By Conal Morrison

Sigh! 2021 was yet another year of trials and tribulations for all of us; the pandemic still has its claws out, and sadly the future isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Even worse, I’m still waiting on my flying car and back to the future style hoverboard! 

But as one year ends, we have the opportunity to close it and embrace the start of a new one. A whole new chapter we can write however we wish. If the pandemic has made one thing clear, it’s that maybe we won’t get as many opportunities as we would like. Our planet is sick too, and it’s up to us, the next generation, to try and heal it. 

Of course, we don’t have magic powers, and we can’t snap our fingers and heal the planet. For some of us, switching to more environmentally friendly options might even seem impossible due to a myriad of constraints such as money, time or even location. But below, I have tried my best to compile a list of resolutions for your new year that are easily accessible for anybody, anywhere. I am hoping that we can all find at least one thing to do to make a change for the better.

Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

One thing I’m sure we can all do is to make our home a little more eco friendly. Of course, how you do this is entirely up to you and understandably limited by budget and time. That’s why I’ve prepared a few options, which hopefully will cater to any requirements you may have. 

One super simple thing you can do is use more eco-friendly cleaning products around the house! Many of the well-known options have a lot of chemicals in them that are harmful to our planet. Some are toxic to marine life or can render soil unusable. According to greenmatch.co.uk, one of the easiest ways to do this is to ensure you buy cleaning products that have no synthetic ingredients in them. Try to find the ones with natural ingredients. 

If you’re an avid gardener, you can do the same thing with any pesticides and fertilisers you may use. Another thing to check is that you do not use peat as it is a natural sponge for carbon dioxide, and purchasing or using peat, encourages the digging up and destruction of swamps and bogs. A big no-no for the sake of the environment!

Travel Locally

After many months or over a year trapped inside, quarantining and enduring never-ending restrictions, we all want to get out and explore the world again. But it may be better in many ways to travel locally this year. For one, flying creates an enormous carbon footprint that simply can’t be overlooked. 

And two, many local businesses are really struggling post-pandemic. Paying them a visit and spending your money with them may be the difference between them staying open or closing forever. This is especially the case here in New Zealand, where tourism is a critical part of our economy. Travelling local is a great way to revitalise businesses. And, it allows you to discover places in your own backyard that you might never have known about.

I would highly recommend taking your next holiday somewhere nearby if you can. Maybe try camping instead of fancy hotels or check their eco-credentials before booking, as every minor adjustment we make can go a long way!

Remember That The world Doesn’t Just Belong To Us Humans

t’s important to remember that we share this planet—it doesn’t only belong to us. Covid brought out a lot of undesirable behaviour in people, and especially now it’s a brand new year, it’s an excellent time to take a step back and try to unlearn that behaviour and that feeling of entitlement and selfishness that is causing more harm than good. Let’s move into the future positively and build better lives for all of us, whether we be on two or more legs.

Travel Greener

Now, I’m not advocating that we sell our cars and cycle everywhere! I’m just suggesting that if it’s possible to bike, skateboard, walk or maybe even unicycle somewhere, then why not? It’s a “two birds with one stone” situation, right? You get some exercise in your day, which is extremely beneficial both physically and mentally. And, you reduce your carbon footprint! What’s not to love? As a teenager, my friends and I would skateboard everywhere across my hometown and let me tell you, I’ve never been fitter or saved so much on fuel!

So there you have it, folks, admittedly, it is a rather short list, but I think there’s something in it for everyone. Remember, it may not feel like you’re doing much alone, especially when everywhere you turn these days, traffic jams or industrial zones are spewing thick clouds of who knows what into the air. But together, we can make a change. Together our actions can make a difference. 

So spread the word and help your friends and family reduce their carbon footprints too. Maybe you and a friend or coworker live close by and can cycle together to work or school. Or perhaps you can take a journey through your local forest on foot instead of trekking through a faraway rainforest. 

Whatever you choose to do, I hope 2022 brings new and vibrant energy into your life!