Beginnings are exciting. And this one's a new decade we are looking at. A blank new canvas waiting for our brushstrokes--2020 with its big wins and blunders. Our brave new world driven by data and AI is more diverse, more outspoken, more aware and more advanced than ever before. Also one that is at the cusp of a climate crisis, and drowning in plastic waste. So what are you bringing into this new year? Here are some new year’s resolution ideas that drive us.
Adopt a zero-waste lifestyle
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and even if you’ve been living under one), you’d know of the climate crisis. The coldest-in-a-century winters and hottest-ever summers, the Amazon forest fire and Australian bush fires, polar ice caps and glacial melts, rivers running dry and the crop damage. Climate change is not merely for the governments to address. It will affect how we live, breathe and even what we eat. How can you make a difference? Begin 2020 with the resolution by minimizing your needs.
Elevate zero waste from a hashtag into a habit, in everything you do. First, ask yourself why you want to make this switch. What bothers you the most? The plastic around you, the single-use coffee mug you just bought off Starbucks, or the use-and-throw straw or pen or toothbrush you use? Food waste? (One-third of food produced globally is wasted) The pile of clothes in your wardrobe? (Cheap clothes come at a high environmental cost). The litter on the beach or the trekking trails you visit? You have reason to worry. Approximately 8.8 tonnes of plastic waste enters the oceans every year, and tonnes more ends up in landfills. Plastic pollution afflicts land, waterways and oceans and scientists estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean, than marine life. And this is only plastic. Zero waste living will demand some changes, to reduce buying all kinds of products—fewer stuff including clothes, gadgets—sustainable travel, reuse and recycle more, reducing the urge to order in because you can, using planet-friendly transport such as bicycles and walking. And we’ve just about getting started.
2019 has been a year of protests—from Hong Kong to Yemen to Iran to Lebanon to India. Protest songs rent the air as people joined forces to save forests, their freedom and civil liberties, their constitution, and the climate. Voices of children ricocheted through corridors of power, and the soft-spoken Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg spoke louder than global superpowers. From climate advocacy to gay parades, this is the decade to take the fight ahead, to show up and stand up for the right thing.
Get on a
You are what you read, watch, listen to and experience. And not just on Netflix or Spotify. To grow, become an interesting person and a global citizen with a perspective and passion, we must expand our creative scope. Make it your new year goal. How? By inculcating a cultural diet into your lifestyle, says Bruce Guthrie, head of theatre and film at National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai. “Every week, watch a film in a new language, listen to music you’ve not explored before—listen to the whole album because in that you will understand the artist’s idea of curating it, go see art shows, watch theatre,” says Guthrie who coined the term Cultural Diet as a methodical approach to consuming arts and culture. Science backs this as it has shown that improved learning and creativity leads to increased tolerance and quality of life. Culture enhances the opportunities to come together as a community and increases overall well-being.
Start CompostingWaste management has become one of the biggest global problems. Most of the organic waste in the
landfill comes from our homes. In India, the organic component of the waste we
generate is between 40 to 60% of total solid waste. The bad news is that this organic
waste often ends up in landfills, where it undergoes anaerobic decomposition to
create methane and carbon dioxide, both greenhouse gases that are contributing
to global warming. The good news is that you can reduce this load by composting
the organic waste you generate in your homes and offices as a new year resolution.
Composting involves breaking down of the organic waste—kitchen waste, leaves and flowers from your garden, among others. Once this is decomposed, compost can be used as an organic fertilizer as it improves soil health. Or simply throw it under a tree in your neighbourhood, and watch it blossom.
Check out the numerous composting options available online. From waste bins that help you compost without much input (or a stink) to products such as the
terracotta Khamba by Daily Dump (dailydump.org), there are options for beginners and pros, for homes and apartment complexes. Go on, take charge of the garbage you create!
Make Mental Health your Priority This decade has been path-breaking for mental health professionals and activists. While we lost great actors like Robin Williams to depression-related suicide, and the more recent death of TV actor Kushal Punjabi shook the fraternity, others like Deepika Padukone spoke up about suffering from depression, and overcoming it, making the issue of mental health mainstream. In the last decade, mental health programmes have ensured more people recognised their conditions and sought help. It's time to drop the stigma around speaking out and helping oneself and friends and family members dealing with mental health issues. Prioritise your mental health and emotional well-being, just as much as your physical health and fitness.
While Social Media has democratised news, it has also contributed to the dissemination of unfiltered and fake content through messenger services and social handles. Not everything you read is the truth, so base your belief systems on truth and spend time in seeking the truth. The last decade has witnessed violence, rioting, lynching and murders due to fake news, and most sane people are left wondering what and who to believe. But you can find a way out of this in 2020.
Bust Fake News
Several mainstream news media such as Quint's Webqoof and AltNews.in are dedicated to fact-checking. Use them, send your queries to them if you come across something suspicious and inciteful. Read a variety of publications, ask questions, seek answers. Be a responsible citizen journalist and social media user. And when you find something is fake, tell everyone you know.
Power up on Plant-Based
You know that a plant-based diet is healthier for you. But did you consider that changing your diet can combat climate change? A plant-based diet involves cutting down on animal produce, sugars, refined grain and switching to whole grains, millets and cereals, nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables. This diet reduces your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and even some cancers.
Growing fruit and vegetables doesn't involve as much greenhouse gas as raising cattle, say scientific studies. Dietary changes towards healthier diets can reduce the environmental impacts of food systems,
says a study published in Nature magazine . When environmentally-intensive foods, such as animal products, are replaced by less intensive food types, the dietary changes could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts by 29% and 5 to 9% respectively (for healthy diets comprising a lower amount of meat) and by 56% and 6-22% for a plant-based scenario. The changes are in line with the composition and environmental footprint of each food group. What do you want the planet to score?