The frosted arrival of January, the beginning of a new year! A new number on the calendar and remembering to write a 7 when inscribing the date. Suddenly it feels the negativity of the past can be put aside and the positives built upon. It can’t help but invoke feelings of starting afresh within us or present us with the ideal opportunity to try new things. That’s why many of us use this month to reflect on things we’d like to improve and even task ourselves with achieving New Year’s resolutions.
Whilst grand-standing New Year’s resolutions can be an insurmountable challenge that inevitably become forgotten, establishing new habits that will benefit you and the planet could be the way to go. Improve yourself, you bank balance and help the environment! Here are 6 suggestions from me on habits to pick in 2017 that will benefit you and help our lovely old planet.
- Exercise outdoors. Most of us think about starting exercise at this time of year, whether it’s plans to shift the extra weight gained from Christmas or to get fitter as a more long term goal. If you exercise in nature it relieves stress, makes you fitter quicker, provides a and you’re more likely to be willing to return and keep your resolution! Consider swapping an expensive gym membership for membership of an environmental organisation that will allow you free access to their sites. Your local Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, RSPB and the Woodland Trust all have sites across the UK. Get fitter, experience nature and make a positive contribution to protecting the environment all in one.
- Eat less meat. It’s scientifically proven that people who eat less meat are healthier and can even live longer. Production of meat is also one of the most damaging industries environmentally. Try Meat-Free Monday to kickstart this new habit. If you’re already Vegetarian, try having less dairy which is also an unhealthy element of our diet. I, for example, now opt to have oat or almond milk on my cereal every morning.
- Have quicker or fewer showers. Save energy, reduce water usage, time and, according to the Guardian, improve your skin’s health and natural balance. To make sure you stick to this habit, rather than daydreaming your time away under hot water, use a shower timer which you can buy here. If you’re a customer with United Utilities you can get one for free!
- Read nature books before bed. Watching or reading from screens before bed has negative impacts on your concentration and quality of sleep. Settling down with a (paper) book for a hour or two before bed every night reading about the wonders of nature is very relaxing and will put you in the right frame of mind for bed. Also learn more about the natural environment and gain new perspectives and appreciation for the world around you. Check out Meadowland, Common Ground and H for Hawk, if you need some inspiration.
- Turn your lights off and charge your mobile devices during the day. Whenever you leave a room (or the house) always turn the lights off. Try only having one set of lights on at any one time, after all you can only be in one room at a time! Instead of charging your phone etc. over night, which is particularly wasteful when these devices can reach full battery in a few hours, do it during the day. Also not charging your devices to 100% helps the battery to last a lot longer. Save money and emissions with these simple habits.
- Volunteer regularly with an environmental organisation. Another way to be more active in 2017 is to volunteer. It enables you to learn new skills, meet new people, or maybe even kickstart a new career. Wildlife Trusts, National Trust and Woodland Trust all have a wide variety of volunteer roles.
How to stick to your new habits
Apparently only 8% of New Year’s resolutions actually get achieved. Making small gradual changes and incorporating new habits into your routine are a much easier way to achieve the things you’d like to.
James Clear, author on behavioural psychology, has some brilliant advice on keeping to your new habits, check out his articles:
- 5 Common Mistakes That Cause New Habits to Fail
- Keystone Habits: The Simple Way to Improve All Aspects of Your Life
Have you got any new habits that are good for you and the planet that you plan to start this year? Or any old ones you’ve managed to keep going? I’d love to hear your suggestions!