New Year’s Resolutions can be difficult to make and even more challenging to keep. We all want to make resolutions for a brighter future, for self-improvement and a better world around us.
Especially today, when we’re so aware of the impacts our lives and societies are having on the environment; how the composition of our atmosphere is being altered and causing imbalance and change, how estimates indicate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.
So, sustainable New Year’s Resolutions to help protect the environment are more important than ever and more valuable every year – how can we help us all to succeed?
Resolutions usually involve working towards an idea. However, these goals or achievement-based resolutions require sustained motivation, unwavering commitment, and for you to repeatedly make conscious and often challenging or tiresome decisions, which makes them difficult to maintain throughout the year.
So, we’ve created this blog of eco-friendly New Year’s Resolutions with a different recipe for success: making a choice now, or taking an action now, that will set you up for achievement for the rest of the year.
Choose one, choose a couple, or choose something else that’s right for you, but by making a choice this New Year, you have the chance to succeed in a #NewYou and a healthier future for the world we live in.
We’ve written about this before, but it never ceases to be shocking knowing that the value of unused clothing in wardrobes is estimated at £30 billion, with then 140 million pounds worth of clothing being sent to landfills each year in the UK (source: Wrap).
This is not sustainable. This has to change. Fast-fashion: cheap, ‘single use’, throwaway items – that try to satisfy the latest, ever-changing trends, are being produced under unfair conditions at huge cost to the environment.
Take this action now and you will be far more likely to be successful in your resolution throughout the year. Sort through all your clothes, lay them out on the bed, in the lounge, or wherever you can, and think about what you have:
After this process, not only will you be starting the New Year with a clearer idea of how to buy less, buy well, love your clothes and make them last – but you will also be starting the year fresh and decluttered – ah yes!
Remember the big sort for accessories too! Answer the questions above but also think about how they are made – how many are made of non-recyclable plastics?
For both clothes and accessories, the big sort might help you rediscover items that can refresh your wardrobe without having to buy new ones!
Do your research now: Take a look at ethical and sustainable fashion brands, look at their ethos and decide on a list of brands or retailers with both sustainability principles and clothes that you like – now, only buy from these for the rest of the year.
Making this decision now will help avoid situations throughout the year when you find yourself in a shop, questioning whether to buy something but you’ve got no idea about the brand or how the item is made.
‘I’m sure it will be fine’ is all too easy… so set yourself up for success by doing your research early on. Look at wider brands too – notice the ones who are not taking any or enough action, even if you like their clothing.
Discovering more about their processes might help deter you from purchasing from them again until they make the necessary changes.
Fast fashion has a massively negative impact on the environment and it will only continue unless we think about what clothes we buy! Choose quality over quantity and find different ways to dress up your favourite shirt or top.
Set aside a clothing budget, now we don’t mean how much you are going to spend, but how many items you are going to buy, then keep a tally throughout the year and see you do! This might be difficult to predict but setting out a budget will help you think more carefully about each item that you buy.
If you find it difficult to come up with a number ‘the big sort’ might help or you could try looking at your bank statement, you might be able to work out roughly how many items you bought last year? Can you improve on that?
Note: Keep your tally somewhere like your wallet or phone so you always have it with you when you make a purchase. You might find that keeping the tally somewhere visible as well, like on your mirror frame at home, will keep it fresh in your mind.
Write to your favourite retailers and brands and ask them what they are going to be doing this year to help reduce their environmental impact, and to help you keep shopping with them! Once a conversation is started, it’s easier to keep it going… and once you’ve got a template letter set up – send/email once a month for the year to different brands.
Decide on where might be possible to go, do a little research if you like about what impacts you might have before getting your holiday booked! Now, at the same time, also book something to help offset your air miles (if travelling overseas) and the environmental impact of your trip.
A day or a few days volunteering? A beach clean-up event? Book something while you’re away? Or, take the time now to do a bit of research and come up with a list of charities that you would like to support in balance with your travels.
Now, once you’ve chosen, you don’t have to think about it throughout the year; each time you book a trip, book your off-setting activity or donate to one of your chosen environmental charities.
Note: You can apply this book-now off-setting technique to lots of luxuries and leisure activities! Your spa day? What could you do to balance the energy used? Beach clean-up? – Remember, ensure success and get something in the diary or action it at the same time as booking.
Note: Could you give your holiday an eco-tourism element? There are heaps of legitimate opportunities to help conserve wildlife and habitats around the world; projects that rely on you and eco-tourism to complete the valuable work they do. Just be careful, there are a few con projects out there.
On your first visit of the year – ask if you can chat to a manager about what they are going to be doing this year to help reduce their environmental impact.
Don’t give up if you don’t get to talk to the right person, starting conversations is positive. Once a conversation with the right person is started, it’s easier to keep it going…
Is there anything you can do to help? Have you noticed there’s a vending machine with bottled water instead of a fountain? Chat to your gym buddies and other customers and see if there’s anything they’ve noticed that could be improved?
Note: You can apply this tact to many businesses around you; try challenging your local café, corner shop, hair salon?
What’s your hobby? Take this opportunity to look at your kit – is there anything that you are using that is creating waste or is there something you don’t have that could set you up for a more sustainable New Year?
Are you an artist or creative – do you have waste products or offcuts that you could recycle? Could you use any materials that are more environmentally friendly?
Are you just getting into sports – could you get yourself a reusable water bottle? Set yourself up now for success throughout the year!
Look at how you’ve commuted and travelled in the last year, where could you improve and take action now: purchase an annual public transport ticket, buy yourself a bike? Take the action now to help change follow throughout the year.
