New Year's resolutions likely will look different this year, if they haven’t been written off entirely as we grapple with the heavy effects of the continued pandemic. The past year has shown us how important it is to take time to decompress and make space for productivity being less of a priority during a global pandemic that has rippled effects in public health, physically, mentally and emotionally. While this is still the case now, entering a new year is a great time to set intentions and think about the year ahead.
We’re thinking about the ways we can be sustainable in 2021 that are also sustainable in the midst of the pandemic. Here are our favorites if you, too, need some inspiration to combat the climate crisis this year:
- Transition to a low-waste lifestyle: in order to make wasteless habits sustainable for yourself, it’s suggested to take baby steps. Rather than phasing out all single-use items in your house, start with one area, like the kitchen. Replace paper towels with reusable ones like these, or see if you have any unused cotton clothing you can use as an even lower-waste and economic alternative. You can go to zero waste shops, like Earthwell Refill in San Diego, a black-owned zero waste refill store to refill household products instead of buying a new container when the product is done. The Buy Nothing Project has local Facebook groups where you can give away items you no longer need and also request items you need, helping reduce waste while getting to know your neighbors.
- Cut emissions by biking, walking or taking public transportation: while we’re not getting out much during quarantine, it still makes a difference to opt for biking, walking or taking public transportation instead of driving for local trips, if possible.
- Spend time with soil: connecting with nature is an easy way to reduce stress, take a break from the sedentary lifestyle (that most of us experience) and see the nourishing, symbiotic relationship that’s possible between the earth and us humans. Stand on the grass to “ground” and rebalance your body, or plant seeds to grow your own low-cost, local, sustainable foods.
- Embrace the activist within: each of us has the ability to be an activist in our own way. Find what you like most so it’s sustainable; it may look like speaking during public comment at a city council meeting, volunteering at a local climate organization, or signing onto letters and petitions.
- Find sustainable eating options: When you’re tired of cooking, especially during the pandemic, restaurants can use support. When you want to order food, opt for local, small businesses that try to integrate organic foods and sustainability into their operations. No one business is perfect, but many are trying to make a difference, like SOULMUCH, with their mission to reduce food waste by rescuing unused grains and turning them into cookies. You can look for Surfrider’s Ocean-Friendly Restaurant certification.
We hope that you are able to enter 2021 with some renewed hope, inspiration and motivation despite the year we are leaving behind. And if not, self-care is likely the most important priority. After all, we cannot fight the climate crisis and strive for sustainability if we ourselves are not taken care of.