Sustainable resolutions for 2013


Every year at this time, thousands of writers are tasked with finding a fresh spin on the annual New Year’s Resolution article. Meanwhile, those of use who still believe in resolutions make lists that we know will soon be misplaced or, worse, become painful reminders of what we could have accomplished…if only.

Often, resolutions simply overreach. Maybe it’s the effect of too much celebrating the night before …. or not enough… but our New Year’s Day resolve, while impressive, can be overly optimistic.

That doesn’t mean we should stop trying. For 2013, perhaps we can employ a less lofty and more focused approach to making…and keeping… resolutions. Here are a few sustainably minded suggestions.

1. Consider what sustainability really means to you. Are you most concerned about household toxins, healthy food, fair trade, open space, your local economy or a DIY lifestyle? Try picking one or two areas to focus on in 2013. You don’t have to neglect the others; just leave off making resolutions about them until 2014.

2. Be an incrementalist. Eating only organic food or banning all toxins from your home are worthwhile goals. But unless money is no object and you have ample time to explore every conceivable thing you might purchase in the coming year, you’re likely to fall short of such commitments. Rather than setting yourself up for failure, why not tackle a goal one small step at a time? You might start growing your own organic lettuce or learn to make vinegar-based household cleansers. That may not feel like much. But the little things can add up over time.

3. Measure your progress. To keep yourself engaged long after January 1, consider ways to track the positive changes you’ve made. This could be as simple as making diary entries or checking things off a list. Or perhaps you could celebrate in some meaningful way, such as having an all-local-food dinner party to acknowledge the steps you’ve taken around eating local.  Taking a moment to recognize what you’ve accomplished, even if it seems very small, could help you stay motivated as the year goes on.

4. Work with others. Changing the world is too much to do alone. Once you’ve chosen to focus on one or two “types” of sustainability (such as the environment, local economics or community), consider not only what you can do as an individual, but also what you might accomplish by joining forces with others. This might mean becoming a member of a group or organization, volunteering your time or simply tuning into what others are doing around a particular issue and adding your voice when you can.

Here’s to a happy, sustainable 2013!