The start of a new year will always feel fresh and wonderful to me. It somehow gives us a license to quietly move forward and leave behind what we need to, gives hope to try again at old challenges, and as always some optimism to pick up new challenges to grow ourselves in. A fresh start is freeing, exciting and empowering.
I know that today, the first day of 2016, plenty of you want to start the year with a resolution to do more in ethical, sustainable or conscious living. Whatever your motivation or target on that path is, Collection of Good can be a source of inspiration and support in that goal. So, why not start with some basic 101’s?
Whenever I’m asked about advice on how to start or how to keep lifestyle habits that are more socially or environmentally conscious, I talk about these three points. At the heart of each is the end goal of making this change achievable and enjoyable, and especially in lightening the burden people often place on themselves in trying to be ‘ethical’. A good friend once pointed out to me that it’s counterintuitive to become burdened by your efforts to live a life that frees people and the environment from exploitation. That was a wake-up call and completely shifted things for me, so lets work to keep your goals within reach and sourced from a happier place!
1. Be kind to yourself and be realistic; keep your focus to one area of change at a time. I opted to focus on changing my clothing consumer habits when I first began making changes, partly because my clothing purchases were the first to hit home and compelled me to take some action, but also because this felt like an area I could sink my teeth into. If I had tried to do all sorts of changes for all sorts of issues at once, I guarantee I’d have given up long ago. Choose something you’ll be motivated in and feel a sense of achievement through making realistic change. Once that’s easily sorted in your life, tackle a new area.
2. Nothing is as fun as when you do it with someone else. Find a way to keep the conversation active in your life by connecting with others on similar journeys. If you know someone who’s lifestyle choices and changes you admire, meet up more regularly with them to share knowledge and discuss challenges. If you’re not sure who’s out there, encourage a good friend to join you! If you’ve not got a friend ready to walk that path yet, stay connected online to likeminded communities in forums or through social media. I’m incredibly lucky that after more than 5 years working on this, I’ve formed a large network of friends and peers who are walking similar journeys.
3. Overall, aim to make any ethical lifestyle change a challenge with some grace. There have been times where challenging myself to live more consciously has been such fun, like the sense of achievement when finding fantastic resources or brands like the Ethical Clothing Australia Certification. I’ve also had times where challenging myself has been less then fun, like struggling to find the right thing I’m after and wasting too much time and energy on worry. Give yourself some passes for when it’s not going to work out perfectly, try to remember that there’s a lot of debate on what is ‘ethical’ in all sorts of consumer areas so just try to find what fits for you and remind yourself that it’s fantastic that you’re starting somewhere and seeking to learn as you go.
In that vein, I’ll start us all off with my first challenge for this year’s ethical journey – plastic! I’ve never really been keenly focused here, so I’m aiming to reduce the amount of plastic I use by grabbing a Frank Green reusable coffee cup as my former one got lost quite a while ago, and ensuring I always bring reusable bags when shopping to avoid plastic.
I’ve been doing this thing for over 5 years and I still haven’t made my lifestyle perfect, and I don’t think it will ever fully be. What a relief to know that it’s ok to give something a go even if it’s not perfect – perhaps that attitude can be a secondary resolution for 2016! Hopefully you can start this resolution for 2016 with a healthy mixture of optimism, joy and challenge.