How to be More Sustainable in Daily Life: 5 Simple and Sustainable New Year's Resolutions
Whether you love setting new year’s resolutions or you quit years ago, being sustainable and striving to treat the planet well is incredibly important.
You don’t have to have a long list of things you want to do to make the world a better place; simply shifting your actions in an area or two can help you build life habits that will make the world around you a little bit better.
This Journal will help you understand why sustainability is so important and offer five simple things you can do to live a more sustainable life.
Keep reading to find out why you should still resolve to live more sustainably this year.
Table of Contents
Should I Make a New Year's Resolution?
What are the Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Sustainability?
How Swahlee Helps You Achieve Your Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions
Should I Make a New Year's Resolution?
Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of the holidays or the bright promise of a brand-new year that leaves people feeling pensive and reflective each December. Whatever the reason, many people begin the new year with a shiny new list of things they want to do, change, see, accomplish, or quit.
But, for many people, within just a few short weeks — or days — the list is left in some forgotten corner and all the resolutions fall away under the weight of the pressures and stressors the new year brings. This rollercoaster of ambition leaves many people wondering: “Should I even make a new year’s resolution? Am I destined to fail before I start?”
But this acceptance of lost goals raises a question: why do people stop prioritizing their resolutions each year? According to one source:
- 35% lose motivation
- 19% find that they are too busy
- 18% experience a shift in goals or motivation
- 28% have other personal reasons
Even with the widespread “quitting ratio,” setting goals, resolutions, and intentions for the new year is a great way to ensure that you are always growing and progressing.
Pick goals that motivate you and that are tied to something you feel passionate about.
Take an honest look at your life and what you expect it to be like in the coming year. Then, set goals that work with the schedule you believe you will have.
Make sure your resolutions are clear and attainable. Instead of setting the resolution of “making better clothing decisions” decide that you will shop at sustainable stores and thrift stores as your first choice.
By setting smaller, more specific, and attainable goals, you are setting yourself up to succeed. This is why we love setting resolutions for sustainability. There are so many small, doable daily actions you can take to live a more sustainable lifestyle without having to move into the forest and live off of foraged berries or make some other drastic life change.
At Swahlee, we believe that sustainability is in the details and small, everyday choices which is why we have compiled a list of our top five realistic sustainability resolutions.
What Are the Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Sustainability?
Your sustainability goals don’t have to be huge and scary. The simple, day-to-day actions you consistently take to make the world a cleaner, better place have a much greater effect than large, sporadic activities.
You can make a huge impact by doing simple things. Here are our top five sustainable new year's resolutions:
- Reuse what you can
- Shop sustainable and ethical companies
- Avoid fast fashion
- Know your supply chains
- Shop small businesses and local shops
1. Reuse What You Can
Especially in the West, we live in a “throw-away culture” meaning that disposable products have become the norm, rather than the exception. Whether it be good packaging or a dress with a small hole in it, we are often more tempted to throw it away and get something new than we are to find a way to reuse or repair it.
Before you throw things away, ask yourself if they could serve another purpose.
- The plastic bags you had to use at Wal-Mart when you forgot your reusable bags last week? Upcycle them into trash bags for your small waste bins.
- The plastic containers from last night’s Chinese takeout are perfect for storing leftovers in your refrigerator.
- Instead of throwing out that shirt that has a small tear along the bottom seam, try pulling out your sewing kit and mending it.
- Swap some disposable products for reusable or higher-quality ones with longer lifespans.
- Purchase a glass soap dispenser and refill it with an eco-friendly brand.
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it instead of purchasing plastic water bottles.
- Instead of purchasing dollar razors that can be used only once before they hit the trash, try purchasing one with longer-lasting blades and a reusable handle.
We noticed early on that our workshop naturally produces scrap material. In most cases, leftover materials end up in landfills but that simply doesn’t fit with our sustainability values. So we launched the Remnants Collection, an entire line of products made from smaller pieces of fabric that would otherwise end up unused in a landfill.
One of our favorite Remnants Collection products is our Zero Waste Cotton Makeup Rounds, designed to replace your single-use cotton facial pads. Not only are these washable and reusable — meaning you’re no longer throwing away countless cotton rounds each year — but they’re also made out of high-quality cotton fabric that won’t irritate your skin or add unnecessary chemicals to your skincare routine.
2. Shop Sustainable and Ethical
The most sustainable item to use or garment to wear is one you already have. The second most sustainable option is one you purchase from a sustainable, ethical company or find second-hand.
Get to know your favorite stores and companies and find out how they are impacting the environment and what their ethical practices look like. As a consumer, you deserve to know whether or not your purchase is contributing to the mistreatment of people or the planet.
According to Bloomberg, of the 300 million tons of plastic produced annually across the globe, the fashion industry accounts for one-fifth. Not only that, but 35% of the micro-plastics in the world’s oceans trace back to fashion factories.
The environmental impact of big fashion is devastating but the ethical impact is even worse. On April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza, a commercial building in Bangladesh, collapsed. Rana Plaza housed shops, apartments, a bank, and several fashion factories. People who worked and lived in the building noticed and reported cracks in the building that made it clear that Rana Plaza was not a safe place for people to be. The shops and bank closed immediately after the cracks were found.
However, the garment workers in the factories were ordered to return to work and were not permitted to leave or stay away until safety could be assured. On that morning in late April, the factory workers all went to work, fully aware their factory was unsafe and their lives were extremely at risk. Around nine AM, the building collapsed with thousands of people, including over 3,000 garment workers, inside.
When the search and rescue teams finally finished, the death toll sat at 1,134 with over 2,500 injured and countless more mourning the loss of loved ones and friends.
