One minute it’s March and the next it’s almost 2019. So, if you’re anything like me, you may be spending the better part of these last weeks of December scrambling to make your #NewYearsResolutions. While I’m a firm believer in creating quarterly objectives—that is, checking in every 3 months to regroup and plan my next goals—beginning January with a fresh plan brings in the new year with a good feeling.
But what feels even better? New Year’s resolutions that make a difference in the world. This doesn’t mean they can’t be made in addition to personal resolutions like, say, earning a promotion in 2019 or losing five pounds before summer but a helping hand is needed now more than ever. There is no better time than the present to make a change and stay woke.
Here are seven new year’s resolutions that make a difference in the world.
1. Volunteer Every Once in a While
Some people donate their time during the holidays while others donate money to their favorite charities every now and again. But why can’t volunteering be something we take part in year-round, not only when the Christmas spirit kicks in?
Non-profit organizations need volunteerism to survive and the less-fortunate surely benefit from it, but did you know volunteers have reported a boost in happiness and reduced stress? Everyone wins in the long run.
2. Check Out Minimalism
If the amount of literal stuff you own stresses you out or if you can willingly admit you have clothes in your closet with the tags still on, this new year’s resolution may be a good fit. Essentially born from true minimalists—imagine one chair in the house and only one outfit for each occasion—many people have found a balance between the bare minimum and simply owning less in an attempt to combat consumerism and the internal anguish of always needing more that accompanies it.
3. Join Meatless Monday
It’d be easy to say “go vegan,” but the trick to achieving goals is breaking them up into bite-sized chunks (pun-intended). Before giving up mac and cheese for good, you could easily make a difference in the world by simply reducing your meat intake.
Earthday.org explains that eating just one less burger a week is the same as taking your car off of the road for 320 miles. If all of the US went vegan one day in the week, it would be the equivalent of taking over 7 million cars off the road. Meatless Monday: Eco-friendly, animal-friendly, and only one day a week.
4. Try 30-Day Zero Waste
On that note, another way you can jumpstart your journey to a more earth-conscious lifestyle is trying a Zero Waste challenge. It entails sending nothing (yes, nothing!) to a landfill in a 30-day span. More drastic than simply promising to recycle, the purpose of this 30-day challenge is to open your eyes to the sheer amount of waste we create in a month.
This one takes some planning, so head here to find out more and follow someone who has successfully completed the challenge.
5. Reduce and Recycle
If your car is filled with water bottles and you still purchase plastic bags at the grocery store, this could be a simple yet remarkably helpful goal for the upcoming year. Every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans so your individual promise to use less and recycle more can make an impact. People are finally taking notice at the effect that plastic has on the ecosystem—even Starbucks has ditched the plastic straws! Now it’s your turn. Check out plastic-pollution.org for more.
6. Buy Cruelty-Free Products
From your favorite body butter to everyday mascara, the truth behind many of these products and the brands that create them has finally come to light. Animals—mice, rabbits, and other lovely, helpless critters—are used for testing cosmetics in inhumane ways. To combat this, many brands, such as Bare Minerals and Lush, have taken a stand against animal testing. You can, too. Find a list of cruelty-free brands here and pledge to only give your money to brands that care.
7. Get Political
In today’s political climate, it is really no longer acceptable to “not get involved in politics” (as I, shamefully, have said once or twice before). So, get political! That could mean voting at every election (not just the presidential), staying up-to-date and informed (shouldn’t be too hard, just hop onto Twitter nowadays), and taking part in marches you feel passionate about. If you choose this resolution, you make a promise to yourself, a promise to the country and a promise to the future generations that you will take advantage of more opportunities to make your vote count.