Gandhi famously said, “The future depends on what we do in the present”. The start of a new year is traditionally a time when we consider how we can improve ourselves going forward. It’s a moment to reflect on our lifestyles, ponder the likely over-indulgence of the festive season, and make personal promises; eat better, drink less, tidy our lives, learn something, make more time for me, do more good. All these great aspirations for the future, have one thing in common. They all require a change of habits in the present. Sometimes easier said than done!
A study by the European Journal of Social Psychology concluded that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. In actual fact, that figure varies immensely depending on the situation, and habit-forming can take anywhere between 18-254 days! Changing habits certainly needs a motivation and generally needs a cue.
When it comes to adopting a greener lifestyle, firstly we need personal motivation. At ethikaal we believe the 17 Global Goals, as agreed by the United Nations, give insight into the urgency around ending poverty, fighting inequality and addressing climate change. Or a bit closer to our home in Hong Kong, with over 11,000 tonnes of waste going to landfill each and every day, and no more landfill space left, gives us a timely sense of importance and motivation around making change.
So how do we figure out how to change habits for a better world? In the case of living a more sustainable life, this often means; being prepared, being a bit more organised, and also accepting that we are unlikely to succeed if we change everything all in one go (although we strongly commend anyone who commits to going 100% ‘plastic-free’ and perhaps there is some logic to going ‘cold turkey’ on plastic). Baby steps are OK.
Here are a few planet-changing, small habits, to get us stepping in the right direction:
Pack green and avoid single-use ‘anythings’. We’re all getting better at never leaving home without a re-usable water bottle/coffee cup and grocery bag. For 2022, take it up a notch.
Step 1: Boost your kit with a smaller ‘bento’ shopping bag to hold and weigh loose items, e.g. cherries, tomatoes and other soft fruit, baked goods or anything that needs a little extra protection inside your big shopping bag.
Step 2: Bring re-usable cutlery or a re-usable straw, if you often pick up take out.
Step 3: For serious extra merit, bring your own box for take-out food.
Consider packing these items in your bag/car permanently, which may help.
Recycling is much easier if there’s a system in place. Countries, towns, local councils and neighbourhoods all have different recycling facilities. Find out what yours are.
Step 1: Decide which is the easiest recycling for you to adopt, e.g. glass, plastic, card or food (depending on what services are offered to you). Begin with one or two.
Step 2: Find a space at home and use a bag/box to collect your recycling. Decide on a regular day, and person, to take out the recycling.
Consider your shopping habits. Yes, it may take a little longer, and require a little more planning, but all the measures under ‘Being Prepared’ will help.
Step 1: Purchase food bulk where possible (less packaging), refillable (start collecting jars and tins for this purpose) or most easy to adopt, buy food loose! Shop for fruit and veg at the market (BYO bags) or loose in the supermarket. Same rules apply for butcher, fishmonger and baker.
Step 2: Search out shops and online stores where you can find products that meet your ‘green’ ethics – organic, high welfare, ethical, supporting underprivileged communities. It may require some extra time, but choose your favourites, set up an account so re-ordering is easy, and enjoy the double satisfaction of purchases that give back to planet and people, as well as supporting smaller, local businesses that are doing good.
ethikaal is a new online marketplace, offering a curated collection of delightful sustainable brands which are good for the planet, great for the people making them and beautiful for our homes. It’s also the first place to shop for habit-changing essentials!