Three Steps to a Sustainable New Year’s Resolution

by | Dec 10, 2021 | Lifestyle

Letters spell out "happy new year" surrounded by circular green leaves on thin stems.

The end of the year is almost here, which means many of us are starting to think about setting New Year’s Resolutions! The new year is a chance to evaluate our daily habits and current lifestyles, and perhaps begin or further the transition from conventional to conscious. 

It’s one thing to set a goal, but quite another to stick to it. According to Forbes, studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.

We’ve put together our best tips to help you curate a goal that you’ll stick to in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

 

First Step: Self Evaluation

A screenshot from the Global Footprint Network's Footprint Calculator that reads "What is your Ecological Footprint? How many planets do we need if everybody lives like you? When is your personal overshoot day? Take the first step!It’s hard to set a realistic personal goal if you don’t know where you stand in terms of sustainable living. Start out by asking yourself about your current lifestyle habits, where you want to get to in the future, and steps you might take to arrive there.

Possible Questions:

  • What does a sustainable lifestyle look like to me right now? In the future?
  • What do I currently do in my everyday life to live sustainably?
  • What sustainable habits would I like to incorporate into my day to day routine?
  • What daily practices would I like to reduce, which will support my efforts to live sustainably?
  • Where can I start with small changes that could eventually turn into bigger transformation?

 

You can also check out calculators like Global Footprint Network’s Footprint Calculator and the Water Footprint Calculator to get a baseline of your current habits.

 

Second Step: Write a Goal!

A top down photo of someone writing in a planner, with a cup of coffee and croissant to the side.

Photo by Cathryn Lavery

The key to successful goal setting is ensuring your goal is specific, realistic, and achievable. Vague, broad goals can be overwhelming and hard to achieve, making it more likely that you will fall off track. Also, make it meaningful to you! Whether trying Meatless Mondays for a month or learning about what can be recycled in your county or anything at all, write it out for yourself and put it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Once you’ve named and written a goal for yourself, make a plan of action. How will you go about achieving it? What will you do to make it easier to stick to? If focused on reducing meat intake, that may be buying veggie burgers and plant-based ingredients at the store. Surround yourself with tools and support to reach your goals!

 

Third Step: Start Your Practice

A group of people in light blue tee shirts pick up trash on the beach.

Photo by OCG Saving The Ocean

… and be kind to yourself! New habits are hard. There’s a reason most people don’t stick to their resolutions for more than 30 days. Be kind and patient with yourself, and know that success does not have to be perfect. If you forget for one day, acknowledge it and start again the next! Your goal will become easier over time. Small changes eventually add up to bigger ones, and each step towards your goal is a step in the right direction. 

Need some inspiration? Here are a few sustainable resolution ideas:

  • Reduce consumption of meat and animal products
  • Recycle properly, by educating yourself on what can be recycled in your area and how
  • Reduce fast fashion purchases by going to second-hand stores first
  • Stop using plastic bags entirely and bring your own reusable ones
  • Say no to disposables, keep reusable cups, cutlery and straws on hand
  • Start composting  in your backyard or by taking scraps to a local drop-off site
  • Choose something to DIY, be it cleaning supplies, cosmetics, food or otherwise

 

Starting with one new habit at a time is a great way to make your eco-friendly resolutions sustainable in more ways than one!

 

Author

  • Gabriela is a rising sophomore at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. She is an intended Environmental studies major on the social sciences track with a potential minor in sociology. She has always had a strong love for the environment through years of hiking on the nearby Appalachian trail and other outdoor adventures, but she found her passion for Environmental Justice after watching There’s Something in the Water in her first environmental studies college course. She is the student ambassador for Davidson’s Sustainability Collective and is passionate about making sustainability an accessible choice for all students on campus. In her free time, she loves long walks, plant-based baking, and having dance parties in her dorm room.