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Ethical & Sustainable New Year's Resolutions for 2022

Polly Polly 21 Dec 2021 Ethical & Sustainable New Year's Resolutions for 2022

The last days of 2021 are here – and this might be the ideal moment to take your time and reflect on what this year meant to you. And of course, also meditate about what you expect and hope for in 2022. New year – new me, right?

Well, New Year's resolutions usually revolve around exercising and quitting unhealthy habits. That’s wonderful of course – and we are cheering for you! But what would you say about making it a bit more special this time? Are you ready for 2022 – the year in which we aim to live more sustainably and make more ethical decisions? We’re talking New Year’s revolutions here!

This article lists 30+ ethical and sustainable New Year's resolution ideas worthy of your 2022 New Year's resolutions list. But don't get overwhelmed – just pick a few that resonate with you!

We promise that it won't only be Mama Earth enjoying the perks of these adjustments. A more conscious lifestyle can take some worries off of your shoulders (it will save you some money, for instance) and make your life more simple and happier. Doesn’t that sound like a pretty awesome goal for 2022?
 

In this article:

Sustainable New Year's resolutions: Slow fashion in your wardrobe

Changing your (fashion) shopping habits can have a great impact on our planet and its inhabitants. Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of all humanity's carbon emissions?1

This is more than the amount produced by all international flights and maritime shipping combined! (If you need a minute to wrap your head around that – we get you.)
 


So, it would be amazing to leave your support for fast fashion brands in 2021 and go for the equally stylish but more sustainable and fair alternative. How? For instance, you could:

  • Repair, don't throw away. Make yourself the promise that each time your clothes get damaged, you'll first try to repair them before throwing them away. Online tutorials might be your new best friend – or you could find a clothing repair near you.
  • Set a limit on how many pieces of clothing you can buy. This can be per month or even the whole year. Not only can you avoid impulsive purchases, but you can also give your to-shop list more thought and ensure that you will truly make a good and long-lasting purchase.
  • Decide on the number of days you will wait before making a purchase. Again, this will give you more time to think it through. Yes to being more mindful in 2022!
  • Commit to #30wearschallenge. Wear every piece of clothing you purchase at least 30 times and before each purchase, ask yourself: 'Will I actually wear this at least 30 times?' This may not sound like a lot, but perhaps you’ll be surprised. This can also change your mindset about the price of an item and you can start using the cost-per-wear technique.
  • Say goodbye to fast fashion. Promise yourself that when you need to buy something new, you'll only support ethical and more sustainable fashion brands.
  • Opt for pre-loved clothes. When you want to buy something 'new', go and experience treasure hunting in thrift stores or second-hand stores.

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A meme of a model with a very funky sweater that reads 'Moms be like wear the sweater grandma made'.

Stylish & made of vegan wool! Thanks, gran!
 

  • Rent your clothes. Whenever you need an outfit for a special occasion, you can rent the clothes instead of buying a brand new outfit that you'd wear only once.
  • Try a shopping fast for a month. Simply no fashion purchase for a month. Challenge accepted? It might be a bit tricky at first, but also truly satisfying. You might learn how to be creative with your style and clothes and realise that you already have everything you need (or even way more than that).
  • Unsubscribe from fast fashion newsletters. You won't feel the constant need to spend your money on every silly trend, because you won’t get tempted every time you open your inbox. (Did you know that our digital activity – because it requires servers, computers and routers to run and these gigantic data centres consume huge amounts of electricity and water – leaves some carbon footprint behind? So you’ll also save some CO2 emissions, too!4
  • Shop in your own wardrobe. Dare yourself to discover new combinations of clothes you already own. This way, your older clothes can still excite you!

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A meme from The Devil Wears Prada (2006) that reads 'Are you wearing the...same outfit as yesterday? Yeh, I am'.

It's trendy, trust us. (The Devil Wears Prada, 2006)

  • Organise a clothing swap with your friends. Or attend one organised by someone else. It’s fun, sustainable and brings you loads of new options!
  • Start a capsule wardrobe. By having a small collection of clothes that you love to wear and are easily combined, the need to shop every month will disappear.
  • Wash your clothes only when absolutely necessary. And only when your washing machine is completely full. Sometimes, simply hanging the garment on a coat hanger outside for a day, will do all the freshening up it needs. Try turning your laundry a bit colder, stay away from aggressive detergents or fabric softeners, and instead of using a dryer, let your laundry air dry.
     

Kim van Langelaar, co-founder of Shop Like You Give a Damn:

While I’ve got tips 1 to 5 and others down by now, and not having shopped in my life very much at all – I am a minimalist at heart – I have very little experience with buying second-hand clothes at a thrift store for instance. I do wear clothes that my mother (and even father!) used to wear, either 20-30 years ago or very recent stuff my mum doesn’t fit in anymore (score!). And I did buy something off a teammate once, for whom a fabulous shirt was too big – I rock it now, thanks, Sonja ??. But that’s really it. But these items just came my way, I didn’t have to go searching for them in a huge store.

