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January 2, 2020 News, Sustainability Tips

Thinking of making a resolution in the new year? Thought about making one that has a lasting impact on the health of the planet and your community? Making these types of changes, more often than not, will also be beneficial to your personal well-being, physical health, and lighter on your wallet.

It can be tempting to take the new year as an opportunity to make a complete over-haul of everything you would like to improve. What’s often learned, is that these changes don’t last. Having a plan to make impactful changes that are manageable is the best way to make resolutions that are sustainable.

SUSTAINABILITY FITNESS PLAN

A 7-STEP SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM

A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Making a plan is the first step to success in any behavioural changes within your life!

  1. Do an assessment. Take the time to do a scan of your life and your lifestyle. Where are you at now, and where would you like to be? What are the changes/improvements you would like to make?

  2. Reflect. Why are you making these changes? Do they allign with ethical values that are important to you? Are you hoping to reduce some of your spending? Are you feeling certain social pressures? Whatever the reason, understanding the “why” will help you keep on track and motivated.

  3. Figure out where you have the most flexibility. Depending on different circumstances within your life (family, work, school) some changes may be more of a challenge for you than for others. Choose changes that will have high impact within less initial disruption to your life, instead of those that cause high disruption with potential less impact. Make sure that these changes can be absorbed permanently into your lifestyle.

  4. Strengthen your sustainability muscle. While it’s possible to make huge lifestyle changes, they are not always sustainable. Commit to the changes you’ve decided to make, but don’t overdo it in the beginning. Once your habits and routines have adjusted to the initial changes, you can add on new ones. Bit by bit these behaviours that were once “changes” will just be normal routine within your life. Making changes comes through discipline, and discipline requires practice and repetition and repetition. Once your sustainability muscle is strong, what once took dedicated effort will seem second-nature.

  5. Build and sculpt. Start to stream-line your decision making. Once you determine your choices – i.e. a particular brand of food that fulfills all the social, environmental, and economic factors that you are looking for, you can stick to it and not have to make the decision again.

  6. Weigh in. Check in with yourself. Did you fall off track? Why? Maybe your goals were too high, or you got distracted, or lost motivation. Understanding the “why” will help you to decide if you need to adjust your goals, or acknowledge where you fell short and come up with future solutions.

FORESIGHT IS 2020 – LOOKING INTO A NEW YEAR AND NEW DECADE

LOOKING TO MAKE SOME CHANGES? HERE’S WHERE TO GET STARTED 

GOOD GREAT AMAZING
ENERGY Wash clothes in cold water Switch to an electric vehicle Buy green energy *
WASTE Bring your own grocery and produce bags Produce no/minimal edible food waste

Learn more

Only buy out of necessity and only buy second-hand
TRANSPORTATION Fill-up your car (with people!) to get some vehicles off the road. Poparide is an app that safely and reliably connects drivers with riders Supplement your commute with non-driving options walking/biking/public transit Take one less transatlantic flight every year**
WATER

Take shorter showers

(A 10-minute shower uses 75 L of water)

Purchase WaterSense certified toilets and bathroom fixtures

Decrease the number of new jeans you buy

(A pair of jeans and one t-shirt requires 20,000 L of water)

FOOD Purchase Fairtrade
coffee, tea, cocoa
Sign-up for a CSA (community-supported agriculture) box. Eat a plant based diet

 

* The majority of energy used in BC households is provided by natural gas. Purchasing ‘green’ natural gas ensures that with every unit of natural gas you purchase, the same amount of natural gas from a climate-friendly source is produced and put onto a pipeline. The majority of BC’s electricity (95%) is sourced from Hydro – a renewable resource.

**Reducing transportation via air travel is one of the most effective ways to reduce individual carbon emissions (save for choosing to have one fewer child). When you do fly, make sure to fly economy class (more people can fit onto one plane than when people take business class) and buy carbon offsets, to offset to emissions produced by the flight.

ARTICLE SOURCES

Canadian Energy Regulator (2020)

Institute of Physics (2017)

UBC Sustainability (2019)

Statistics Canada (2020)

World Wildlife Fund (2019)

Wynes and Nicholas (2017)