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7 Small New Year’s Resolutions to Commit to for 2018

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It is 2018 and we have some serious work to do around environmental justice. Here are seven small things you can do to make a bigger impact.

1. Limit your use of single-use plastics. Plastic is everywhere, it is in our oceans, food systems, and bodies. However, there are some small things you can do to eliminate single-use plastic and help promote a healthy planet. Do you often forget to bring reusable bags to the grocery store? Make a resolution to keep one on you at all times. Buy a lot of bottled drinks? Invest in a water bottle that you can carry with you everywhere. The list of alternatives to single-use is growing! Write a list of the single-use plastic in your life and commit yourself to eliminating one or two. While we need to hold ourselves accountable to better eliminate our plastic usage, we must also pressure corporations to stop forcing us into using single-use plastic. You can sign a petition here demanding an end to single-use plastic by large name brands.

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2. Resist and resist often in 2018. Last year was a tough year for climate justice but it was also a tough year for immigrants, refugees, black lives, Muslim lives, queer and trans lives, and many more— to say there is no intersection between the environment and social justice is wrong. The movement must continue on with even more tenacity than before. We must commit ourselves to resisting hate and oppression in all its forms. Make a resolution to yourself to find these intersections, learn from others, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, become a better accomplice and comrade. Write down ways you want to resist in 2018 and share it with your friends so they can hold you accountable. We cannot afford to stop taking action and we need all the help we can get.

3. Volunteer and spend time in your community. Building resilient communities is fundamental to our wellbeing. Volunteering is not only good for your community but also great for your soul. While we may not think of it often, the small acts of kindness every day can make for a lot of amazing change. You can opt-in to volunteer with Greenpeace or find another organization committed to doing amazing work.  Now more than ever we need to strengthen our communities and focus on our abilities to empathize with those around us. Through volunteering, you may gain new friendships and skills while making a positive impact. Every person has something to bring to the table whether it is strong motivation or amazing artistic abilities, let your passions be your guide and go make a difference. Let yourself be in community and let it inspire and rejuvinate you to be your best self.

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4. Be mindful of your consumption. While it isn’t necessarily affordable or easy to shop for local, organic, cage free, vegetarian fed eggs, you can think about other ways to make a better impact on the planet by being mindful of your everyday habits. Shop at a thrift store, turn off the water when shampooing your hair, shop from small, locally owned businesses, donate instead of toss, recycle, bike more, try energy saving light bulbs, the list goes on. Put some post-its around your home with reminders and goals around consumption until your practice becomes a habit! Although it may be difficult to make all the commitments we wish we could regarding consumption, baby steps do matter.

5. Spend more time outdoors. While this does not directly impact our carbon footprint, as environmentalists we should we actively learning to appreciate and love the planet we work to protect. Take your lunch outside, go for a hike, mosey through the park, and listen to the birds. Mark some reminders on your calendar or put post-its around your computer. Bundle up and enjoy some crisp air in the new year and beyond! Your body will thank you for some time outdoors. Studies have shown that spending time around nature reduces stress levels, improves mental health, physical well-being, and more. Get out and appreciate the world we work so hard to protect.

6. Learn something new every day. It can be easy to become immersed in social media, work emails, and other overwhelming activities throughout the day. Crackdown on some bad habits by committing yourself to learning something new every day. The knowledge you gain can be shared with the people around you or become better for yourself. Commit yourself to learning one new thing every day — you can go to a book reading, search out interesting (factual) news articles, listen to a podcast, or attend a workshop on something you are interested in learning about. Make a daily habit of writing down something you learned each day, soon you’ll be looking forward to things you’ll learn from the people and world around you. Our world has so much bountiful knowledge, it is a waste to not tap into it!

7. Do something kind for your body and self-care. As the great civil rights activist Audre Lorde wrote, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Choosing to prioritize yourself — especially if you are part of a marginalized group — is critical. The line between self-care and privileged narcissism can often be blurred, and while the incredible activism we do is important, we must recognize the privilege and ability to self-care and what that means for different people. Don’t let self-care become a buzzword, let it become something to charge social change. Reflect on the things that drain and energize you and work to commit to deeply loving yourself. Create a self-care plan. Yes, activism can be emotionally and physically laborious but we must continue on for the planet and people!

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Happy New Year!

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