The thought of swap parties terrifies me, but I would love for 2022 to be the year where I finally visit one – if the pandemic allows it. Especially renting an outfit at Amsterdam’s Lena Library, for instance, fascinates me. When I have a little bit more time on my hands, I’d like to dedicate some mindspace to experiencing how that works.

In the meantime, we're working on some pre-loved plans of our own...

New Year's resolutions for eating more sustainably and ethically

Your environmental resolutions could also focus on the food you put on your plate. Did you know that...

“A vegan diet is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on our planet?"2

So, make sure that your sustainable resolutions for 2022 have the greatest impact possible! How to ease into a plant-based diet?

  • Incorporate more plant-based food into your daily diet. You could start off by having only vegan breakfasts (and maybe even become a Part-Time Climate Warrior), only vegan lunches or dinners. Or by having vegan Mondays and Wednesdays, for instance.
  • Eat plant-based except for that one thing. If you tell yourself “Oh, I would love to go vegan, but I can't live without cheese”, then simply cut out all animal-based foods except for cheese for now. See how that feels, educate yourself further while you’re changing your lifestyle accordingly and eventually you’ll find a way to enjoy yummy, healthy food that is better for the planet, the animals and yourself too.
  • Eat plant-based at home. If the thing that is holding you back is eating out with friends or at your grandma's, simply eat plant-based food at home, but not necessarily elsewhere.
  • Say goodbye to all animal products. You can also go vegan straight away. The Veganuary challenge is a great way to start. It’s a yearly challenge, started by a British non-profit, inspiring people all over the world to go vegan.

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Gossip Girl Meme: Blair tells Chuck 'Three words, eight letters, say it and I'm yours. Chuck says 'I am vegan'.

Can't find us? We’re busy dating vegans in 2022.
 

  • Eat local and seasonal. Checking where your food comes from and doing a bit of googling to find out which veggies and fruits are in season can also help to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Prevent food waste. Learning about the correct way to store your food, organising your fridge so you see which products need to find their way to your tummy first, not buying fresh products in huge amounts or cooking from leftovers at the end of the week can all help you to avoid wasting food.

In the wise words of author and animal rights activist Colleen Patrick Goudreau:

“Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything."

Take it slowly and on your own terms, like with the example of cheese. At least do what you’re able and willing to do at this very moment. But to not do anything at all, just because you think you have to do everything right immediately, would be a waste. “It’s the ultimate example of self-sabotage.”

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A cow looking inside through a window saying 'That better be fucking Oatly.'.

'Wake up, it's time for vegan breakfast, remember?'

Why do Veganuary in 2022?

A great start to a vegan New Year is doing the Veganuary challenge. Trying a vegan diet cannot get any easier – you will get delicious recipes, easy meal plans and helpful tips for this transformation. During the 2021 campaign, more than 580.000 people took their pledge to try a vegan diet.

This challenge only takes 31 days and by the end of it, you will know how to cook delicious and easy vegan meals and how to properly eat a balanced vegan diet.

Not only that, in those 31 days you’ll save around 125 litres of water, 543 kg of grain, 84 m2 of forest, 273 kg of CO2 emissions... and 30 animals!3

Tip: Try Veganuary (in English) or the Vegan Challenge (in Dutch)
 

New Year's resolutions for a more sustainable lifestyle in 2022

There are quite a few more things you could add to your New Year's resolutions:

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A meme from Toy Story (1995) that reads 'Sustainability: without it, there's no future.

Let's make it to 2023, shall we? (Toy Story, 1995)

  • Minimise your waste when grocery shopping. Try to do your groceries packaging-free and bring your own bags and jars. Our reusable and washable food bags might help. Or at least try to find alternative options for those heavily cardboard- and plastic-wrapped goods.
  • Recycle your waste. It might be that you are already separating your paper, plastic and glass waste. If not, this is your sign!
     

Anna Krijger, editor at Shop Like You Give a Damn:

My New Year’s Resolution is to limit my waste as much as possible. It was only recently that I realised I was buying waste every time I went to the supermarket, in the form of packing material. All the jars, cartons and bottles we buy only to throw away the minute we finish the product – that suddenly seemed illogical to me.

For example, when you buy a cleaning detergent, you also buy a lot of water and a single-use plastic bottle. Now I use Ecopods: tablets that you can dissolve in water, coming with aluminium bottles that can be reused time and again. My goal for 2022 is to find more sustainable life hacks like this and reduce my ecological footprint more.

