Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions

let your values guide your intentions

Benjamin Brunner/

Establishing goals for the New Year can help us move forward with an optimistic outlook. Before setting out your intentions, consider looking at why resolutions haven’t worked in the past. Were they sustainable for your lifestyle? Were the goals too unrealistic? Were you too hard on yourself? Here are a few tips for creating goals for the new year that are sustainable in every sense of the word.

Be Realistic, Kind and Specific

Being kind, realistic, and specific are three great tips I have discovered that have helped me in setting out sustainable New Year's resolutions. 

Be realistic

So many times in my life, I’ve been overambitious in planning New Year’s resolutions for myself. Achieving too much was not attainable, and I was setting myself up to fail. When I’ve focused on a smaller number of ideas – even if it's only one - I have been much more successful.

Be kind

Try not to be hard on yourself if you miss a day or don't follow through the way you envisioned. Doing so will only hinder your motivation! Recognize that it's normal for things to get in the way. Maintaining a healthy attitude that you can always pick up where you left off will help you on your path to success. 

Be specific

Identifying exactly what you intend for yourself helps to keep focus and reduce the obstacles along the path to reaching your goals.

Other Tips for Setting New Year's Resolutions

Write it down: Writing goals down helps them to become a reality, instead of an idea in your head, and frees the mind of unnecessary clutter. Depending on your learning style, you can try other techniques, such as making a vision board. This will help you to visualize your goals and keep you accountable for taking steps towards achieving them.

Accountability partner: Enlisting accountability partners, such as kids (they’re great at calling you out!), friends, or loved ones, is a great way to keep motivated, and you can get involved in helping them keep their resolutions too.

Make it tiered: Set beginner, intermediate and advanced goals. You may find motivation in having additional challenges ready and waiting!

Start when you’re ready: While this article is about New Year’s resolutions, don’t let the timing hold you back. Sometimes we feel more motivated in the spring or before the New Year. The timing doesn’t matter as much as the intention and goals you set for yourself.

Sustainable Lifestyle Resolutions

Here are some ideas for resolutions that are good for you and the planet too.

Reduce Food Waste
Rescued Produce

#1: Reduce food waste

Did you know that approximately one-third of food produced for people globally is thrown away? Whether it's from imperfect produce, seemingly unusable food, or overstocked kitchens, so much edible food gets wasted every year. Most of this waste is completely preventable! Here are helpful hacks to reduce your food waste in the new year:

  • Most grocery stores have areas with reduced produce, baking and other food items that are nearing their best-before-dates. Tip: check out programs such as Flashfood, Feed It Forward, and Spent Goods for more information on how to support food rescue practices.
  • Start with a themed “use-it-up” meal one or two days each week. This really sparks creativity in the kitchen and can be a lot of fun. 
  • Sharing food with neighbours or putting it up on Bunz and Facebook groups ensures that food is less likely to be wasted.
  • Imperfect produce recipes like fruit leather, jam and veggie broth reduce a significant amount of waste. When life gives you imperfect apples - try making apple sauce! 
  • Use your freezer: try freezing foods such as herbs and tomato paste into ice cube trays.
  • Composting is a great way to put food waste to good use. There are many options, from curbside pick-up to sharing your neighbour’s backyard compost or having a vermicomposter indoors. If you don't have a pick-up, check out ShareWaste to see who might have a compost bin near you. If you’re unsure what your city/town offers, check your municipality’s waste management schedule for more details.

I recently wrote a blog post entitled Bye Bye Food Waste. It’s chock-full of tips to reduce food waste! It was inspired by a fabulous organization, Commission for Environmental Cooperation and their free Food Matters Action Kit designed for youth.

Conscious Consumerism
Rescued Bears - an abandoned stuffed animal adoption agency and social enterprise. Photo credit: Rescued Bears.

#2: Practice Conscious Consumerism

This year, you can practice conscious consumerism by resolving to do any or all of the following: buy less, buy secondhand, buy local and support BIPOC owned businesses. Keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Do you really want something? Try waiting a week or more before making the decision. This can help significantly reduce impulse purchases.

  • Make lists and stick to them!

  • Try to shop secondhand first (Poshmark Canada, iSpy, Rescued Bears, Tiny Toy Co. Facebook Marketplace). If you can’t source something secondhand, support your local and BIPOC-owned businesses. (Tip: try the directories at Not Amazon and ByBlacks)

#3: Meditate

This may not be the most obvious sustainable resolution, but finding peace, patience, focus, and serenity is the best way to make an impact. Regular meditation may help you find more gratitude and patience in your life. Try the following tips:

  • Set a daily time limit for meditation and work up from there.
  • Don’t get down on yourself when you miss a day or two. Remember: you’re still ahead of where you started!
  • Try using an app like Headspace or podcasts such as Meditation Minis and Yoga Bunny.
Helping out at a school fundraiser

#4: Volunteer

  • Find an organization you are passionate about, and reach out to see how you can help.
  • It doesn’t have to be a research project. Often there are places that are part of our lives already that could use a helping hand, such as the green team at your child's school, somewhere in your neighbourhood, or in the workplace. 
  • Use your skills to help build community resilience. Some ways you can contribute include social media, newsletter writing, community organizing, cooking, repairing, or other constructive and helpful activities.
Become an advocate
At an Indigenous rights and solidarity rally

#5: Become an advocate

Use your voice! Let companies know what you like and what you wish they would improve. This can be done in-person, over the phone, by email or via social media. The best way to have your concerns heard is to address them to those who make the decisions. Contacting government officials on issues that matter to you and your community helps to support the kind of world you want to live in.

#6: Reduce your phone time

Want to spend less time on your phone and more quality time with your family? This resolution may be on many parents’ list. Here are some tips to help:

  • Leave your phone in a different room at night to reduce the nighttime temptation.
  • Change notification settings and remove any disruptive notifications. 
  • Leave your phone at home when out for a walk or spending time with family.

#7: Spend more time outdoors

Sometimes the best way to care for yourself and the planet is to spend time with both, such as going for a hike in the woods. If you’re feeling tired, frustrated or stressed, try going outside and see how those feelings dissipate.

Did you know:

Resolve to do your best

Whatever resolutions you choose, know that you are trying to be the best version of yourself - and that in itself means a lot. Being your best self has a ripple effect on those around you. You've got this!