I’ll be honest, I felt pretty powerless for most of 2018.
I felt like the year passed by as I sunk into a series of depressive episodes while watching the world add more fuel to a burning economy and environment.
I felt the people around me sink slowly as many lost their jobs and others across the country were evacuated, again, from forest fires that all but engulfed everything they love.
I felt useless—like the little girl who wanted to save the world couldn’t even save herself or her supposed “tribe”. Then I got angry. And tired. And angry again. And so on and so forth as relationships dissipated between a few funny memes and I retreated from the city to the country and from the office to freelance.
Looking back, I wasted a lot of time sifting through climate catastrophe news and anxiously worrying about the future. It didn’t help. It didn’t help me, my friends and family, my community, or the environment. It didn’t do anything—except maybe add a few pounds to my waistline… And this year, in 2019, I want things to be different.
I won’t save the world, but I’ll save myself from the misery of knowing that by retreating further. Into my home. Into my community. Into my own power.
You see, what I learned last year is that grandiose ideas like “I want to help humanity” or “I want to protect the planet” don’t mean anything. They’re lovely platitudes with admirable intentions behind them, but they’re too big to tackle with these two hands.
The most impactful way for me to proceed is to narrow my focus
Have I stopped caring? No, it’s actually the exact opposite. I’m finally channeling my care into impactful action instead of just stewing about caring and caring about stewing.
So here are my 9 resolutions for a more eco-friendly new year. If you notice, there’s a common theme: gaining skills and doing something positive with them. Gardening. Canning. DIYing. All good things.
1. Start an organic food garden in my backyard
Right now, my backyard is a blank slate. I’m planning to add 4 or 5 raised beds with tomatoes, herbs (basil, thyme, mint, parsley, chives), lettuces, and trellis’ for strawberries, cukes, and zukes. I’m also going to add some lavender plants for making tea. Oh, and some bins for potatoes.
I know my aspirations could easily get the best of me, so I’m intentionally limiting myself to things I already know how to grow and things my household frequently consumes.
2. Add native perennials to the sides of my home
The sides of my house are bare, less one lovely lilac bush and a hearty hosta. I want to beautify these spaces while helping the local pollinators, so I’m planning to add a few plants like black-eyed
3. Finally fully ditch disposable coffee cups
I’ll be honest, I have a bit of a coffee problem and when the need strikes, well, I’ve been known to grab a cup on-the-go even if I’ve forgotten my reusable mug.
I know I’ll continue to forget my mug at least some of the time, and when I do, well, I think it’s a great opportunity to slow down and actually enter the shop, sit down, and drink a cup from their mug.
Alternative and more cost-effective options include carrying coffee with me from a home-brewed pot or cutting down my coffee consumption altogether. We’ll see where this year takes me.
4. Find a sustainable coffee option that I can actually afford
My coffee problem isn’t confined to when I’m out of the house. Actually, the majority of what I consume, I do so at home. With me and my partner both working from home full-time, we go through between 2 and 4 pots a day. It’s probably of the most unsustainable grocery items we regularly buy, but I have yet to find an alternative that’s actually affordable. I’d love to find organic, rainforest alliance stuff, but I’ve only come across the latter in the Nabob variety for like $16 a tin. Any advice?
5. Try my hand at making natural bar soaps
I’ve made liquid hand soaps in the past, but have yet to venture into bar soap making. This is the year. DIYing natural bar soaps will help my household avoid toxins, save money, get crafty, and I’m also hoping I get good enough to give these bars as gifts to friends and family.
6. Can my own tomato sauce with homegrown tomatoes
A little out of my element here, but I’m determined to not only grow a great crop of
I don’t want to admit how many tin cans I go through in any given month, but I will say that I use a lot of diced and crushed tomatoes in curries, sauces, and spreads, so this could significantly increase our self-sufficiency and avoid a bunch of tin from being tossed into the recycling bin.
7. Set up rain barrels in my backyard
I’m hoping to upcycle some old barrels rather than spend upwards of two hundred bucks for fancy-looking ones.
I think we’ll add a few to start and see if we can keep the garden with rainwater alone, but I’ve never done this before so I could be really underestimating how many barrels it will take to water all the crops I have planned.
8. Spend more time in the woods and less time in malls
This year, I want to spend less and live more. I want to walk the trails instead of crowded places that encourage me to buy new items. I know this will benefit both my wallet and my mental health.
9. Shop thrift stores, markets, and antiques before buying anything new
Finally, in 2019, I want to find the forgotten things and reclaim them rather than supporting our disposable, convenience culture.
I’m hoping this last resolution will build me into a more conscious consumer, making me consider twice before impulse-buying. I’m not much for mindless spending
I also want to make a greater effort to support local artisans and farmers and decrease our dependence on big box stores.
For me, 2018 was about coming to terms with the state of the planet and my place in it. I admit I can’t do much in terms of large-scale change, and I’m finally okay with that. In 2019, I’ll turn 30. I’ll reconnect with nature. I’ll get my hands dirty. I’ll do something other than stew.
Cover image credit: Pixabay