3 New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Achieve Them!) for a Sustainable 2024
With the year coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on the past year and figure out our goals for the year to come. Whether it’s working on our fitness, mental health, or relationships, setting New Year’s resolutions is a great way to understand our needs, consider our wants, and enter a new year with mindfulness, excitement, and hope or even join in daily sustainability workshops.
Setting New Year’s resolutions are a great way to understand what’s important in our lives and work towards the things that matter to us. They can be a great way to bring us towards actions and goals that benefit larger movements, too. And when it comes to the environmental movement, every action, no matter how small, counts towards building a more environmentally conscious society and sustainable future.
In this blog post, we dive into some New Year’s resolutions that we can set to make sustainability central to our lives in 2024.
1. Growing Sustainable Eating Habits
Building healthy eating habits finds its way onto many new year’s resolution lists, but what about eating in a way that is healthy for the environment? From farming practices to food waste, food systems have a huge impact on the environment: huge amounts of water, fuel, and fertiliser go into growing the food we eat and getting it to reach our plates, and large areas of land are cleared to make way for plantations and livestock rearing, destroying rainforests and other biodiversity-rich habitats.
Eating in a way that is more environmentally conscious is a great way to make sustainability a bigger part of our lives. Here are some ways to get started:
Switching to a plant-based diet is one way that we can eat more sustainably. Meat production not only demands space and resources for livestock rearing, but also requires additional land for feed production, putting more pressure on the environment than plantation crops alone. Decreasing the demand for meat by cutting meat from our diets can help to reduce the environmental impact of the meat industry.
Switching to a plant-based diet can seem difficult, but there are many options available in Singapore to start eating plant-based. Popular hawker foods like vegetable biryani, chana masala and dahls with chapati or other flatbreads, Hakka thunder tea rice, and vegetarian bee hoon are affordable vegetarian options. Resources like the ABillion app can help us find new dining options to try. For home cooking, soy-based proteins such as tofu and tempeh are widely available, and vegetarian frozen ready-made foods are common in supermarkets as well.
And cutting meat from our diets doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Health factors, allergies, costs, and lack of options can make finding meat alternatives difficult. Food is also a big part of our social and family lives. So instead of going completely plant-based, we can start by cutting meat on certain days, or not eating meat for certain meals in a day.
Eating locally-grown food
Another way to eat more sustainably is to eat locally grown food. Most of our food in Singapore is imported, which generates greenhouse gas emissions and waste from transportation and packaging production. Eating locally grown food, or even growing our own, is one way we can try to reduce the carbon footprint of what’s on our plates.
While Singapore has always felt like a concrete jungle, local farmers have been working hard to produce locally grown foods for decades. Looking at local options not only helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the food we eat, but also supports our local farmers in their good work. You can find locally produced options in supermarkets, or buy them directly from local farms. Here at City Sprouts, we also hold bimonthly farmer’s markets in the heart of the city, with fresh produce grown by our farmers on sale! Follow us on Instagram to find out when our next one is!
Wasting less food
Reducing food waste is another way to be more sustainable in the new year. With the huge amounts of resources that go into producing food, food wastage is a wastage of key resources and energy. Food waste also produces greenhouse gases when it decomposes in landfills.
We can reduce our food wastage by making sure to pack away leftovers for later when eating out, planning our meals ahead to make sure we buy only what we need, and sharing excess ingredients (especially onions and potatoes which come in large bags) with our neighbours and friends so that they don’t go to waste.
2. Building Sustainable Buying Habits
Spending consciously to save money is another common New Year’s resolution, but we should also think about how what we buy impacts the environment. The production, packaging, and shipping of consumer goods consumes large amounts of natural resources, pollutes the environment, and emits greenhouse gases. With this in mind, being more conscious about how our purchasing choices can affect the environment, rather than simply aiming to spend less, is a great resolution to work towards for a sustainable 2024.
Being conscious about our needs and wants is a great New Year’s resolution. With constant sales, discounts, and vouchers, we are constantly tempted to buy things we don’t need. And this over-purchasing can drive the overconsumption of resources to create the items we buy.
Placing limits on certain kinds of items like electronics or clothing items to buy for the year is one way to prevent ourselves from purchasing things we don’t need. When online shopping, keeping items in the cart for a few weeks before purchasing can help us to prevent impulse purchases. And going into sales periods with a fixed shopping list can help us to save money on things we need and avoid buying things that we don’t.
Buying second-hand items rather than buying new is a great way to lengthen the lifespan of products and keep them out of the landfill. Many items that we throw out continue to be usable, and buying them second-hand means that less new items will be produced, using fewer resources and releasing less emissions.
Apps and websites like Carousell and Olio are a great way to buy and sell second-hand products, from clothes to furniture. Numerous physical thrift stores for clothing in particular have sprung up in places like Queensway Shopping Centre and Arab Street as well. Clothing swaps like those hosted by Cloop are also a great way to trade in old clothes for new ones without buying new.
Learning to do simple repairs like mending holes in clothing could be a useful skill to learn in the new year to refresh older items or second-hand purchases. Head down to Repair Kopitiam events to pick up mending skills for textiles, electronics, or mechanical items from members of the community! For more complex mends, taking items to tailors, cobblers, and other handypeople for repairs and adjustments can also help keep our items usable for a longer period of time.
3. Cultivating Sustainable Communities
As much as we can take individual actions in our everyday lives, we can only do so much when we act alone. Community-building is an essential part of climate action because it allows us to have important conversations about the climate and sustainability, understand the ways we can better contribute to the climate based on our community’s needs, and have support networks to build on in our sustainability journeys.
This year, we can resolve to participate more in sustainable communities, whether online, or in-person.
Online communities such as Facebook and Telegram groups are excellent platforms to share our interests and actions and learn more from people who have similar goals as us. Vegetarian cooking groups are great places to exchange recipes and share our knowledge on locally accessible meat alternatives that can make our plant-based journeys easier.
If you’d like to learn more about sustainable urban farming, join our Telegram community to find out more about our events and workshops!
Whether it be local community gardeners, neighbours, or interest and activist groups, communities that meet in-person also provide a tangible community to share and interact with on our journey to be more sustainable. Education and outreach groups are great ways to find out more about environmental issues and share them with people around us, while neighbourhood groups can be a great way to start sharing communities to borrow mending equipment like drills or sewing machines or share bulk grocery purchases.
Communities come in many forms, and engaging in them can be different for everyone. Look out for community events on the noticeboards of your HDB block, pop down to your community farm when it’s open, or create a group chat with your neighbours to start a conversation about sharing. If you are a student, check out collectives, interest groups, and activist organisations on your campus, or speak to school administration about forming your own.
While New Year’s resolutions are usually centred around personal goals, the hope that they can give us is a powerful tool in creating change. We can channel that hope into bigger movements by setting goals that can benefit things greater than ourselves. If we learn, listen, and act together, small actions can make big changes.
This approach not only keeps the initial New Year's motivation alive but also nurtures a lasting commitment to sustainability. Let's make this New Year not just about resolutions but about a renewed and sustainable way of life! 🌱💪
Interested in learning more about sustainable farming in the city? Join our community of volunteers, and keep up to date with our events through our Instagram page and Telegram channel. We would love to spend the new year growing with you!