Do you have sustainability goals for 2023?
In June 2021 I shared my Sustainability Journey. I spoke to how my life seemed to shift away from what the sustainability movement said I should be participating in. But I made this shift because those approaches and lifestyles were not sustainable for myself personally. Although my life, during this period, may not have looked very sustainable, I knew that I was not in a place to work on sustainability on a deeper level.
I promote the mindset that sustainability is a spectrum. There is no one size for all and each person is called to live as sustainable as possible within their means. Forcing sustainability causes the opposite effect.
Sustainability, purely by its’ definition, is:
- Capable of being sustained, 2a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged, b. of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.
Sustainability is about more than reducing waste and buying local, it also calls us to address root systems that prevent ourselves, our society, and nature from being sustainable in all aspects.
A lot has changed since I wrote that post in 2021. I have grown as a person, my resources have changed, and I have grained a deeper understanding of what sustainable living means. It is not a buzzword. Instead, it is a practice that impacts us in every aspect of our lives.
In lieu of New Year Resolutions (which I am not a fan of) I am sharing sustainability goals for all aspects of my life in the New Year. I am looking to engage more deeply and take my sustainability journey to a new level.
My 2023 Sustainability Goals
I have broken down my sustainability goals into different categories. This mainly is to help organize my thoughts. But also, breaking down my goals reflects how sustainability is can be present in all parts of our lives.
These are not meant to be SMART goals. I don’t have a specific timeline for each action. Instead, these are the collective ways I want to work on sustainability throughout the year. Little by little I will work on each. one, recognizing that I cannot focus on all of them at once and being kind with giving myself the time to make them habit.
Starting a compost has now been on my bucket list (no pun intended) for several years. When I got married I received a table top compost bin, basically to house the food scraps until I could move them to the larger compost. The only issue is that I started using it without a game plan for a larger compost and that just left me with rotten vegetables underneath my kitchen sink.
Composting is valuable to me for a few reasons. 1) it helps eliminate food waste. Those scraps of food that I cannot really use in a recipe can be broken down into nutrients for new life; 2) more waste is diverted from landfills, where even organic material is unable to break down; 3) it’s a “crunchy” addition that aligns with my life.
Buy from local farmers markets
Surprisingly I have not frequented farmers markets much over the past several years. For a long time my excuse was that I didn’t know where to find them, especially ones that were closer to me. But after doing some research, I know where they are located and could easily plan to incorporate them into my monthly shopping.
Buying from local farmers markets supports small businesses, especially local farmers. It also generates a lower carbon footprint because my food does not have to travel as far and by buying in season there is a lower demand for other resources.
My goal is to visit farmers markets 1-2 times a. month to purchase produce – and anything else that may catch my eye.
Recycling and Reducing Use of Single Use Items
Recycling where I live is frustrating. We don’t have a great program and there are so many restrictions and ways to contaminate recyclable items. We try to recycle as much as possible but I know that a good portion probably just gets diverted to the landfill, defeating our efforts.
I intend to better educate myself on recycling in my community, to assess how I can help more items get recycled. The solution may be to rely on smaller independent businesses that target recycling certain products.
But even more than that, I want to look into where I can eliminate the use of as many items as possible that are single use. This step will lead to greater sustainability as opposed to an unreliable recycling program.
Financial sustainability may not come to mind immediately when talking about a sustainability journey, but it is absolutely something to be included. It is one area that I need a lot of work on, and one that will improve all aspects of my life. This is one of my biggest sustainability goals for 2023.
Impulse purchases are the bane of my existence. And they are something that I think a lot of us struggle with. Some of us are addicted to shopping. Others lack impulse control. Or maybe we use buying items as a way to regulate ourselves when we feel like we don’t have control.
Whatever the reason, excessive impulse shopping can negatively impact our finances, our mental health, and the environment.
My goal is to do some inner work and be more intentional with my purchases. Not running out and buying a replacement if we don’t need it yet. Letting the adrenaline subside and deciding if that random item on the shelf will really bring value to my life. In making excessive impulsive purchases I am being unkind to my future self, creating unnecessary stress
Monthly empties and enjoying what I have
This goal builds off my goal for intentional purchases. Growing up we had what we called an “overflow cupboard.” This was an extra pantry where we stored extra canned and dry goods. The idea itself isn’t bad. It allowed us to go grocery shopping less frequently and provided some insurance if the weather got bad. But I also remember throwing out a lot of cans that would expire.
There needs to be a balance.
