It's that time of year again: with a glass of Prosecco in hand, we vow to start the new year with the best of intentions, bidding farewell to “bad” habits and becoming a better, brighter, more elevated version of ourselves (possibly a richer one too, and more athletic). We ride on this high for the first gloomy week of January, until reality barges in and, crashing and burning, we're forced to realise that maybe those resolutions were not only very ambitious, but also, let's face it – quite boring.
By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist and vegan fashion expert.
This year, instead of suffering through the hell of giving up chocolate, why not make a resolution that isn't about changing yourself (love yourself as you are!) but about changing the world? Where a bigger bank account or more toned thighs isn't motivation enough, the idea of helping our planet and being part of something bigger is likely to be the push you need to stay on track. Many of these resolutions will take you on a journey of learning new things about our planet, our society and ourselves. And as you see progress and evolution make space for a new way to live your life, you'll be even more inspired. Come next New Year's Eve, you'll be surprised at how far you've come.
Make this the year you finally go plant-based. It doesn't need repeating (but we'll repeat it anyway): going vegan is the single biggest thing we as individuals can do to help the planet. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that dropping meat and dairy from your diet could lower your carbon footprint by as much as 73% - not to mention that you would be saving the lives of approximately 200 animals every year from a miserable life on factory farms and a terrifying death at the slaughterhouse. It's never been easier or tastier to dabble in plant-based cuisine: virtually every supermarket, restaurant, and takeaway chain offers delicious options. So make 2022 the year you embrace the vegan life.
Ditch animal skins from your wardrobe. In 2022, your style deserves better than resembling a caveperson draped in the skins of dead animals. PETA notes that leather kills more than one billion animals every year, and has repeatedly been found to be one of the most polluting fabrics in fashion. Material innovation has paved way for so many vegan fashion options: from cactus leather at Luxtra to Tencel and organic cotton at Komodo, animal-free fashion today offers endless possibilities. Read the label: materials that are no longer allowed into your wardrobe include fur, leather, wool, mohair, cashmere, angora, down, alpaca, feathers, and any kind of exotic animal skin. Get clued up on new-gen vegan materials that are transforming fashion: leather made from pineapples, mushrooms, apples and cork; as well as wool made from recycled plastic bottles, hemp and cotton.
Reduce single-use plastic. Chances are, one of the biggest environmental villains in the world is hiding inside your kitchen, bathroom, and handbag – very likely, it's a huge part of your life. We're of course talking about single-use plastic – one of the biggest environmental problems of our time. Not only does plastic pollution affect human health through the emissions from burning or dumping discarded plastic in landfill, it also harms animals: marine animals ingest it and get sick, and wildlife gets ensnared in plastic garbage regularly. It may not be very easy to end your use of plastic entirely – after all, its versatility and convenience have made it a pervasive part of our society. But you can minimise your use through simple tweaks to your daily life: drink tap water instead of bottled, make your own hummus and other sauces/dips, and find a local health-food store that has a refill station to fill up bottles of washing-up liquid, laundry detergent, and shampoo. Contact your local supermarkets and put pressure on them to minimise plastic use. And always recycle: it may not solve the plastic pollution crisis, but it will contribute to minimising waste.
Say goodbye to fast fashion. Loving fashion does not have to mean harming the planet – but for a kinder wardrobe, we have to re-think our approach to fast fashion. This industry is rife with human rights issues and conditions of modern slavery – Fashion Revolution reports that only 2% of garment workers worldwide make a liveable wage. Due to its incredible volumes of production, fast fashion is also an enormous waste generator: it creates over 92 million tonnes of waste per year. The good news is that fast fashion is easy to quit. Learn to love what's already in your wardrobe and see how you can wear it for longer. If you're on a budget, check out your local charity shops or download apps such as Depop and Vinted. And if you have the means for it, support a small, ethical brand that is actively working to improve conditions in the industry and lift up the individuals that make our clothes.
Start volunteering. Perhaps the most heart-warming resolution on the list, this one will not only gift you with a sense of accomplishment, it will also fill your 2022 with happy memories – and allow you to be a part of making the world a better place. Start by finding a cause that's close to your heart. If it's poverty, sign up to volunteer at a food bank. Care about ending homelessness? Call up your local charity that helps the homeless and ask if you can join a food drive or other initiatives. All about animals? Local shelters often need volunteers. A few hours every week make a big difference, and your time spent volunteering will without a doubt elevate your spirits as well as help create a kinder world. Time well spent – and a resolution well made.
And as with any New Year's resolution, it's always best to aim for progress over perfection. Even if you make a mistake with your new plant-based diet, end up with a plastic water bottle in your shopping or miss a few weeks of volunteering, the results achieved through the initial efforts are better than nothing. Get back on track and see the mishap for what it was: a natural, normal part of being on a journey.
Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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