Another year over, and a new one just begun. Happy New Year and may it be a wonderful one!
As 2015 begins, but before it starts to speed away, many of us will be taking a moment to look back. A brief chance to take stock of the past and with this in mind, plan changes for the future.
Many of us will be casting our resolutions.
But this year, going into the countdown to some major hurdles for the human race and the planet - including the framing of the new post-2015 Millennium Development Goal replacements and the major Paris meeting on Climate Change - can our resolutions be more than just about ourselves?
Here are 6 New Year’s Resolutions for your body - but also for your planet.
1. Walk more, drive less
It’s not always easy and I appreciate how nice it is to take the car on those cold mornings, or a steaming hot afternoon. But leaving the car and walking not only cuts your climate emissions (cars make up about 7.5% of Australia’s emisions) but is also great for your heart, your brain and your mind. Exercise, even walking, is protective against heart disease, dementia and helps to reduce stress.
Even driving partway and walking the last few miles! Dropping the car is a great step forward, and a healthy option for you and your surrounds.
2. Eat less meat, eat better quality
It might surprise you, but 30% of Global Greenhouse Gasses come from what we eat - from food production. And a vast amount of this is generated by a small portion of our plate: meat. In fact, beef and lamb are by far the worst at soiling the global and local environments. Each kilogram uses 15,500 litres of water to produce and creates 30-40 kg of carbon dioxide (the same as driving 60-90 miles). Grazing occupies 26% of the earth’s ice-free land, and feed crop production uses about one third of all arable areas.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Eating less, for example being a vegetarian during the week and leaving meat for weekends; eating better quality, keeping beef for very special occasions and wherever possible, sourcing it carefully to ensure the animals and the planet are taken care of - is a great start to a healthier future.
3. Buy local, buy in season, buy fresh
In 2015, take on a big challenge - reconnect with food. Take the time to learn what is in season (usually what is cheap, fresh and most tasty) and what is local. It might mean trying some new recipes or swapping things around depending on the time of year. It might also mean a week of leafy greens in summer and a fortnight of broccoli come colder months, but fresh is usually best and local means fewer carbon miles.
4. Reconsider that second drink
Now I know this one might have been a challenge on the 31st, but in the New Year it is a good time to think - or rethink - about the amount of alcohol we drink. Being sure to keep days free of drinking throughout each week and challenge our need to accompany that hard day’s end, an exciting win or a first date with an alcoholic beverage.
And with each glass of beer using up to 75 litres of water to produce, cutting back is a wise move for your liver, your cancer risk and your planet.
5. Drink tap water, lose the sweet bubbles
There are few things in this world that give us nothing and take a lot - but soft drink, or soda is one. It takes enormous amounts of energy to produce, comes wrapped in a petroleum or aluminium casing, is empty calories that sit on our waistlines and is linked with diseases like obesity and diabetes.
This year, break the habit and swap sweetened drinks for water. Going one better though, if you live in a region with great tap water as I do in Melbourne, then give away bottled water too and keep the saltzer as a sometimes treat.
Water is almost always best.
6. Practice and preach mindfulness
The final piece in your New Year’s puzzle is the one I find most challenging. Having taken care of your planet and of your body - remember to take care of your mind.
Just a few minutes of mindfulness each day resets the body, centres your focus and allows a moment to reflect. This might be a session in the garden, some yoga with friends, a walk in a local park or a quiet catch up with a close buddy. Whatever it is that rests your mind and helps you unwind.
Connecting with yourself and being mindful of what 2015 has and will bring.
Happy New Year…
As the new year dawns, this is a great opportunity to make small changes in all our lives to better our health, the health of those around us, and the health of the planet.
After all, small changes add up.
Happy New Year.
-Follow Sandro on Twitter via @SandroDemaio