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New Year’s Eco Resolutions

New Year’s Eco Resolutions

The Christmas decorations are down, the leftovers eaten, and the routine and the rewards of a new year lay ahead. For many people, the hanging of a new calendar is a time for reflection and planning…yes, a time for making resolutions. This year, in addition to the eating less, exercising more, being nicer to your friends sort of resolution, why not resolve to be kinder to Mother Earth?

In traditional Chinese medicine, winter is considered a time for resting rather than expending energy. So that makes January and February a good time to lay plans and to start building momentum for change. But we all know that while making resolutions is uplifting and inspiring, keeping them can be hard work. American health care provider Kaiser Permanente’s New Year’s and Health Issues Survey has found that nearly sixty percent of people make New Year’s resolutions but just ten percent of us admit to keeping them.

Motivational speaker, author and time management specialist Stephen Covey, in his book First Things First, talks about the need to stay focused on the things that are truly important and not to give in to the time-consuming demands of things that might appear to be important but are really not crucial to your goals and mission. That’s good advice for making change in any aspect of your life.

But the first task is to decide what change you wish to make. And in doing that, be specific and make your goals concrete. Merely resolving to live a more environmentally careful or healthy lifestyle is not enough. Instead, specify a few detailed steps that you can take along that path, such as deciding to set up and use a compost or vermiculture bin, or to switch to fairly traded coffee and not buy imported strawberries out of season, or to leave your car at home three days a week in favor of public transit or your bicycle.

Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” But for many of us, the changes we wish to see are overwhelmingly large and complex. So be realistic when making an eco resolution and remember that change happens through a million small steps.

Don’t expect more of yourself and your family than what you will be able to achieve. For instance, if you are on a tight budget, you might find it a stretch to buy only organic food or to sign up with a renewable energy supplier. But conserving water and electricity can cost nothing and, in fact, can lower your household expenses. Speaking of your family, be sure they are onboard with any resolution that affects their lifestyle. In fact, involving them in discussing and deciding upon your eco resolution will be a great educational experience and ensure their buy-in.

Involving your family, friends, coworkers or neighbors is also a good way to ensure success in keeping your resolution. Banding with others who share similar resolutions will help you keep yours on track. And the more people who decide to lessen their ecological footprint, the faster we can lessen our collective negative impact on the ecosystem.

Once you’ve chosen what change or changes to make this year, write down the resolution and the plan for keeping it. Keeping an activity log or scrapbook will also help you to stay focused on your goal, and to retain the enthusiasm with which the resolution was made.

If, during the past year, you have already taken some definite steps to make you life more eco-friendly, now is the time to give yourself a pat on the back while you are thinking what could be improved. Planning to reward yourself for your successes is an important motivation for keeping on track with your resolution. But don’t lose momentum by berating yourself or your family if results take longer than you expect.

In fact, you should aim for gradual results. Copy nature’s model of incremental and lasting change that accompanies evolution, rather than the disruption and catastrophe that results from sudden changes like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Lastly, making a permanent change of this nature requires you to have faith that the future will be better as a result of the change. Since developing faith is a spiritual act, don’t neglect the intangible, heart- and soul-centered aspects of life at the same time as you research ethical investment companies or turn the compost.

Happy New Year!

Repost from Natural Magazine

Wendy Priesnitz is Natural Life Magazine’s co-founder and editor. She is the author of ten books and has been a journalist, broadcaster, public commentator, and change-maker for over 35 years.

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