5 New Year’s resolutions to help the planet in 2016

ID-100383599Making small changes can have a big impact so this January do away with impossible-to-keep resolutions and do something that can make the planet greener, help local or distant communities and save you money. Make the change for over 66 days and, according to Lally et al (2010), it could become a new habit.

  1. Help tackle climate change

World leaders agreed the Paris Climate Deal in December, but tackling climate change will take all our efforts, not just politicians and big business. The transport sector in the EU is responsible for about one fifth of greenhouse gas emissions so help reduce this by taking public transport, combining trips and flying less (somewhat easier now with the rise of video/conference calls). The energy sector is responsible for almost 30% of emissions and so being more energy efficient is an important goal across industry and society. Learn how to make your home greener, reduce your carbon footprint and household bills with this infographic.

  1. Fight poverty in your community

While significantly more people are in extreme poverty in developing countries it can be difficult, as an individual, to know how to go about helping people often far away. Poverty is global, however, and can be found in most communities in the world. In the UK, for example, one in five people are thought to live below the official poverty line, despite being the world’s sixth largest economy. There are various ways in which we can tackle poverty in our own communities for example by donating food, clothing and other items, by volunteering in shelters, community centres and after-school programmes. You can find out more about volunteering here and here, and donating here, here and here. Or you can become more involved and join a campaign action group such as with RESULTS or find a local group at Global Justice Now. The Borgen Project list ten ways we can all begin to fight global poverty on their blog.

  1. See the world from a new perspective

Educating ourselves on the challenges the world faces can be both enlightening and motivating. Opening ourselves up to new opinions, discussions and perspectives can also help us figure out the solutions. Here are some educational and inspiring TED talks from the past year.

Gary Haugen: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now.

Mia Birdsong: The story we tell about poverty isn’t true.

Pamela Ronald: The case for engineering our food.

Adam Smith: Let’s really feed the world.

Chloe Rutzerveld: 3D printed food: the future of healthy eating.

  1. Support small-scale agricultural and development projects in developing countries

There are a variety of microloan initiatives out there now, such as Kiva and Lend with Care, whereby an individual can give a certain amount of money to a project of their choosing and then receive the money back after a set amount of time. This money is loaned to small-scale development projects in mainly developing countries across the world, and similar to crowd-sourcing, can give individuals the collective power to make a difference.

  1. Eat a more sustainable diet

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) defines sustainable diets as:

“Those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.”

In practice this means eating less meat, eating more plants, reducing food waste and buying sustainable sources of food such as fish, eggs and meat. Buying locally and seasonally can benefit both the countryside and local economy as well as minimise the energy used in food production, transport and storage. Or you might want to buy Fairtrade products where possible, which can make a difference to producers and their communities in developing countries.

And these are just a few ideas. There are so many small ways in which we can protect the environment and fight poverty and hunger, whether it’s donating money or time or changing our behaviour. In case you need more ideas here are some helpful resources.

50 ways to help the planet

10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

Easy Ways To Be More Sustainable In 2016

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