As the month of January is over and February is now fully upon us, where are you at with your New Year’s Resolutions?
Personally I didn’t make any hard and fast resolutions, but a new year is always a good time for a mental check on habits they may not be healthy or that could use some improving. Most people try to eat better, change financial habits, exercise, or quit something they consider a vice. If you’re like me and didn’t make any resolutions (or maybe you did but they aren’t working out), now is a good time to try again. Here are three ways to make a change that isn’t just good for you, but exercises one form of sustainability or another.
Recycle, Compost, or Donate: I know that I just blogged about the composting ordinance in Seattle, but even if you don’t live here it’s something to try. I think winter weather is the best for starting a backyard compost pile, because you won’t attract too many nasty bugs or pests that are usually out in the summer months. Recycling can start by getting rid of all those leftover holiday boxes that may be lingering, or just by putting out a bin to get in the habit of recycling. Another way to start the new year is by doing that “spring cleaning” a bit early and donating the things in your closet that aren’t getting used. I try to go through my things two or three times a year to give or sell things to people who will be able to use them. This is a great way to see resources shared and put to good use.
Check before you buy: In addition to environmental sustainability, you can practice more economic sustainability as well. A habit I would like to develop more is buying from reputable companies and merchandisers who are responsible with their sourcing. Whether with my food, clothing, or home products, I want to ensure that the people who make it are treated fairly and paid well. There are many apps that exist to help you find out which brands make a commitment to responsible sourcing, and even more websites that can give you background information on the rating systems and criteria they use. I found http://www.free2work.org/ to be a really helpful website focused on labor practices against human trafficking and modern day slavery. They have industry specific ratings, so you can focus on clothing, coffee, chocolate, electronics or anything else that you have a passion about changing in your life as a consumer.
Join a group in your community: This can look like many different things, but the goal is to get involved with positive change. Social sustainability is about ensuring access to resources and ensuring those social resources will remain into the future. It includes maintaining relationships among the community to benefit one another regarding human and labor rights, and improving quality of life. This may look like being involved in local schools, or a group clean-up of a park, maybe even advocating for a farmer’s market in your area. Any sort of community involvement can help to ensure that public spaces are well advocated for and maintained. This resolution can be one that sparks a noticeable change in your environment and that you can be proud of. The SPU Community has lots of ways to get involved, including a service day this Saturday with Latreia or you can join an Urban Involvement team!
However you try to start a new positive habit, start with baby steps that you feel confident and excited about! Each habit takes time to form and starting small is a great way to ensure you aren’t overwhelmed and don’t burn out trying to do too much at once.