By Alice Healy, Second Year English Literature and History.
As always, the New Year brings expectations of a new start. Time to get organised! Time to make the most of that expensive membership! Time to fulfil deadlines! The list goes on.
Whether we partake in the tradition of resolutions or not, it’s easy to get drawn into the appeal of self-improvement. Yet, in the midst of these individual promises, we should perhaps make a collective resolution: making our New Year a greener, more compassionate and more ethical one.
In overwhelming situations such as the climate crisis, it is often difficult to acknowledge the amount of work that needs to be done. However, we can start small and build up momentum. Tackling environmental destruction does not require drastic change on a day-to-day level, rather simple yet sustained alterations to our routines. So, what can we do?
Recent studies have shown the importance of either reducing or completely avoiding animal products in our diet due to their negative environmental impact. *
While this doesn’t mean everyone has to go vegan overnight (cue a collective cheer), it does mean that significantly reducing animal products in our diets should be an important social change in the coming years.
Avoiding unsustainably sourced palm oil is another desirable goal; while this may sometimes be difficult given the prominence of palm oil in almost everything (even shampoo), we can increase consumer pressure on companies to find sustainable alternatives.
We all know that aeroplane travel is highly detrimental to the environment and can take our annual carbon footprint up to a staggering level. As Greta Thunberg highlighted by sailing across the Atlantic, flying is one of the worst acts for your carbon footprint.
Of course, not everyone can give up flying, particularly those who work or study abroad. Even those of us who could choose not to fly are normally unwilling to give up the full travel experience; after all, without a plane, oceans are not the easiest thing to cross.
So, we should opt for alternative travel whenever possible and consider holidaying closer to home, but if we cannot subdue those feelings of wanderlust, considering carbon offsetting may be a good last resort.
Fast fashion is a destructive, polluting industry. Whilst consistent purchasing of poorly-made, ‘fashionable’ yet cheap clothing gives us a fleeting release of dopamine, it funds the poor treatment of workers and environmental destruction because many fast fashion retailers release toxic dyes into rivers near manufacturing sites.
Rather than buying new clothing, shopping second-hand in charity shops, vintage shops, or online (eBay, Depop etc.) is not only cheaper, but is also a fun way to develop personal style. Reducing the amount that you buy from fast fashion retailers supports a demand for more ethical clothing, causes a reduction in your carbon emissions and is also cheaper. Win, win, win!
Though there are obviously many more changes you can implement in order to go into the New Year greener and more ethical than ever, the most important thing for all of us is education. Educate yourself, educate your peers, educate your family. With this comes an abounding power to make change, both individually and collectively. And, whilst we must do what we can to induce environmental change on a personal level, we must pressure politicians and companies to strive for a cleaner and greener world, just as we are.