We all know what happens when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions. You set out with a life-changing goal - a green smoothie here, a gym session there - and then come 10 January, it’s looking more New Year… old you.
When we ultimately give up our resolutions, we blame our lack of motivation and hope that in 12 months’ time, we’ll have a new, motivational lease of life to finally smash a set of personal goals. But the actual issue with this tried-and-tested process is not us. It’s that we often set goals that we can’t realistically keep up.
Something which is becoming increasingly important for all of us is climate change and what we can do to support the planet. That’s why we’ve put together ten resolutions, which are realistic, achievable, and will help you have a more sustainable 2020:
1: Consciously ditch single-use plastic
Sometimes buying products packaged in plastic is unavoidable. You’re on a budget and when you’re car-less there are only so many supermarkets you can easily get to. But making changes which may seem small to you is a major step forward. Always carry a reusable water bottle, so that you’re not picking up a single-use bottled drink. When treating yourself to a meal at a restaurant, make a conscious effort not to use plastic straws. Check out our Zero Waste area of the Shop, which stocks everything from non-packaged foods, to sustainable toiletries. And if you want to help make a stand on a national level, sign Greenpeace’s petition to demand plastic-free supermarkets.
2: Switch to slow fashion
If you get the urge to head to a fast fashion website and splurge on your own mini haul, close your laptop and head straight to your own wardrobe. Reimagine your clothing: put together new combinations of outfits, hold a clothes swap with your friends to revitalise your wardrobe, or check out the charity shops in Clifton Village or on Gloucester Road.
3: Eat mostly plant-based
If you can commit to vegetarianism or veganism, that is incredible. But, instead of setting out with a goal that you know you won’t keep up, how about committing to eating mostly plant-based, or trying out Meat Free Monday. Remember that Instagram quote when you’re buying your Quorn – do as well as you can for the environment, and it’s okay if you slip up a little sometimes. It’s better to be realistic and keep it up, than to set yourself a goal that’s too difficult, just to slip back into old habits.
4: Ditch travel emissions
Just think: you can hop on a train to somewhere new instantly, without having to do the two-hour wait at the airport. And when you’re out and about in Bristol, bus it, bike it, walk it and save yourself a whole load of money!
You’re lucky that Bristol is such a caring, forward-thinking community: there are some incredible charities and initiatives based right here in the city that you can get involved in. From homeless shelters to food waste initiatives, volunteering is a great way to work towards a more sustainable lifestyle, whilst directly impacting the people of Bristol. If you’re struggling to work out which charity you’d like to support, head to VolunteerMatch, a website that can handpick you the best initiative for your aims.
6: Always carry your no-waste essentials
The easiest way to start? Grab yourself a canvas tote bag, place in it a reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup – and you’re good to go. Not only will you be saving your bank account with discounts for reuse cups and free tap water, but you’ll also be reducing the waste you create.
7: Choose your takeaways wisely
It’s easy after a long day of work to turn to takeaways to get your food fix. But with many delivery apps, the driver has to travel across Bristol to get to your door, racking up CO2 emissions on the way. You may also find that the food arrives with a whole load of unnecessary packaging. So instead of hopping on Deliveroo, why not download Too Good To Go, an app that works to limit food waste by partnering with many restaurants across the country. In Bristol, you’ll find everywhere from chain restaurants to independent eateries offering discounted, scrumptious meals that would otherwise have gone to waste. Pop out and pick up your dinner and voila – your new treat.
8: Try to limit food waste
When cooking at home, we can produce a lot of food waste. It’s estimated that seven million tonnes of food waste is created by UK households alone. UWE Bristol students throw away £9 a week in food waste! A scary figure – so how about always vowing to use your leftovers? For example, you could make a hearty stew from vegetable trimmings.
9: Educate yourself on environmental issues
Understanding the issues facing us and how we can tackle them is a big step in understanding the small changes you can make. Whether it’s watching a nature documentary every month, or committing yourself to keeping up with climate change current affairs, educating yourself is a good stepping stone in evoking change.
10: Commit to carbon offsetting your travel
Carbon offsetting is popular right now. It’s a clever idea because we all know we can’t be 100% CO2-free. Head to the ClimateCare Carbon Calculator and work out how much CO2 that trip abroad created, or how much of a carbon footprint you rack up during your weekly commute to university. Then, choose a charity to donate to that supports a sustainable initiative to reduce carbon emissions, such as a forestry project or a renewable wind farm proposal, thus offsetting that footprint. Carbon offsetting is an opportunity to take responsibility for the unavoidability of our carbon footprints.
Stuck for an initiative to use? UWE Bristol and The Students’ Union have teamed up with Bristol charity, The Converging World (TCW), with the aim of planting a forest that covers an area the size of Frenchay Campus. For every £3 donated, the charity is able to plant a tree in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu! For more information, check out this news article.
Make 2020 the year that you stick to resolutions, and smash your own green goals – realistically.