New Year, New Sustainable Goals
Updated: Jan 27
It’s a new year, and it’s the perfect time for a fresh start.
In the new year, I love goal setting and reflecting on the past year to see what worked and what needs improvement.
As for my sustainable goals last year, my biggest achievement was getting involved with the local community garden. I volunteer by doing their social media outreach, as well as grunt work in the garden a few times a week. That’s earned me two free raised beds and a spot on the garden’s board of members.
One aspect of my life that needs major improvement is eating takeout. I ordered delivery WAY more than I care to share, but in the spirit of authenticity, I’ll tell you anyway. According to DoorDash’s 2020 year in flavor email, I made 104 orders. Girls, not only is that hard on the wallet (goodbye savings), it’s hard on the body (hello quarantine 15), and hard on the planet (so much plastic!).
It was a tough year, so if you fell off with your sustainable goals, you’re not alone, and it’s ok. That’s the great thing about a new year because it’s a global reset button. But remember that you don’t have to wait until a new year or a new month or a new week to make better choices. We always have the option to start fresh.
In this blog post, I’m sharing 7 sustainable goals that you can try incorporating this year and beyond.
There are so many ways to be an activist, other than going to protests and marches, which honestly aren’t really my thing. For political activism, you can call and email politicians about important issues or sign up for phone banking to reach out to your community. To help beautify your neighborhood, volunteer to do trash cleanups or tree planting. To push your favorite brands to make better products, call their customer support or send an email. This is something that I plan on doing more of this year.
Continue educating yourself on climate change, politics, and racial issues. Listen to more podcasts, watch reputable YouTube videos, read more magazines and books. I recently watched a video by Shelbizlee on YouTube about why we should stop recycling. I’ve started listening to the podcast How to Save the Planet and plan to read the book All We Can Save by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine Wilkinson.
We can keep spreading the word about the importance of sustainability and making better choices on behalf of the planet. Leading by example is probably the best way to start converting people to caring about the environment. I’ve found that by going through my daily life with my usual sustainable swaps, family, friends, and strangers will make comments or ask why I’m doing a particular thing. For example, I live in a small town and not many people use reusable produce bags, so when I check out at the grocery store, if the cashier comments on them, I tell them that it’s a great way to cut back on plastic waste. It doesn’t have to be a complicated explanation, you just want to leave a positive impression.
Use Less Plastic
Speaking of plastic, the fourth sustainable goal that we can achieve this year is to use less plastic. There’s still a pandemic going on, so this goal isn’t as simple as it was in the past, even though it was difficult prior to the pandemic, but there is almost always room for improvement. I can reduce my plastic consumption by ordering less food delivery. If you’re not sure how you can use less plastic, I would suggest doing a trash audit where you literally look through your trash at the end of the week and see what types of things you’re throwing away and think of some alternatives.
Buy Less Stuff
In addition to using less plastic, we can also aspire to buy less stuff in general. A lot of our waste comes from buying things that we truly don’t need. Be it clothes, makeup, housewares, or food, there are usually some places that we can cut back. If you do need to buy something, look into getting it secondhand or purchasing from a company that utilizes sustainable or ethical practices. While you’re buying less stuff, also considering getting rid of some things that you no longer need. There are few feelings more satisfying than clearing space in your home and mind.
Eat More Plants
Many people are participating in Veganuary, where you are vegan for the month of January. This is a great way to jump start transitioning to a plant-based diet. Even if you aren’t vegan full time, there are many health benefits to eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and of course it’s better for the environment. Former podcast guest, Ashley Renne, has a cookbook for beginner vegans that might be helpful if you need ideas. It’s called Basic Ass Vegans.
So many people say that they don’t have a green thumb, but to be honest, most people aren’t born knowing how to keep a plant alive. As with anything, it takes a little bit of time and effort to see the fruits of your labor, but trust me when I say that it’s so worth it. You don’t have to start a whole garden, but if for example, you use herbs often when cooking, consider having a small herb plant of your top used herb. Or at the very least, get a houseplant. If you’re a new plant mom, a pothos is a great starter plant. In an upcoming episode, I talk with Jasmine from Black Girls with Gardens about this topic.
In closing, there are many ways to reach any sustainable goals that you may have this year. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just try your best.
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