support: get into the habit of seeking out companies that have a social conscience. A great example is toilet paper producer Who Gives A Crap, which donates 50% of its profits to build toilets in the developing world (and handily is also uses only 100% post consumer waste recycled fibres!).
- Recyclable materials: Single-use plastic is an environmental disaster, so stick to recyclable packaging and materials. And when you need a new utensil? Don’t buy it new – head to your favourite second-hand store, check out eBay, or ask your friends if they’ve got a spare one.
Give more than you get
Give. Give love, time, care and thought. We overflow with abundance at this time of year, so it’s a particularly great time to reflect on those who are less fortunate, or who are having a tough time. Make an impact incognito with Kindness Cards from the Wake Up project, and pay the love forward. Offer to volunteer in your community. Go on a trip that also raises money for a cause you care about, for example, join the 12-day Moon Bear Challenge hike in northern Vietnam with Inspired Adventures. Or offer your skills on the board of a not-for-profit. Check out GoVolunteer or ethicaljobs.com.au for inspiration.
BYO n’ go
Become an expert at bringing your own. Take water out with you, or an empty flask that you can refill at will, to avoid purchasing bottled water (read more about that environmental disaster here), and get a KeepCup from your fave cause to put your daily coffee in while making a statement! Going to the supermarket? Take your own fabric bags, or even bring your own packaging – think Tupperware – to avoid the small bags or plastic wrap that can come with loose fruit and veg.
Declutter your mind, home and life
Starting from the inside out, get clear on your goals by cultivating mindfulness, creating peace in your inner world. Break it down into weekly focusses, that become monthly goals. Project that peace to your immediate family or community by decluttering the things that you don’t value. Turn off the tablet and invite them around. Push that peace right out to your community, donating anything you haven’t used in 12 months to someone who needs it. The less “stuff” you have, the more space you have to find your authentic self, and live your authentic life.
Start At The Beginning…
So, where to begin? Set your goals, and work out how to break them down so that they stick. For more ideas, see some more examples of the New Years Resolutions of members of the Ethical Writers Coalition such as: