The year 2016 is over, and let’s face it, it was not pretty. Everywhere I turned – Facebook and Twitter – they all were counting down the seconds until 2017, hoping that the New Year would be different.
While we might hope that a new year will bring a new us, we have to recognize that years are just marked days on a calendar. Nothing really changes in those final seconds, nothing instantly transforms us. We still have to make conscious decisions to move forward and change. Entering 2017 does not erase 2016. We still have to remember the choices we made to get to 2017.
Without getting political or anything, it’s time to recognize that the world is changing. It’s time to do our part of working with it or against it. Resolutions don’t have to be about getting fit or quitting smoking. They can be about making a difference in the world. Because whether you believe it or not – one person can make a difference, and when we work together we change the world.
Below are some resolutions to consider this new year and for years to come:
Recycle – Recycling is a small way for any individual to make a big impact on the world. Recycling reduces waste going into landfills and trash piling up on the ocean (yes, on). It’s crazy to think about all the places in the United States, where I live, let alone the world, that don’t take recycling seriously. In some states, it’s mandatory by law. In others, such as Florida, it’s not exactly easy to recycle. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Recycling is about conserving resources, saving energy, and preventing pollution. It’s also about keeping the earth beautiful and sustainable for future generations. If you don’t already recycle, now is the always the perfect time to start. If you’re interested in more information about recycling, this infographic from the EPA is a good place to start.
Bring Your Own Bags – Remember when I said the thing about trashing piling up on the ocean? There’s something called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it’s a floating landfill twice the size of Texas. It’s made up of a lot of plastic – plastic that doesn’t biodegrade, it just breaks down into smaller pieces. I could go on and on about it, but this video will show everything I want to say. Bringing our own bags reduces plastic production in the first place, cutting off the source. It doesn’t stop the problem, but just like recycling, it’s a good place to start reducing waste and conserving resources. Plus, reusable bags are easier to carry and so much cuter. And, if you don’t have your reusable bags one day, ask for paper. Paper is biodegradable and already made from recycled materials.
Volunteer – Get involved in your local community. Whether it’s volunteering at an animal shelter, hospice, or a church – this is where change can be seen and felt. Volunteering helps businesses like thrift stores and animal shelters cut back on overhead costs. It’s a win-win. Because when you volunteer and give back, you just feel good about it.
Read More – Reading is educating yourself. The more you read, the better, more informed decisions you make. We are living in an age of social media and selective news outlets. It’s easy to surround ourselves with like-minded news sources, but if we don’t step out of those bubbles, how do we ever learn? There’s more to reading than just news. Read a book! Make a reading list for this year, sign up for Audible.com. I believe that reading is an important part of growth and education. Even if you’re reading a novel, that’s nothing to scoff at. It’s still a source of intellectual stimulation, which is a part of education.
Eat Less Meat – I know this may be controversial. Yes, I am a vegetarian and have been for years, but I’m not asking anyone else to be. I promise. It’s normal in our society to eat meat without thinking about it. But when you do think about it, when you know the truth, you know eating meat creates a domino effect in every direction. It affects the environment, the workers, the animals, the environment (again), and us – the consumers. Our bodies are changed by the meat we consume. I’m simply suggesting to cut back. Try only eating meat a few days a week. Try meatless Mondays. Eating less meat will only do good things for you and the world. If you’re more interested in this subject, I urge you to read this. (I’m not a doctor or health expert in any way. I suggest speaking with a nutritionist or a doctor for more information about dietary risks.)
These are all resolutions that don’t have to be just for the New Year. They can be for any time in our lives. Change is gradual and doesn’t happen overnight. However, there is never a better time to start than now. Just remember – they’re small changes for us but they can mean big changes for the world. Please let me know in the comments below what you think of the resolutions. What are some changes you want to make this year?
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