2021 New Year’s Resolution Ideas For Sustainable Living
By: Madeleine Schlosser
As the craziness that was 2020 finally comes to an end, we may be reflecting on the ways our lives have transformed in the past year. For some, quarantine offered a chance to pursue new hobbies, get into an exercise routine, or reconnect with long-distance friends over Zoom, while for our resilient essential workers, it meant savoring however much down-time they had. Whatever 2020 meant for you, I think we can all agree that it was a year of big changes, self-reflection, and slowing down.
With 2021 approaching, many of us will be making resolutions with the health of ourselves, our fellow human beings, or the planet in mind. At everymeadow, we believe that adopting eco-friendly habits not only has a positive impact on our beautiful home, but allows individuals to lead simpler, more fulfilling, and happier lives, full of connection to themselves, their community, and nature. To help inspire your 2021 resolutions, here are three ideas to consider for a more sustainable year.
1) Go Fast-Fashion Free
Okay, so we know you might be thinking, ‘that is impossible!’, and we hear you. While the well-documented negative impact of fast fashion on people and the planet is important to acknowledge and share, we realize that it’s entrenched in our society and that for those beginning their sustainability journey, quitting altogether is unrealistic.
Rather than setting an unattainable goal, we invite you to consider your current shopping habits and brainstorm a resolution that feels right for you. Are you a shopaholic who can’t resist a good deal? Try a purchase-free January or alternating no fast-fashion months throughout the year. Are you just starting your sustainability journey and wanting to be more thoughtful with your purchases? You might commit to buying gifts from small, sustainable, or ethical businesses for the year, or researching brands that you will check first when you shop for something new. Checking local thrift stores or online vintage markets is another great way to help the Earth while also finding unique and high quality items, and an easy swap to make.
No matter your current habits, buying from small, local, sustainable, and ethical companies is a fantastic way to be more eco-friendly and to support small businesses at this difficult time.
2) Go Minimal
If you haven’t heard about the reemergence of minimalism as a lifestyle, now is the perfect time to do some research. Netflix’s documentary Minimalism is a great place to start and can help inspire your 2021 resolutions. While minimalist living and sustainable living are not interchangeable, the two often go hand-in-hand; consuming less is almost always more sustainable, and making eco-friendly lifestyle changes usually inspires change to purchasing habits.
The basic idea of minimalism is to live with less; choosing quality over quantity. Now it’s no secret that we love consumerism in the U.S., and after the year we had, we all deserve to treat ourselves. However, being stuck at home is also the perfect time to take a hard look at your overflowing clutter closet, bathroom vanity, or wardrobe and make an honest assessment of what you use. You may rediscover your old favorite dress hidden in the back of your closet, find that you need less than you thought, or at the very least, create a more zen home.
Like quitting fast fashion, the steps to a minimalist lifestyle depend on where you are now. Since we could all benefit from a closet cleanout, you could make a goal of getting rid of items you haven’t worn in the last year, or commit to donating 1-2 items for every new thing you want to buy. Selling or swapping clothes are great options that benefit both the planet and your bank account, and donating gently used items can help those in need. As an added bonus, my personal experience with buying less has inspired my creativity and my own unique style. Another option is to do no-purchase months during which you buy only necessities, or promising yourself you’ll get rid of x number of things before looking to buy more. This can be a great option for those who aren’t ready to quit fast fashion, but still want to work on changing their habits.
Whether you focus is on streamlining your wardrobe, your home, or your skincare collection, we all have something to gain by taking inspiration from the minimalism philosophy. No matter how small of a goal you make, you can feel good knowing you’re helping the Earth!
3) Go Zero Waste
In recent years, the movement to address the world’s plastic problem has gained considerable traction, in big part thanks to social media sharing. While many companies and communities are slow to change, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. Just a quick search on Instagram shows over 6 million posts using #zerowaste, showing that individuals around the world are looking for ways to produce less trash.
Like the last two suggestions, this goal is not something you can achieve overnight. Begin by documenting your trash for a week or two to analyze where it’s coming from, and use this information to come up with a resolution that works for you.
If you’re someone who gets delivery most days, you could start asking for no extras, such as napkins, plastic utensils, or condiments you have at home. For people who are throwing out a lot of spoiled food, try one of the many tricks to reduce food waste such as meal planning, changing how you store and organize your produce, finding creative ways to salvage old fruits and veggies (smoothies, anyone?!), or even learning about composting. If you want to consume less plastic packaging, you might decide to start with changing your food shopping habits by choosing to BYOBag, buying (or making) reusable produce bags, buying bulk where possible, or looking into farmers’ markets in your area. Another option could be trying one DIY project per month that helps reduce your waste, such as recreating your favorite takeout dish, upcycling an old pair of jeans, testing out natural face mask recipes, or home-brewing kombucha.
With sustainable living inspiration all over social media these days, it has never been easier (or cooler!) to go green. Sustainable living means different things to different people, but whether it’s consuming more consciously, reducing your waste, or buying small and local, every action helps to create a better world. As we transition back to normal life over the next year, I hope you will all take time to congratulate yourself on any positive changes made in 2020, and to set intentions for 2021 with the planet, its people, and your well-being in mind.