I often purchase a replacement item when my current item is getting low (i.e. shampoo, face cream, etc.). But then I realize that my spatial awareness is lacking and said item ends up lasting me for several more weeks. That was money that did not need to be spent.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with having some backup, but it can quickly turn to excessiveness that is a poor use of your resources.
My goal is to not replace items until they are empty (I live somewhere where I have close access to Target or Amazon Prime, so I have the privilege to replace things quickly if needed). I also want to take the time to use things up and enjoy what I have. I have accumulated some collections of items that are sitting around and will go to waste.
Be sure to follow my Instagram for monthly updates of all of my “empties.”
Secondhand Gifts or Homemade Gifts
This goal will be more challenging because of time investments and because of societal perceptions. Last year I started toying with the idea of secondhand gifts. I found myself questioning why we couldn’t give secondhand gifts. Can’t we?
There is a lot of capitalist stigma surrounding this idea, but with the exception of a few specific types of items, I don’t see an argument for why something has to be new. Why is it trendy to thrift clothes but then considered “poor” or “gross” to give those same items as gifts?
There is a lot to unpack, but my goal is to do some inner work and reflection and then see how often I can gift secondhand items instead of new.
Tied in with that goal is also looking at doing more homemade gifts. I can’t commit to every hobby, but sometimes a handmade item or baked good is the best gift that means more than picking up a mass produced item.
This past Christmas, 99% of the gifts I gave were one of a kind items from small businesses. And they were the most well-received gifts I have given!
I don’t envision buying 100% from small businesses. The gift recipient may want something that cannot be bought from a small business. Or, it may make more sense to buy something from a more main stream store. Being a semi-crunchy glittery hippie, I see both having a place in my life.
But, I want to continue to buy the greatest amount of items from small businesses as possible. You can read my post about supporting small businesses to see all the reasons why this is beneficial.
Homemade birthday cards
Between secondhand gifts, homemade items, and unique finds from small businesses my goal is to give more intentional gifts that reflect the spirit of the recipient. This intention also has an added bonus for the environment and helps me to be more purposeful in my day to day.
Making homemade birthday cards is something I have done on a few occasions and I really love it. It is an opportunity to up cycle magazines and packages. And it is a way to more personally acknowledge someone’s special day.
Woven throughout all of my goals is the theme of intentionality. I cannot stop the speed at which life moves. I cannot eliminate all of the activities and commitments that occur throughout my day.
But I tend to focus in hyper-drive, worrying about tackling the next 5 things on my list and barely acknowledging what I am working on at present. There are many reasons why I am like this, but I know that I don’t want to look back at my days barely remembering what happened.
My goal of being more intentional doesn’t mean I won’t still be busy. It doesn’t mean that I still won’t be stressed at times. But being more intentional means that I will:
1) Think more of my future self by doing tasks at hand, freeing up more time, 2) pause before each moment and decide what is really important to me, and to make more effort on the things I care about, 3) being purposeful in deciding what physical items and what energies enter my life, 4) making decision that align with who I am and what is important to me, and leaving that which does not serve me at the door.
This is something that is not always easy. How many of you forget to text someone back or realize you haven’t called a friend in 6 months? How many of you live with your partners and by the end of the week you can’t remember any conversations beyond asking what to make for dinner?
I often put off reaching out to people or responding to people because of the headspace that I am in in that exact moment. But while I believe it is important to protect ourselves, the error is not following up once we are in a better head space.
I do want to put the caveat out there that this looks different for each person, and your inability to respond does not make you a bad person and changing that may not be a goal that makes sense for you.
For me personally, my goal is to respond in the moment. To make an effort to reach out more, to keep my life more open.
Engaging in Hobbies
I have hobbies. But I don’t carve out a lot of time for them. I may have the excuse of being a new mom, which definitely dictates the majority of my time, but it is important that I do things for myself as well.
I of course have this blog and community, but beyond that I want to make time for other activities that I enjoy. My friend and I are crocheting a temperature blanket throughout the year. I also want to set a goal to crochet one new toy each month for my daughter, R.
I love baking and want to have another goal to bake at least one thing each month.
And lastly, I want to re-incorporate reading into my nighttime routine.
I am keeping the time frames fluid, because I know my time is not my own and can be very unpredictable. But I am setting myself up for success with realistic time frames do reach my goals.
Preparing to Enter 2023
My goals for leading a more sustainable life are an ongoing journey. My goal by the end of 2023 is not to have mastered any of these goals. Instead, it is to keep working on the best version of myself as possible. My goals are designed to better the environment, help me to be more present to my family, friends, and myself. My goal is to enjoy life and eliminate self-induced stress, negative energy, and non valuable uses of my time.
Here is to 2023 and our Sustainability!