By the time you’re reading this, Christmas decorations have been packed away, wrappers and cards recycled, resolutions listed out and pinned on the wall.
The cat and I welcomed the first day of 2018 with an open notebook and determination to live a different lifestyle this year. For the cat, I’d like to think his resolutions are “less chicken, more cuddling.” For me, my resolution is to work toward living a sustainable lifestyle.
But what is sustainable living? It is a phrase you hear all the time, in the news and in blogs, now more so than ever before. To put it simply, sustainable living is practicing a lifestyle that has less impact on the planet to make sure that future generations may still have natural resources to use and enjoy.
So with this in mind, I want to focus on three main goals to get me started on my journey:
- Be a sustainable and mindful shopper
- Transition to low-waste, and eventually become zero-waste
- Switch from an omnivorous diet to a pescatarian diet, and eventually a vegetarian diet by the end of the year
As much as I wanted to be a vegetarian who can fit all her landfill trash in a mason jar as of January 1st, I had to be realistic. After all, I am human and know my limitations. I won’t be able to say no to seafood right now, and I’ll still be purchasing certain items that will probably be wrapped in non-recyclable plastic until I have educated myself thoroughly with alternatives.
Below is a guide to how I’m going to tackle my first goal this year. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!
Goal #1 – Be a Sustainable and Mindful Shopper
Moving to New York for BuyMeOnce USA gave me an advantage in living minimally. I had to cram my whole life into two suitcases and a carry-on, including a high-street wardrobe to last me until I can properly build up a BuyMeOnce capsule wardrobe. So for 2018, I vow to:
Thoroughly think about the purchases I make. This means no impulse buying, adopt a one-in/one-out policy when buying essential items (no three shampoo bottles here) and really take stock of what I have in my closet and cupboards. Our founder Tara made a ‘Things I Don’t Need’ list before her first minimalist year, and I have made a variation of it to suit my lifestyle. Because I moved into a furnished apartment, I don’t need new pots and pans; despite the urge to replace what I have, they’re still fully functional. When the sudden urge to buy hits me, I merely remember this list and stick to my guns. My new mantra? “Buy only when it’s time to replace. And buy only quality products.”
Only purchase from responsible companies. Ah, the perks of the job! We research companies diligently at BuyMeOnce, and we look into company values such as their carbon footprint, sustainable practices and whether they source their items ethically. For brands I’m not familiar with, I’ve learned to let go of instant gratification when in shops and treat it as a research trip.
Look at other alternatives like secondhand shopping and swap parties. Cost-saving benefits aside, secondhand shopping diverts items from the landfill. HousingWorks, a New York-based nonprofit, has diverted 6.4 million pounds of textiles from landfill since its launch in 2011. In my recent trips to thrift stores, I saw BuyMeOnce-approved brands like Lands’ End, Eileen Fisher and LL Bean, all looking great and as durable as the day they were manufactured. These brands can also be found on sites such as eBay and ThredUp. Organizations like GrowNYC hosts Stop ’N’ Swap, which I’m excited to attend this January, where local residents swap household goods, clothing and toys for free. For bookworms like me, I found a wonderful organization called Little Free Library that fosters neighborhood book exchanges around the world.
Get to know my local cobbler and tailor. When a pair of boots I purchased last year proved to be too high for New York sidewalks (the cons of impulse buying whilst on holidays before I knew better), I was advised that you can actually have the heels shortened. And so off they went to my new cobbler; he shaved off half an inch, which was enough for them to be given a new lease of life. I also vow to have my thrift store finds altered and shortened to fit my unique frame, and I’m loving that I’m supporting local businesses as well.
In my next post I’ll be writing about how I’ll be tackling a low-waste lifestyle with the intention of being zero-waste by the end of this year. I’d love to know if you’ve got similar New Year’s resolutions like me and how you’re approaching them!