As New Years Eve approaches, people start asking the question: “What’s your New Year’s resolution?”
Mine will be to stop eating meat.
I was a vegetarian for a long time when I was younger. One summer, there was an incident with a super cute sheep on a farm that was later served as part of a wedding meal, and a trip to a salmon farm. Both those opened my eyes to the living creatures that we were eating. But in my teen years, bacon proved irresistible and I started eating meat again. Now, I hardly eat meat. I really only eat it when my boyfriend is home, we are out, or having dinner at someone else’s house. I have already given up fish and seafood – taking Marine Biology as a minor in university exposed me to the horrors of the seafood industry. There are definitely some sustainable fisheries, but the vast majority area just destroying the ocean.
Starting in the New Year, I will be giving up all meat. (However, if we are at a friend’s house for dinner and meat is the only option, I will go with the flow—I don’t want to be difficult, and I think a big part of this is just being aware, and flexible.) I will not eat meat at home, or at restaurants, and given the option will avoid it at friends and family’s houses.
This year, why not commit to changing one habit that will benefit the planet—or go crazy and try to do more than one!
Here are 10 easy ideas for you to try:
1. Cut down on your meat consumption. Within the past few years tons of documentaries have come out that outlined how bad the meat industry actually is for the environment – ethically, and in terms of habitat loss and greenhouse gas emissions. (Check out Before the Flood, Food Inc., and Cowspiracy to name a few). If you don’t want to commit to giving up meat entirely, that’s totally OK – I don’t like people being made to feel guilty, shitty, or judged (that’s not OK). But why don’t you try to eat LESS meat? Try doing “Meatless Mondays” in your household, or choosing a few days in the week to avoid meat. This will make a difference, and save you money! Eating vegetarian is cheaper, and there are tons of yummy plant based proteins. Here is a pretty infographic that gives you some great plant based protein options:
2. Invest in a reusable water bottle. Commit to NOT buying or using disposable water bottles. I recently bought a Tap water bottle – this is made from glass, and is a local company in Halifax so double win! Get used to carrying your reusable water bottle with you, and filling it up throughout the day. If you forget your water bottle, seek out water fountains, or simply ask for a cup of water if you are super thirsty. If you are at an event where they are giving away free disposable water bottles, simply say “no thanks!”
3. Invest in a reusable thermos/coffee cup. This goes hand in hand with #2. I need coffee to make it through the day – I know, it’s terrible, but thats just how it is for me. The majority of the trash I see walking around Halifax are discarded coffee cups. It is so easy to bring your own, and if your forget yours, either sit down and enjoy your cup of coffee at the coffee shop, or wait until you get somewhere that you don’t need a disposable cup. If you don’t have the cash to invest in a thermos, I’ve been using a mason jar – I had it in my pantry, so it cost me zero dollars! I did buy a Cuppow to make drinking out of it a bit easier though, and this cost me $8. I knitted myself a cozy to go around the jar so I don’t burn my hands, but you could use an old sock or something else.
4. Make “No straw, thanks” your mantra. I wrote a post about this before, but straws are SO useless. Lips were made for drinking from, and we don’t need straws. When you are out at a restaurant or bar this year, start asking for your beverages with “no straw please!” Do you own or work at a restaurant/bar/establishment? You can make an even bigger difference by going “Straw Free!” When I was bartending, I would simply not put straws in peoples drinks (unless they specifically asked for one, but that was rare) – so if you’re a bartender give it a try!
5. Reusable grocery bags. Say goodbye to plastic bags – this is a super easy one to do! If you always drive to the grocery store, leave reusable bags in your car. If you walk to the grocery store, leave them by your door where you can see them. These two things will make it easier to not forget them! I’ve forgotten reusable bags before and have carried my groceries to my car, or cart them out to the car (yes it can be a bit painful, but I feel much better about it than using plastic bags).
6. Reusable bulk bags. Try buying all your dry goods, snacks, etc., in bulk, and try brining your own bags! You can sew them pretty easily, or buy some (stay tuned… I am making some to sell!).
7. Try walking/biking/busing to work. If you are able to, try walking, biking, or busing to work/school instead of driving. I know this is Canada, and (depending where you are) winters can be quite hard, but if you are able, give it a go! Last year I braved the cold the majority of winter and walked 40 minutes to school – it usually went by really quickly with a good podcast on. Not only will this cut down your greenhouse gas emissions, but you will also save money and get some exercise in. If you have to drive for your commute, try carpooling with someone at your work or school! This will save you both gas money, and you’ll get to catch up along the way.
8. No waste Wednesday’s. Try committing to one day a week (doesn’t have to be Wednesday), where you and your household create zero waste! That means packing lunches and snacks in reusable containers, no single use items, and being prepared. If you already do something similar to this, try doing two days a week!
9. Make the switch to no paper towel. Our household hasn’t bought paper towel since May when we moved in together, and we don’t miss it! We have scraps of old t-shirts that we use to clean up messes, and lots of tea towels for bigger messes. This was a super easy switch for us to make, and it can be for you too. We have cloth napkins for dinners or meals – this also instantly makes all of our dinners classier – double win.
10. Try zero waste cleaning. Cleaning products can be wasteful, and typically filled with nasty chemicals! There are tons of great, eco-friendly, waste free cleaning alternatives out there – the internet is filled with fantastic resources. Read my blog post on my zero waste cleaning methods and recipes!
Let me know how it goes if you are try out any of these or if you come up with your own great idea!