When it comes to hair and beauty there are two key areas where we can make positive changes – with the products that we use, and how often, or how we use them:
Look at your beauty box – lay everything out on the floor, categorise if you’d like to, but evaluate what you’ve got and whether you need everything?
Choose a selection of those you need least and eliminate them from your shopping lists for the year – in one choice, you’ve reduced your consumption and the impact of the products you use!
Do finish what you have and prevent wastage, just make a note not to buy any more (sticking this note somewhere prominent can help remind you throughout the year).
In this process you might even find you have more of the products that you do use regularly than you thought, saving you from buying more this year.
While you’ve taken a look at what you are using, consider how many of those products contain ingredients that might not be biodegradable, or even plastic, or chemicals that can accumulate and cause harm in the environment – is it essential that these products need them?
Think about their packaging too – are there any alternatives? Is it time to trial re-fills or shampoo and conditioner bars?
Do your research now, find out what goes into your products, what other choices or biodegradable options are there, if there is an alternative packaging option, and select a set of products that are going to be the ones that you purchase this year.
Once you’ve got your list set, your choices for the rest of the year are going to be easy!
Note: Set yourself up with an account at the Ethical Superstore – they carefully select their products, so by buying from them, you are carefully selecting your products too!
Note: It is also important to note that there are not always perfect solutions – but that’s part of your ‘making a choice now’ – choose what makes a reasonable improvement for you.
With pressure to look our best, it can feel like you need or rely on certain products, but what difference would not using them make?
Things like hairspray. Hairspray and other aerosols release chemicals directly into the atmosphere – can you eliminate them from your shopping list? Or can you limit their use to special occasions?
Remember, the choices that your salon makes, you make too. The products that they use, you are using too. So, do your research – find out about the ethos and what products your local salons are using and choose one to use for the year.
If you already have a go-to salon, question what they are using and find out if it might be time to look for another.
Are hair straighteners a big part of your life? If you’re an everyday user of hair straighteners there’s no arguing that reducing how much you use them is going to save energy. But we understand this might be hard! So, here’s our proposal…
If you use your hair straighteners 365 days a year, set yourself a budget of days that you will use your hair straighteners this year, and keep a tally, maybe on a note on your mirror frame, to track how many days of your budget you’ve used.
The beauty of this tact rather than setting a resolution like ‘I will not use hair straighteners Monday – Thursday’ is that there is less pressure and so you are far more likely to succeed.
You can still use straighteners on days when you need to, and you can choose not to use them when you feel like you don’t have to. Think about it, if you set a budget of 300 days – that’s 65 days of energy saved!
See how you do; you never know you might surprise yourself and not even use your full allowance – even more energy saved!
Note: You can apply this budgeting technique to help you succeed in lots of different areas and ways! Get creative.
There are so many areas in the home where we could all lessen our impacts. So, we’re going to need to consider what we use, where can we make changes for the biggest impact and what is the most practical to achieve for your household. You could apply lots of approaches in this blog to these areas:
Could you ditch harsh chemicals and choose now the ethical cleaning products that you are going to use throughout the year?
Could you reduce the amount of single-use plastic that you bring home with your food shopping – could you set yourself up with reusable veg bags now or could you find a local greengrocer or market to use throughout the year that doesn’t package their veg?
Could you look at your energy consumption and providers and make a choice now to change to a greener, more ethical option?
Note: The Ethical Superstore could help you out with conscious consumption in the home too!
We all have areas where we could improve when it comes to waste and recycling. Try recording what you recycle and what you throw in the waste bin for a week – are there any easy wins?
Are you throwing something away regularly that could easily be replaced by a recyclable or biodegradable alternative – like coffee pods? Is there something you are not recycling? Could you recycle or compost your food waste?
Did you know that if food waste is sent to landfills it becomes buried and decomposes without access to oxygen? This means that as the food rots harmful gasses that damage the atmosphere are released.
When food is composted with access to oxygen, however, food waste breaks down differently producing hardly any harmful gasses. Recycling food waste or home composting really can make a difference!
Now is the time to get yourself prepared. Have a hunt around and find any tupperware, containers, reusable coffee cups, bottles or flasks, and dig out all your canvas bags – is there anything you need?
Could you buy yourself a set for work to take to the local café and collect your lunch or coffee to go, or a bag to bring back your lunchtime shopping? – Now you’re equipped, you’re far more likely to succeed throughout the year.
If you want a New Year’s Resolution with guaranteed success and impact – there are a host of effective charities dedicated to instilling change for a healthier environment.
Below is by no means an extensive list – but by donating now or setting up a monthly donation to one of these, or another of your choice, your support will be part of larger-scale change throughout the year:
Support a charity like:
Life, challenge and success are always better shared – so why not double your chances for success, double the reward, and double your impact on the planet by adopting a New Year’s resolution with a friend.
Just having someone else who you know is in it with you, to talk to and share tips, challenges and to celebrate with, will just make things that little bit easier – and more fun! Multiply your impact? – Get a group involved or share this blog to help get others inspired.
Here at Kitenge, we’re built on sustainable and ethical choices. Here are some of the choices we’ve made:
Kitenge’s master tailor, Abdallah, carefully cutting our ankara fabric to minimise waste
By choosing to shop with us you are making these choices too. Explore our range of made to measure clothing including women’s African print clothing, African menswear and our sale of ready-to-wear African wax print clothing – all lovingly handmade for you by our incredibly talented tailors in Tanzania.
Good luck, best wishes and thank you for making sustainable choices this New Year.
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