5 of my favourite eco-friendly resolutions for 2021

Last year I wrote “60 Zero Waste Resolutions for 2020” at the beginning of January. It was meant to be a sort of intro to low-waste living—a “tasting menu” of ideas to try. The list was widely shared on social media, too, and it was lovely to see so many people interested in trying out some Zero Waste swaps as part of their resolutions. But (spoiler alert!) 2020 didn’t exactly go as planned. Instead, it was harder than ever to make the traditional low-waste swaps.

Moreover, an emphasis on individual changes can seem downright silly when it comes to tackling systemic issues. It’s always been that way, but I feel that the challenges and suffering of 2020 made it even more apparent. Supporting our communities is more important than any individual Zero Waste swap. After all, low-waste living is about making the world a better place for everyone.

Are low-waste swaps useless? No, of course not. We still need to make individual changes when we can. But it is important to put our precious energy to good use. That means a balance of individual changes mixed with community work. Wondering where to start? Here are some of my personal favourite eco-friendly resolutions to (hopefully) help inspire you.

Reduce food waste

Why?

I’ve written about food waste previously. It’s a massive problem. An estimated 1/3 of all food produced in the world goes to waste, and an estimated 58% of all the food produced in Canada ends up wasted. Not only is a massive waste of resources, such as water, fertilizer, and energy, but wasted food further harms the environment by producing methane gas in landfills. Methane is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and an estimated 20% of Canada’s methane emissions come from landfills. Yikes!

What can we do?

Check out the blog post I’ve written about food waste for some tips about how we can fight food waste in our own homes, and in our communities. Another great resource is Love Food Hate Waste.

Pick up that sewing kit

Why?

I feel like mending things was a skill that previous generations had, that we somehow lost. Now, we’ll just throw “away” our socks if they get holes rather than darning them. But most of the time, there’s so much life left in clothing that’s discarded.

What can we do?

Learning how to sew a button, or do a few quick stitches is relatively easy way to make a big impact. (Take that, fast fashion!) For even more fun, look up visible mending. There are countless tutorials on YouTube and lots of inspiration to be found on Pinterest and other social media platforms. Have fun with it!

And for mending jobs best left to the pros, like bags and shoes, look up tailors and cobblers near you.

Have a low-waste period

Why?

A menstruating person goes through anywhere from 10,000 to 16,000 period products over their lifetime. The vast majority of these disposable menstrual products are made with non-biodegradable plastic, so they hang around in our landfills, waterways, and beaches (yes, really) for centuries.

What can we do?

Try out some low-waste period products! It’s not as intimidating as you might think, and you might absolutely love your new period routine (like I do). I have a whole blog post about making the shift, if you’re curious.

Grow something

Why?

Gardening can help us reconnect with the earth, develop a deeper appreciation for our food and farmers, and offer a hobby and source of exercise. Plus, it’s a great way to get the kids outdoors and away from the TV, haha!

What can we do?

Develop a plan, or a few goals for what you’d like to grow this year. No garden? No problem! Look up community garden plots in your area, or simply grow a balcony container garden. My favourite part? Knowing that fresh parsley for my homemade pasta sauce is free—and just a few steps away.

Get involved in something bigger

Why?

Here’s the big one. I wanted to end on this one for a reason: it all comes back to community. Our eco-actions don’t happen in a vacuum, and we need to ask ourselves what kind of world we want to create. Is it a world in which only a select few can make eco-friendly swaps for themselves and their families, or is it one with more love and equality?

What can we do?

Research local organizations that you’d like to get involved in. Check out my blog post “20 Ways to Take the Next Step” to help inspire you! Of course, COVID-19 makes it challenging to volunteer as we used to, but there are still plenty of ways to help out, either online or safely in person.

Wishing everyone all the best in 2021.

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