January 1, 2020. New year, new me. At least that’s how it goes, right?

It’s that time of the year again when many of us are swearing that we will quit smoking, start hitting the gym every day, or finally get onto learning Spanish.

Most of us know that New Year’s resolutions tend to be a whirlwind of overly-ambitious promises, most of which we never stick to. And for good reason – with society always telling us that we need to look prettier, get fitter or just become better overall, many of our goals can feel superficial and forced, thus making us unmotivated to follow through.

Still, this doesn’t mean that you should write New Year’s resolutions off all together – it simply suggests that you can start making better ones. Let 2020 be the year when you stop trying to reinvent yourself through setting huge, unrealistic expectations. Instead, try making small, mindful changes that benefit not only you, but the environment as well.

Below you will find 5 eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions that are actually worth making. These tips will help you slow down and become more present, all the while helping the environment. They might not seem huge, but I promise that if you stick to them, both you and the planet will be thanking you by the end of 2020.

Become vegan/vegetarian or try reducing your meat intake

Animal farming has a terrifying impact on the environment, both in terms of its CO2 production and of the vast amounts of natural resources it uses. The New Year might be a good time to limit your meat consumption, or to try cutting down on animal products all together. If you’ve been thinking of becoming vegan or vegetarian, this can be an opportunity for a fresh start. If that seems too big of a leap, try implementing smaller changes – maybe you can cut out red meat, or have a meat-free day once a week. Regardless of what you choose, know that every little improvement counts and contributes to a healthier planet.

Be more mindful of how you spend your time

Nowadays, too much of our free time is spent in mindless consumption – we shop, go to restaurants, pay to see movies and visit theme parks. This encourages a capitalist economy that thrives on excess, and fuels harmful industries link junk food chains and fast fashion. To make matters worse, only engaging in paid activities makes us unresourceful with how we spend our free time, turning our social interactions into a monotonous flow of eating and/or spending money together.

This year, try being more creative with your pastime entertainment. Next time a friend asks you to hang out, offer to go for a park walk together instead of just going for a meal. Ask them to join you for a new dance class, a seminar, or a volunteering shift at Taste Before You Waste.

The most beautiful thing about this resolution is that it will not only help you save money, but it will also make you become infinitely more aware of how you’re choosing to spend your time. You will learn new things, end up having better conversations with friends, and maybe even discover sides of yourself you never knew existed.

Connect with your food and appreciate its value

Eating healthier is a New Year’s resolution that most of us make, but one that a few manage to stick to. Due to the convenience culture we live in, we have largely become disconnected from how our food is prepared, relying on ready-made meals and snacks instead. This year, try approaching your food from a different perspective – one of appreciation and gratitude for all the hard work and resources that have gone into it. Try cooking from scratch more, and select produce that is local and seasonal. By becoming more conscious of how your meals are grown and prepared, you will naturally feel driven to choose fresher, healthier alternatives. Once you connect with your food in this new way, you will instinctively start to make better choices – both for the environment and for yourself.

Declutter your life

We live in a world of hyper abundance, where we’re constantly encouraged to buy and own more. Decluttering your life can go a long way in helping you clear your mind and making you aware of what items you truly need. Dedicate a couple of hours to going through your closet, kitchen pantry and toiletry collection – filter out everything that you’re not using, and donate what you can. You’ll be surprised by how good you’ll feel after that. By ridding yourself of the excess, you will free more of your mental space to focus on the essential.

Having a minimalist mindset can also be useful when making new purchases. Now that you know which clothes and products you really use frequently, you can invest in a few quality staples, rather than making mindless purchases.

Keep learning

Life is a learning curve, and there’s always something new to discover about environmentalism. There is a sea of information out there on pretty much every environmental topic you can think of – from veganism to zero waste to slow fashion. In 2020, make it your priority to continue educating yourself, and set a goal of watching at least one documentary (or reading one book) on environmentalism per month.

If this seems too daunting, break it down into smaller feet and aim at reading one environmental article (the TBYW blog has dozens of exciting entries!) a week.  Growing your knowledge can help you make more eco-friendly decisions, which can inspire people around you as well (and isn’t that the positive ripple effect we all want to create this year?).

Make 2020 your best year yet by choosing to take care of yourself and the planet. And remember, it’s not about being perfect – it’s simply about growth, kindness and trying your best.

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