Friday, December 28, 2012

Easy, ethical resolutions for 2013

I'm calling these resolutions "easy" because I think they are definitely achievable without sacrificing quality of life. I am already doing several of them and want to continue them in 2013. I have blogged about some previously; I will blog about the others during 2013.

1. Donate greater than 5% of my income to humanitarian charities, as guided by The Life You Can Save.

2. Follow Michael Pollan's Food Rules. (N.B. One of the rules is to "break the rules once in a while.")

3. Purchase and eat only free-range meat, increase meat-free days to 4 per week and buy from farmers' markets as much as possible. (As per Michael Pollan's food rules, "treat meat as a flavouring or special occasion food.")

4. Continue to use the Shop Ethical! app to guide supermarket purchases (and remember to take those reusable grocery bags).

5. Have old clothes and shoes mended and re-soled, instead of throwing them away. If unable to be mended or donated, use old clothes as rags. If buying clothes (or other textiles), buy only second-hand, fair trade or ethically-made products and buy less overall. Host a Clothes Swap Party.

6. Participate in at least a couple of my own "Buy Nothing New" months.

7. Don't buy bottled water.

8. Increase the amount of regular exercise that I do. (You may wonder how this is an ethical resolution. It's probably the best thing most people can do for their physical and mental health, which increases their chance of being a productive member of society for as long as possible, and reduces present and future burden on the health system.) Sleep enough every night.

9. Get a bicycle and start cycling for transport, fun and health; continue to use public transport and walk as well.

10. Give away at least seven items per week.

11. Further reduce electricity and water consumption.

12. Successfully grow at least one plant on my balcony, preferably edible!

13. Continue blogging here at least once per fortnight and engaging with like-minded people.

What are your resolutions for 2013? Can you suggest others I can add to my list?


  1. I am intrigued by your "give away at least seven items per week" resolution. What do you mean by this? Give away old stuff? Or buy stuff to give? Can you give me examples?

    From your trying to be like-minded friend.

    1. Hi Grace. I mean giving away things I already own (mainly by donation but also giving away things to friends and family).

      With donations, I'm hoping to make it a weekly habit to drop by a charity donation bin and drop off my 7 items.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. I like reading about 'real' people getting rid of stuff and when in need of inspiration/ideas I look at these forum posts: (ATAD = a thing a day, where people list the items in their house they have got rid of each day) (>5000 posts! not that I am a Vogue reading person but got lots of good ideas from this in terms of using ebay, Freecycle, how to get rid of odd things and generally making the house nice)

      Having said all this, Elissa, if you're looking for new home for stylish arty stuff then we'll take it! Haha!

      Great list though - stealing it for ourselves...

    3. Thanks for sharing these links. I've had a quick look (umm...haven't read all 5000 posts - ironic to have that on a Vogue forum, since that magazine is all about getting you to buy stuff...clothes, accessories, makeup, cosmetic surgery). I will write updates here about some of the stuff I'm giving away.

      I have given away some of my art because I have so much of it including some duplicates. eg when people come to visit and say, I really like that, then I give it to them (which explains some of the empty spaces on the wall).

      I know you're not into blogging but please feel free to share some of your "simplifying" experiences in the comments here!

    4. I think I stumbled across that Vogue post when was doing wedding research... and I agree it is a weird place for such a thing as the rest of the forum about shopping sales, cosmetics etc...

      I am not into blogging myself but can always reply to posts!

  2. How about "minimise air travel"?

    Aviation contributes significantly to carbon dioxide emissions, is inadequately regulated, and is a growing sector. And when the carbon emissions happen up in the stratosphere, they are thought to have several times more warming effects than emissions at or near sea level. See, for example this summary.

    When I have used a carbon calculator, I have found (in years I've flown) that my carbon emissions from aviation eclipse the emissions from the rest of my life, so it's a really important aspect of behaviour to change.

    I managed to go three years without flying between early 2009 and early 2012. I lapsed this year, going to a conference in Canberra for work, and also Melbourne and Adelaide to see friends. (I did manage to go to Adelaide and Melbourne by surface transport, but flew back.) Usually I holiday more locally.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion and the links. I am a terrible one for air travel - going interstate at least a few times a year for meetings and teaching, attending conference(s) every year and overseas holidays. I offset the flights when I pay for them but as you say, it would be better to not fly at all. Between all my flying and meat eating, I have a massive carbon footprint. (Not to mention I am thinking about turning on my air-conditioning because of the heatwave.)

      I've stopped buying stuff off the internet (and supermarket) that is flown here from overseas.

  3. Come to think of it, how about "work out my carbon footprint, then act to reduce it"?

    Examples of calculators include this local one, or this government one from the UK.

    I've found carbon calculators help me put my environmentally problematic behaviours in perspective, allowing me to focus on the worst offenders (such as air travel which I covered above).

    Also, another resolution might be "offset my carbon emissions". I do this, via donating to tree planting projects in rural Australia, but in doing so I realise that my first step should be to minimise my carbon emissions in the first place. It takes years for the trees to sequester the carbon dioxide I've been responsible for emitting, so offsetting is only a distant second-best to not emitting in the first place -- not a licence to pollute as much as I want.

    I've heard people say that offsetting is terrible because it's like saying it's OK to rape someone as long as you pay a rapist not to rape someone else. I don't take such a dim view of it. I think it's better to offset than not to offset. But it's also much better not to emit in the first place.

  4. I am inspired Elissa by your ethical resolutions for the new year!

    I too want to try a Buy Nothing New month. I think I buy too many little unnecessary things, clothes and shoes. This year I want to make and mend more of my own clothes. Another goal is to grow my own herbs. I currently have only successfully grown parsley - I had no luck growing rocket and coriander, but I am determined this year to grow some healthy crops of these herbs as I use them about every week in my cooking.

    Small changes can make a difference. :-)

    1. Thanks for your comment! Let me know if you want to do a Buy Nothing New month together - in that we can chronicle it on our respective blogs.

      I'm sure your making and mending of clothes will be far more successful than my dodgy attempts.

      Good luck with the herbs. I also love rocket and coriander but hear they're difficult to grow.

  5. girl, these resolutions are fab. the less meat thing is such a good idea. and no bottled water (ALTHOUGH I AM DRINKING ONE NOW -- ARGH!). i am trying to eat more eggs and fish vs. meat. probably not the noblest of goals, but it is a start.

    and every year i am supposed to lose weight, exercise more, and save more money. AND have more fun.

    i need to read your list again -- it is way better than mine!

    1. Thanks for reading!

      I have a longer list of goals that includes the more traditional new year resolutions. It's my "32 for 32" list (my birthday is conveniently in the first half of January) and mainly borrows from my "30 for 30" - all the goals I didn't achieve when I was 30! I just found a notebook from 2003 where I listed resolutions for 2004 (when I was still a med student)...things like "learn Spanish" and "learn to sew" have been on there forever.