 

It will be so much easier to stick to a more sustainable lifestyle once you know all your facts. You might want to watch:

  • The True Cost. A documentary that reveals the harsh truth about the fast fashion industry.
  • Cowspiracy. A documentary about the environmental impact of the food we eat.
  • Carnage: Swallowing the Past. A mockumentary set in 2067, when the U.K. is vegan and future generations are learning about their carnivorous past.
  • A Life On Our Planet. A documentary by David Attenborough on climate change.
  • Earthlings. A graphic documentary about the ways we exploit animals for food, clothing or entertainment.

Resolutions to do good, give back and be active in 2022

The year 2021 has taught us many lessons, one of which is that every individual matters and every ounce of positive change you can bring to this world matters too. In 2022, you might feel the urge to help the cause you believe in and feel so passionate about.

  • Join an organisation as a volunteer. Find an existing social, environmental or animal rights organisation and dedicate your time to a good cause you believe in. Working with like-minded people who are driven by the same passion, knowing that together you are contributing to a better, sustainable and compassionate world is wonderful and so worth it. (Trust us, we know ??)
  • Start your own initiative. If you can't find an organisation that resonates with you, it might be your chance to start something from scratch.
  • Donate your money to a good cause. You could send a one-time donation or place a standing order for a monthly donation. A tip: find out what effective animal charity you want to support by using the Animal Charity Evaluator.
  • Sign petitions. Promise yourself that when you see an important petition worthy of your signature, you will actually sign it.
  • Join protests. To keep yourself in the loop, make sure to follow organisations that organise protests for important causes.
  • Become an activist also online. Ask (fast) fashion brands #WhoMadeMyClothes, demand them to #PayUp, call out greenwashing and more.
  • Start your letter writing activism. Writing letters is a powerful tool, so don't forget to use it in 2022. You can write to fast fashion companies, other unethical and unsustainable corporations or even politicians.

“I can’t do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.” – author Jana Stanfield
 

Polly Drábová, content & research marketeer at Shop Like You Give a Damn:

In the last couple of years, I was a volunteer in many organisations, but for 2022 I choose to do good differently. Each month, I will donate some money to four non-profits whose missions are very close to my heart: Humánny pokrok (an animal rights organisation based in Slovakia), Vagus (helping unhoused people), Amnesty International (a human rights organisation) and #EveryIndividualMatters (helping both humans and animals financially).

Also, I would like to write one letter every month and send it to unethical companies, as well as become more active in online spaces with campaigns like #WhoMadeMyClothes. So, my goal for 2022 is to support organisations (and their campaigns) that are doing essential work and fighting for a better world – for every being.


Hold on – you just read through plenty of New Year's Resolution suggestions. Maybe, you feel inspired and excited for the new year (and new you) to come. Or maybe you are a bit sceptical about whether you can actually keep them. In that case…

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A meme of grumpy cat that reads 'New year, new me'.

Hold your horses, Grumpy Cat, we have tips for you!

What is the key to successful New Year's resolutions?

The key to any New Year's sustainable resolution is to make them realistic and specific. What does it mean exactly?

Be real with yourself and only set achievable goals. For instance, you probably won't be able to 'wear only sustainable clothes' when your wardrobe is still full of clothes you bought from fast fashion brands in the past. And that is completely okay.

Simply being committed to not contributing to the fast fashion industry anymore, and only buying (or even better, swapping, renting and thrifting) ethical and sustainable clothes from now on, while still wearing and making use of the clothes you already own, is probably the most environmentally-friendly and ethical approach you can take.

Another tip is: make your resolutions more specific and set measurable goals. This will increase your chances of actually achieving them.

For instance, 'I will eat vegan food six days a week' is more concrete than 'I will eat more vegan food'. Or, 'I will buy only 10 pieces of new clothing this year' is more specific, and therefore, more effective than just 'I will shop less'.

It also helps to describe concrete situations – make use of the four Ws: when, where, what and why. 'Every other week (when), I will only eat plant-based dinners (what) at home and in restaurants (where) because I want to reduce the carbon footprint of my diet (why).

If you want to take it a bit further, you can always brainstorm about what you would do in situations when you face some challenges. What if, in your plant-based week, your colleagues invite you to a restaurant with no plant-based options? “In this case, I will…” and that part is up to you!

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A meme of Barney from How I Met Your Mother that reads 'My New Year's Resolution? Be Awesome. Check'.

‘Being awesome in 2022’? 'Nope, you already are!


So, did you end up with a list full of ethical and sustainable New Year's resolutions? If so, we are happy to see that our ideas were useful.

But we couldn't end the year 2021 without acknowledging your awesomeness. Thank you for getting ready to make the world a better place in 2022!

And of course, Happy (Ethical & Sustainable) New Year!