How to Make a Sustainable New Year's Resolution (Sometimes Smaller is Better)
We’ve all been there: you go to bed with bright ideas and willpower. You will exercise everyday, you will cut cookies out of your diet, you will save more money. But after a few days, or maybe even just a few hours of pouring all of your energy into achieving your goal, you find yourself back in your old habits.
It’s no surprise that these sudden life-changing commitments don’t last. Plenty of studies have proven that smaller, incremental changes are easier to make and more effective than sudden, big life overhauls. Everyone from Oprah to the bros grunting at the gym know that. But this principle isn’t limited to health and fitness, it can be applied to your personal sustainability goals, too. If you want to be a little kinder to the planet, read on for Blue Verve Project’s ideas for New Year’s Resolutions that help you and the earth. It’s easier than you think!
Reducing the amount of unnecessary plastic you throw away is one great goal for the New Year. None of us want 8 million tons of plastic to keep flowing into the ocean every year, but plastic is a tough habit to kick overnight. The good news is you don’t have to – and really you shouldn’t go on a rampage of throwing out every Ziploc in your house. The key to actually making your life more sustainable is by setting a small goal that you can stick to and then build on. If you can achieve the little steps, you can gain momentum to make harder changes down the road. Eventually, you’ll look back and see that you’ve actually accomplished a lot.
An easy way to set a waste reduction goal is by identifying one specific item or time where you use more plastic than you want to. This could be just one product in your daily routine, like switching your body wash for package-free bar soap. Or it could be adjusting your habits one step at a time, like making a cup of coffee at home in the morning so you don't need a to-go cup. No goal is too small.
One of my resolutions is to reduce the amount of plastic in my breakfast routine. I’ve made a few other environmentally-friendly lifestyle and product changes over the years, but plastic still permeates my daily parfait. I’ve yet to find a yogurt brand at my local store that doesn’t use plastic packaging. So for now, I am going to switch to the larger quart size containers instead of the conveniently packaged individual servings. This is obviously still plastic, but it’s less! For the granola, I am going to bring my own washable cloth bag to the bulk section to get granola without plastic. These are two really small steps, but it will add up over time. That’s five plastic containers every week that I’m swapping out for just one, and thirty or so plastic bags a year that I’m no longer adding to the waste stream.
I know I’m certainly not on the level of most zero-waste zealots, but I’m steadily using less waste. My small achievements have made measurable and permanent progress that motivates me to keep trying. It's never too late to start living more sustainably.
With all of the plastic-free products available today, it's never been easier to ditch unnecessary plastic. But it’s still near impossible to completely cut it out. For now, we can all make a few small changes that add up to big environmental impacts.
We'll go further together if we accept the imperfections and recognize each other’s progress.
Here are a few more ideas to get you started on a personal sustainability goal. Each of these ideas is super easy to implement and stick to, so you might find that in just a few months you’re ready to take on more
- Carry your own refillable bottle. We’ll make this one extra easy for you and send you the perfect 25oz stainless steel bottle if you donate to Blue Verve Project here.
- Bring your own reusable bags to the store. Sherpani's lightweight mesh collection works great for looking stylish while running all of the errands you need, without plastic. These bags can also be folded up and stored in your smaller purse so you can pull them out just when you need more space.
- Running a quick errand? Instead of hopping in your car, try walking or riding a bike. Grab your favorite Sherpani cross-body bag to carry everything you need comfortably and conveniently without being weighed down.
- Do you have a favorite takeout spot that still uses Styrofoam or flimsy plastic containers? Ask if they would allow you to bring your own reusable containers, or if you usually get it delivered – start a friendly conversation about how they might switch to compostable or recyclable alternatives. You would be surprised about how businesses are willing to listen to their customers concerns!
Hopefully these ideas motivate you to make a New Year’s Resolution that you can achieve. Let us know what your resolution is in the comments and inspire others to join you in your goal!