The owners of the factories knew it was unsafe. The building was never meant to support the heavy machinery or the movement and vibrations they caused. But that didn’t stop them from forcing their employees to remain in unsafe conditions. It is even reported that the workers were threatened with the loss of an entire month's salary if they didn’t appear for work. For the marginalized workers, the loss of that much could mean many awful things including homelessness, starvation, lack of education for their children, and much more. They didn’t have a choice.
Unfortunately, this blatant disregard for the lives of garment workers is far from fringe. The fast fashion empire is built on the backs of exploited and abused people who have no other means of income. Clothing factories are filled to the brim with garment workers, mostly women, who:
- Are paid very little
- Spend their days exposed to harsh chemicals
- Work inhumane hours
- Are often verbally, physically, and sexually abused and harassed
- Are not given needed breaks for things like meals or using the facilities
These are only a few of the horrible conditions that many garment workers face. As a consumer, your purchase carries so much weight. By choosing to purchase only ethically-produced clothing, you are telling fast fashion companies that you refuse to support what they are doing and that you do not want fashion at the expense of someone’s dignity.
Thankfully, there are clothing companies that are fighting to end exploitation and fashion pollution by being conscious of their carbon footprint and treating their employees with kindness, dignity, and respect.
At Swahlee, we believe that caring for the planet is our duty and that treating people fairly is non-negotiable. We use only natural fabrics that don’t generate microplastics and break down easily once their life cycle is finished. We pay all of our employees fairly. Our factory is small, sustainable, safe, and clean. We break as a company for tea every morning and lunch every afternoon. Employees are free to use the facilities whenever they need. They receive benefits and generous leave time. Every Swahlee piece is crafted by a woman who has received fair compensation for her labor and skill and who was treated with kindness and dignity.
While unethical fashion and production is a massive and growing issue, the ethical, sustainable sector is also growing. Today, you can find almost any style of clothing and many other goods that have been crafted in ethical, sustainable conditions.
As you take steps to be more sustainable this new year, find companies that hold your values and use your dollars and votes for freedom and sustainability in the fashion industry.
3. Avoid Fast Fashion
You have a friend's birthday party on Friday and a brunch scheduled for Saturday but you aren’t sure what to wear. With the rise of fast, cheap fashion, you might be tempted to run out and purchase a new outfit or two. You could get a cute top for brunch for $20 or a great cocktail dress for the party for $30.
But what happens next week after you’ve worn your new pieces? If you’re like many Americans, those brand-new garments end up in the back of your closet, and may only be worn once or twice again. This phenomenon, known as the “Cinderella Syndrome” of fashion, has led to the disturbing reality that on average, a garment is worn only seven times before being discarded.
Fast fashion’s trademark is cheap, low-quality styles that are constantly shifting. Instead of supporting companies that damage the planet with throw-away fashion and usually contract with unethical factories, invest in a few high-quality pieces from wholesome fashion companies. These pieces are well-made, high-quality, and produced without harm to people or the environment.
By avoiding fast fashion, you become part of the solution.
4. Know Your Supply Chains
Did you know that you can ask companies where their products are made and who they are made by?
Take some time to dig into your favorite brands and find out what their supply chains look like. Are they purchasing from factories that exploit workers? Do they have good commitments to sustainability? Do they create quality pieces that will last or are they just focused on turning out new products all the time? If you can’t find the information you want on their website, email them and ask.
A company that is doing all it can to treat people right and care for the earth will be more than happy to share those details with you.
Getting familiar with supply chains is important for any product you consume. Even the smallest shift can have a massive impact.
Take the time to look into things like the:
- Food you eat
- Clothes you wear
- Personal care products you use
Find out how and where that company is sourcing its products. In some cases, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised and delighted. Other times, you might realize that other companies are creating competing goods more ethically and sustainably.
At Swahlee, we know the importance of making sure that our products are sustainable from beginning to end. We work directly with ethical fabric artisans to source our textiles and ensure that they are made well and made fair. At Swahlee, we know our supply chain is sustainable, ethical, and quality-conscious.
5. Shop Small and Shop Local
In most cases, small businesses tend to be more sustainable. Locally produced products are often more ethical.
When you shop small, you’re purchasing directly from someone whose life was positively impacted by your purchase. Online shopping has made it even easier to purchase products from artisans and small business owners.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to find some of the things you need in local shops that support local businesses and economic growth. Of course, you should still make sure that the products are ethical and sustainable.
Purchasing from local shops and small businesses, especially ones that create their own product, is a great way to invest in your local economy while advocating for ethical and sustainable practices.
How Swahlee Helps You Achieve Your Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions
At Swahlee, sustainability and ethicality are more than just words. They’re rules. When you shop with us, you can rest assured that your garment was made in the most ethical and environmentally friendly way possible.
As a slow fashion workshop, each piece we produce is high-quality and low-impact. We source only natural fabrics such as:
- Handloom cotton
- Peace silk
We source from fait trade suppliers to ensure that everyone involved is treated with respect and dignity. We work with vendors that value sustainability and are taking their own steps to lessen waste and pollution.
In our workshop, we are conscious of how much water and electricity we use. We analyze the best way to cut fabric to minimize scraps. We produce in small batches to ensure that we are not over-producing.
Every Swahlee piece purchased equates to safe, fair, kind employment for a woman in North East India who faces barriers to obtaining a good, safe job. Swahlee garments are never fashioned at the expense of someone's safety, dignity, or well-being.
When you shop Swahlee, you can feel good about your purchase, knowing that you are part of the solution to the global crisis of unsustainable, unethical fashion.