The Hot Topic: Resolutions to make your New Year more sustainable
Here are some resolutions for sustainability that you could take that will not require that much effort, but will still add up to something significant at the end of the year.
The start of a new year is a great chance to set personal goals - motivation is at an all-time high, as a clean slate is laid out in front. Keeping that in mind, here are some resolutions that you could take that will not require that much effort, but will still add up to something significant at the end of the year.
Eat less meat
While this one is a no-brainer, and although it has been proven multiple times over that a meat-heavy diet has a much higher carbon footprint than a vegetarian or vegan diet, most people find it hard to entirely give up eating meat, including myself. Yet a great impact can be made by simply reducing your consumption of meat. I think the rule of half is effective and still not extremely hard to follow - whatever your current consumption of meat may be, try to reduce it by half. If you’re eating one meat-based meal every day of the week, make that three times a week, as a strict rule. Red meat is the worst for the environment, so try to limit that to once a month, even if you really like it. If everyone started reducing their meat consumption, the impact would already be low enough that nobody would have to entirely give it up.
In every sense of the word. Consumption of local produce, especially food, is automatically more sustainable. A red flag should be restaurants claiming to use ‘high quality imported ingredients’- if they are imported, they are obviously unsustainable. If special pancetta has travelled thousands of kilometres to be on your plate, it’s not doing the environment any favours. Watch out for restaurants with local dishes and flavours on their menu. Try to get some clothes stitched from local tailors and shops - in India, it’s so common and possible to do this. Supporting local is not just making your economy more robust, you’re saving the environment at the same time.
Focus on robust, long-lasting products
One of the biggest accelerators for climate change is the consumerist, use-and-throw culture that has been constructed for capitalistic profits. Brands dictate new styles and clothes for every season, people change phones every year, and instead of the old, sustainable instinct to repair, we purchase. And as soon as it stops being in our fancy, we hoard it for some time and then throw it away. This is not sustainable for any society. Think of any purchase as a relationship you would invest into - let it be robust, long-lasting, and weathered through all seasons. Let the purchase be something that will remain timeless and classic for a long time. Instead of buying many, different cheaper alternatives, buy a few that will do the deed for a long time. Like friends, only make space for those who last.
Use public transport
Using good public transport brings a certain kind of satisfaction that just can’t be replicated by private vehicles. Public transport is a good indicator of the health of a region. If public transport is available and convenient, using it will not only save you money, it will also save you a ton of time and effort. Everybody knows the usual arguments against not using it: it’s crowded, invasive, not always conducive for women, and they are all valid - but find ways around it if you can. As Gustavo Petro eloquently put it, ‘A developed country is not the place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.’
Plan sustainable vacations
While travel teaches us a lot and has great potential to increase well-being, it’s also now an extremely polluting industry. To have it both ways, why not try planning a sustainable vacation this year? Find a route map for a bicycle trip, or hop on trains (yes even Indian railways) to see the landscape at a slower pace. Slow travel is more sustainable if done properly - instead of flying to different cities, choose one and see the area around. Carry your own reusable water bottle, avoid the hotel room’s single-use toiletries, and carry your own stuff wherever possible.
Eliminate plastic from your life
This is becoming easier with increasing awareness against plastic usage. Pay attention to not just obvious items like plastic bags and straws but also plastic cups and lids, stirrers, packaging and toiletries. They add convenience to our lives for a very short duration in a very tiny way and then take hundreds of years to decompose. It’s not really worth it.
Choose your revolutions, and then follow them well - we tend to underestimate how much individual actions count.