4 Sustainable Lifestyle Goals
for the New Year
It’s the new year, so you know what that means! It’s resolutions time, baby. Although, it must be said: Setting goals is infinitely preferable to setting resolutions. Resolutions tend to be either too generalized (“I want to save money this year”) or way too black-and-white for our gray world. Instead, re-phrasing your intentions for the year as specific goals will help you focus in on what’s attainable, and how to go about attaining it.
And this year, in light of the latest grim statistics about the havoc we’re wreaking on our planet, you may find yourself wanting to set some sustainability-centric goals for 2019. Maybe you want to start your journey to zero-waste, or you’d like to try to use only non-toxic cleaning and beauty products. Maybe you want to cook more, with better, fresher, organic foods. Or maybe you want to live a little greener, but you don’t know where to start. Regardless of what your eco-friendly interests are, rest assured: Making simple, minor changes to live more sustainably absolutely matters, in the grand scheme of things.
If you need suggestions or inspiration for New Year’s sustainability goals, here are four of our favorites.
Drive less. The environmental consequences of driving cars are dire. Car pollution is one of the main causes of global warming, so by vowing to drive less, you can help do your part to cut air pollution and decrease our planet’s collective dependence on oil. Walk, bike, or take public transportation whenever possible this year. Not only are walking and biking better for your physical health, these are both great ways to improve your mental health, as well. Plus, walking and biking can make you a better, more attentive citizen, since you’re actually paying attention to the natural world around you rather than whizzing by in a gas-guzzling car.
Say NO to plastic. It’s time to get real: Plastic is really, really freakin’ bad. It’s bad for us, it’s bad for our wildlife, it’s horrific for our oceans, and it’s fundamentally awful for the very air we breathe. And yet, we’re literally dumping the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every single minute, people. Since plastic can’t biodegrade (nope, it just breaks down into tiny pieces over hundreds of years until it’s eventually swallowed up by marine life, so that’s cool), we’re talking about damage that can’t be undone here. This is why forgoing straws, plastic cups, and plastic grocery bags is so important. Instead, invest in reusable items—water bottles, produce bags, containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk, the list goes on—and commit to using a little less plastic every year. The sea turtles (and your own lungs!) will thank you.
Eat better meat, or just eat less of it. Factory farming isn’t just incredibly inhumane, it’s extremely unsustainable and extremely bad for the environment. This year, elect to eat less meat altogether or procure pasture-raised, grass-fed meat (and dairy and eggs, if possible) from local ranchers and farmers whose practices you trust. Find a farmers market near you and get ready to enjoy as much fresh, bountiful produce and guilt-free meat as you can handle.
Ban fast fashion from your life. Gigantic chain stores that carry everything but the kitchen sink (okay, most of them carry kitchen sinks) seem too good to be true—and that’s because they usually are. Our need for fast, cheap clothing is insatiable, and it’s ultimately destructive. Fast fashion exploits workers, it’s often produced unethically, and it’s environmentally harmful: In fact, the fashion industry is the second-most polluting industry in the world. This is in large part because fast fashion focuses on speed, low costs, and delivering new clothes every season, which leads to an increase in toxic waste and water pollution. So, this year, opt for high-quality, ethically sourced clothing (remember, consumers have the power to change the industry!) over the cheap stuff. You could also consider donating clothes you no longer wear to a friend or thrift store. Or, better yet, hold a clothing swap with a few friends—not only will this be a fun social gathering, but it’s also a great way to ensure your clothing doesn’t end up in a landfill.