It’s finally here: 2021.
The New Year can be a good time for both reflection and looking forward with a new found clarity. We are currently in the midst of ecological, climate and societal crises, having a devastating impact on our wildlife, health and security.
And yet, at the helm of the Earth’s future, is us.
So, what can we focus on to help?
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Current carbon emissions are one of the biggest threats to safeguarding the planet’s future.
Using an online carbon calculator, such as at WWF, you can calculate your own carbon footprint to highlight the areas specific to your life to work on. This is something you can return to, tracking your progress for the planet.
Changing to a renewable energy provider will have a larger positive effect than usual as we now spend more time in our homes than ever. With travel restrictions, our footprints are likely lower than usual but aim to keep this up, perhaps continuing the 2020 theme of the staycation.
Eat More Consciously
One meat-free day a week is a small and feasible place to start, reducing beef in particular.
Although what you eat has a bigger environmental impact than where your food comes from, milage is still a factor. Keep the food miles on your plate low – buying fruit and vegetables seasonally and locally. Also cutting out specific items, such as avocados and almonds, that are very water intensive to grow and the most air freighted goods.
Some new 2021 recipes surely won’t go a miss!
Cookbook suggestions: Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet by Tom Hunt; One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones.
Reflecting on 2020 will likely hold some valued space for a new or a more intense appreciation for the natural world. Spending time outside is somehow both freeing and grounding at the same time; proven to improve our wellbeing.
The National Trust offers a 9-week guide that includes listening to birdsong, touching moss or bark, participating in a wildlife survey, watching the sunrise and planting something new. With an emotional attachment comes a deeper desire to protect nature.
Recommended books to rewild from anywhere:
Feral by George Monbiot; All We Can Save edited by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson; A Cloud A Day by Gavin Preter-Pinney; Wilding by Isabella Tree; The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.
Buy Less and Buy Better
Second-hand clothing skyrocketed in popularity last year and yet online fast fashion giants are still as popular as ever, despite being publicly called out for slave labour and selling items at an immoral 99% discount.
This disconnect is where we must now focus, looking into the supply chain and diversity of companies we are buying from. With greenwashing and blackwashing as rampant as they’ve ever been, it’s important to do your own research. Buy second-hand, local, from black-owned businesses and with ethics that align with your own.
Materials also play a big role in the environmental impact of a garment, and the potential health impacts on those that make our clothes. Encourage a more circular economy and reduce waste – for example, buying garments such as those made from ECONYL®, a yarn made from reused ghost fishing nets cleaned up from the ocean and industrial waste.
Be More Activist
Whether you have 100 or 100k followers on social media, sharing resources that might encourage others is a great way to drive change.
On the flip-side, make sure you’re following activists that inspire you too (@intersectionalenvironmentalist, @storiesbehindthings, @ajabarber, @sealegacy, @earthrise.studio, @fash_rev). Aim to diversify your feed, don’t just follow people that look like you – this is key.
Activism, however, goes far beyond online presence. Having motivating conversations with friends and family, signing petitions, writing to MP’s, supporting those who are more marginalised than you and, when and if it is safe to, going to marches are all important actions.
This article cannot advocate for the planet if it doesn’t also advocate for its people, and neither can you.
Donate Whatever You Can
Make 2021 the year that you actually commit to donating. That £2.75 you would ordinarily spend on a morning coffee (almost £20 a week) will make a real difference. Make a donating plan and stick to it with a direct debit, for example. Check if your bank offers a round up as you spend, making it so easy to put some money aside in a pot or a direct donation with each spend on your card with Roundups.
Donating your time and skills is helpful too. Reach out to local charities and grassroots organisations. Perhaps incorporating one of the other resolutions featured.
These six themes, poised as resolutions, are complex and nuanced, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Some things are easier for some people than others, perhaps start with the changes that you feel will make the biggest difference and make 2021 a year you show up for the planet and its people.
Author: Rose Ellis