plant-based recipes and mindful living

10 new years resolutions to make a difference

I’ve never been big on new years resolutions, mainly because I know I won’t stick to them. It’s easy to say I want to do this, I want to be that but to actually commit and do it can be pretty hard.

Becoming vegan certainly wasn’t a new years resolution and perhaps if it was I wouldn’t have stuck to it, and that got me thinking… I’ve stuck at being vegan because it’s not about me.

I saw the damaging affect the meat industry has on the environment and that animals were suffering horrifically because of me. How could I pour milk on my cereal knowing that the cow that produced it had her calf taken from her hours after it was born and if male, it was then killed or if female, enslaved to a life of continuous pregnancies and milking.

So, what if I made some new years resolutions this year that weren’t about me doing more exercise or eating less chocolate, but were about changing more of my habits to help the planet even more. AND what if I asked you guys to try and do them to. That way together, we would be making even more of a difference.

These ten new years resolutions are fairly simple and not too difficult to achieve. Mainly they involve starting to change the way we think about consuming. It will take some time and no doubt require a bit of research but I plan to help you out with some follow up posts. If we have all managed to achieve these 10 simple things by this time next year, we will all be well on our way to achieving a more ethically centred lifestyle.

1. Watch some films

Ok well I hope you can all manage to do this one. One of the main things that has led me to question my lifestyle over the years has been watching some environmental documentaries and also reading some books. I really believe that the hardest thing to do is to actually take that first step and question the habits we have and realise they are bad. Bad for the planet and therefore bad for us.

Here’s some documentaries to get started with:

Trashed -this is a very enlightening film about landfill and especially plastic.
More than honey -this is such a beautifully shot documentary about the plight of bees.
Gasland & Gasland 2 -these two documentaries are about fracking in the US which is fairly timely for us Brits as many of our homes are becoming licensed for fracking.
Do the math -this is a very American documentary but has a brilliant and simple overall message.

2. Reduce, reuse, recycle

We’re caught up in consumerism, wanting this and that, the latest this, the newest that. Lets stop and take a moment to think, do we really need that, how long is it going to last or be in fashion anyway. So much of what we buy ends up in landfill once we’re bored with it.

So lets all adhere to the three R’s in the correct order. Firstly reduce, do I really need that? That plastic bag for my shopping, that over packaged cauliflower, that new gadget. Secondly reuse. If i had a small cotton bag I wouldn’t ever need a plastic bag and I could keep on reusing the cotton one. At my local health food shop I could fill up my empty bottle of washing up liquid rather than buying a new bottle each time. Thirdly and finally, recycle. If you couldn’t avoid buying something in packaging, choose the item in recyclable packaging and make sure you do recycle it.

3. Eat less meat and dairy.

The health benefits of cutting down on meat and dairy actually speak for themselves but it is also better for the environment. Its more land efficient to get protein directly from plants rather than first feeding the plant protein to animals, then eating the animals. Its also more energy efficient and farm animals produce a huge amount of methane.

I’m not asking you all to become vegans overnight but you could think about increasing the number of vegan meals you eat each week. We will of course continue to lure you in with delicious vegan recipes for you to try out.

4. Sign up for a seasonal, organic vegetable box scheme.

This is such an easy thing to do as I discussed in one of my posts last year, convenience shopping. It supports British farmers, protects the environment from pesticides and keeps money away from those pesky money grabbing supermarkets.

5. Avoid buying food grown outside of Europe.

This is one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. It doesn’t matter how good for you those organic blueberries are, if they’ve been air freighted in from South Africa they’re pretty darn bad for the environment. Have a look at these organic blueberry stats from an article in the Independent back in 2007.

Typical exporter: South Africa
Food miles to UK: 5,600
Carbon (kg/pack): by sea 0.03; by air 0.77 

Here in Britain we’ve got a whole host of delicious soft fruits, if you want them out of season stock up when they are in season here and freeze them, stew them, make them into jam and enjoy them in the depths of the winter with a clear environmental conscious.

6. Move your money.

Take a leaf out of the Do the Math documentary and divest. They did this on a large scale but you can do it on an individual level too. It essentially means moving your bank accounts, savings and investments away from companies that invest in oil and into ones that promote more sustainable industries. We’re all fed up of bankers and their bonuses so lets stop supporting things we don’t believe in and stop giving them our money. All the hard work has been done for us, all you have to do is visit the move your money website and decide where to move your money to.

7. Buy clean, green electricity.

This is nice easy one and it makes environmental and financial sense. If you switch your energy provider from one of the big six to a provider that invests in 100% renewable energy like ecotricity, not only will you be reducing our dependancy on unsustainable fossil fuels, its cheaper and the more people that switch, the cheaper it gets. Win, win and win : )

8. Buy clothes that’s aren’t made in sweatshops.

Its pretty alarming that I was being taught about sweatshops at school about 15 years ago, yet its hard to find a high street chain that can guarantee it doesn’t sell clothes made in them. Personally I’ve had enough of buying into this, I don’t want this seasons on trend colour anything if its been made in poor working conditions by people on unfairly low wages. I’d rather go without, make my own, buy something second hand or buy from somewhere that guarantees its fair-trade.

9. Don’t put pesticides on your garden.

The two year British ban on neonicotinoid may have come into force (after they’ve already sown next years neonicotinoid laced crops) but it only applies to agriculture, you can still buy harmful pesticides at your local garden centre. It’ll be no good having a slug free garden when there’s no bees left to pollinate your flowers (or our food). Have a read of Hayley’s post, spread bee love, not pesticides to find out more.

10. Use eco-friendly cleaning products.

Ever thought what that grease busting ingredient in your washing up liquid does to a fish’s slimy skin when it eventually finds its way into our river systems? Well its not good. There are eco-friendly cleaning products readily available everywhere, when your bleach ridden toilet cleaner runs out, pick up something a bit less damaging to the environment instead.

Well that concludes our ethically focused new years resolutions list. I hope you’ll agree that they are all things we should be concerned about and that you’ll give them all a go over the coming year. Let us know how you’re getting on and we will endeavour to do the same and to go into more some detail in the coming months about why and how to go about them.

Happy New Year

Amy x

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