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Friendly Reminders for Your 2021 Sustainability Journey

As you look to build your list of resolutions for 2021, we're here to help you incorporate sustainability into the new year that lies ahead! Read on for inspiration to cultivate an open mindset and intentions to improve, regardless of where you are on this journey.

Written by
Hannah Jones

Embarking on a personal journey to embrace sustainability can feel both empowering and overwhelming, so we’ve got some helpful tips for a successful path. Something to keep in mind is that everyone’s journey is going to look different. There are countless ways of living sustainably that you can incorporate into your daily life that suit us each differently, and that’s okay. 

As stated by Anne Marie Bonneau in her book, "Zero Waste Chef":

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

In other words, many basic human actions can lead to a better planet for all. 

Starting Your Sustainable Journey Off Right 

One of the most effective ways to include sustainability in your life is by starting small. This can be achieved by evaluating your daily habits and choices as you make them throughout the day. Being observant can help you see the places where there are small things to swap or do to positively influence our environment.

Examples of these practices include minimizing water usage, implementing diet changes, reducing consumption of dairy and meat products, or even attempting a zero-waste lifestyle. There are several aspects within each of these habits that ultimately add up over time. As conscious consumers, it is our job to work to leave as small of a footprint as possible. 

To supplement the observations you make about your own routine, educational resources are important: seek them out! Read articles from a variety of news sources, listen to podcasts, and watch documentaries. If you have Netflix, "The Game Changers" and "Down to Earth with Zac Efron" are particularly eye-opening. These documentaries attempt to show viewers the true effects of personal actions on the environment and how to make a difference. 

Personal accountability is a key trait for educating yourself and developing a strategy to embrace sustainability. Use the people around you (in-person and on-screen) to hear stories, advice, tips, and personal experiences. Expanding your perspective to learn about how others are impacted by the climate crisis can be very shocking.

Others may have experiences that encompass aspects of climate change you may not have previously considered. Some examples include seeing or hearing about areas with polluted air, a lack of clean water, climate refugee status, or a lack of access to healthy foods. The intersectional perspective common with environmental issues is imperative when trying to understand the big picture of the climate crisis. As shown, there are numerous sources to help you stay informed.

Let’s Talk Swaps 

Zero-waste and eco-friendly swaps are alternatives to typical products: the goal here is to be more eco-conscious. Zero-waste or eco-friendly products include cleaning, household, or body care products that have several eco-friendly alternatives. Benefits of these swaps include less harmful chemicals and wasteful packaging. They’re often reusable as well, so try and opt for these instead of single-use products. 

Another important component is to inventory what products you already have: use what you have before you buy new again. Oftentimes when people begin a zero-waste journey, there is a misconception that one must go out and buy a ton of eco-friendly products because they’re better for the environment. However, doing that neglects the products you already have, and existing supplies end up being wasted as they sit idle.

Even if your current products aren’t zero-waste or environmentally conscious, it's much more practical to use what you have first rather than purchasing products that have the same use. Once you’ve used up your older products, then you can feel good about going for the eco-friendly options at the store. 

When it comes to plant-based swaps, there are countless options at stores and online that are becoming more and more accessible. For food, plant-based not only tastes great if cooked right, but these options are more environmentally friendly in terms of land use.

As explained further in The Guardian, "without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% - an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined - and still feed the world." Therefore, even just cutting back on meat and dairy products is something you can do each and every day to reduce your environmental impact.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to get discouraged about not doing enough to embrace sustainability, and it can be limiting to not have access to certain products. Nonetheless, individuals can do so much by identifying and making changes that work for them. This starts with improving a daily routine and habits.

Starting a journey to embrace sustainability comes with the support of like-minded people who share values, offer tips, and encourage one another. Brightly is one of many places where this type of community flourishes. In conclusion, the goal is progress, not perfection!