New Year’s Resolutions: The Sustainability Edition

By Aada Orava, GLOBUS Correspondent

As the year and the decade end tonight, many of us have our New Year’s Resolutions ready for trial and (oftentimes, and ultimately) error. Most of the time we attempt resolutions that improve our overall wellbeing and lifestyle, such as exercise, diet, meditation and so on – you know the gist. However, as we enter the new year 2020 in the cheerful spirit of impending climate catastrophe, it might be most appropriate to tweak our Resolutions in the direction of sustainability, to go nicely with the decade-left-to-save-the-planet theme of the coming year. And what could be better for helping us on our way to meaningful change than the ultimate lifestyle guide of the masses: a 6-step wikiHow article?

  1. Brainstorm about changes and improvements you’d like to make

Considering that the world is on course to a 3.2°C temperature increase by the end of the century (UNEP, 2019), this should not be too demanding. Reducing consumption might be a good resolution, whether it be in terms of travel, meat, clothing, energy, water, single-used plastic, or essentially anything – thanks to the undeniable lack of sustainability in current consumption patterns, the options really are unlimited!

  1. Choose one or two attainable larger goals.

This one might be trickier, since, as mentioned, the options are unlimited. Nonetheless, if you try to start too many things at once, it will easily become too overwhelming to keep up with any of them, so try to pick some realistic goals that correspond to your current shortcomings

  1. Create “systems.”

In terms of transforming your lifestyle into a more sustainable one, this means the concrete and gradual changes you have to make for a more environmentally conscious outcome. Say, you decide to cut down water use, the “systems” that you create will have to do with reducing the number or the length of your showers, washing your laundry only when it is truly necessary, collecting rainwater for use outside and so on. In other words, it’s pretty obvious.

  1. Look at your list and reflect, using the SMART mnemonic.

All jokes aside, this might be the most useful tool for making meaningful climate commitments (heads of state, take note). SMART, as expanded by wikiHow, represents a set of criteria for goals and targets, consisting of being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable. Essentially, make sure that your goals are such that you can catch yourself in a lie if you fail to pursue them. For example, if you want to ‘eat more ecologically’, define what it means; it’s much easier to, say, measure if you are avoiding meat and eating locally than to reach an abstract goal with no such concrete markers.

  1. Talk to others about your goals.

“People who tell others about their goals are more likely to accomplish them”, supposedly. In terms of the climate, more often than not people tend to be all words and no action, so make a point of avoiding that. Regardless, it is a good idea to inform others of your plans, not only to get support and pressure for achieving your own goals, but also to inspire others to take on their own challenges.

  1. Print out copies of your resolutions.

Errrr… Perhaps skip this one.

And there we go! Good Luck to everyone! Hopefully these tips lead us all to more successes than failures this year – the future of the planet is at stake, after all.

Header image: Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

References

United Nations Environment Programme. (2019). Emissions Gap Report 2019. UNEP: Nairobi. Available at: https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/30797/EGR2019.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y [Accessed 22 December 2019].

wikiHow Staff. (2019). How to Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions. wikiHow. Available at: https://www.wikihow.com/Accomplish-Your-New-Year%27s-Resolutions [Accessed 22 December 2019].

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