Humane New Year’s Resolutions for a Better 2014

The New Year is almost here. For many of us that means reflecting on the past twelve months and thinking, what can we do better? What can we improve for 2014? That brings us to the age-old tradition of new year’s resolutions. Maybe you want to eat better, exercise more or take the vacation of your dreams. Goodness knows, there is always something each of us could improve.
 
In addition to the regular resolutions, we would like to add a few more for your consideration. Instead of just looking inward, we’re suggesting a few that will help improve the world for people, animals and the environment. We’ll call them humane resolutions.
 
This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a good place to start. We would love to hear any others you brainstorm as well and if you’re going to put into practice any of the items on this list.
 
reusable bottle1. Ditch the disposable items that are used for five minutes or less. In many ways our world is built on convenience rather than what’s best for the planet. By choosing metal utensils over plastic, ceramic plates instead of paper, rags instead of paper towels, and reusable bags and bottles instead of disposable, we can significantly cut down on the amount of trash we create.
 
2. Choose fair trade. So many of the foods we cherish (we’re looking at you, coffee and chocolate) are sadly made with the help of child labor, slave labor, or drastically underpaid labor. Rather than give our money to companies that profit off of the exploitation of others, choose to support companies that pay people for a job well done. 
 
used book store3. Buy used. Looking to buy a new book? A new winter coat? A new almost anything (we don’t recommend used toothbrushes)? Head to your local used bookstore or thrift store to see what they have in stock. If you don’t find anything local, plenty of booksellers offer used books online for less money and no additional trees chopped down. The same goes for clothes. It takes enormous amounts of resources to make something new. Give the planet a break (as well as your wallet) and buy something previously loved.
 
4. Become a volunteer. This one isn’t just good for the world. It’s also good for you. By volunteering for a cause you care about, you give a nonprofit some much needed help and feel great about giving back in the process. It’s a win/win. Whether it’s tabling, grant writing, graphic design, or even driving, any and all skills are useful when matched with the right organization. 
 
cats in animal shelter5. Adopt a dog or cat from your local shelter. When we talk to people who have adopted, we hear the same thing over and over. It’s something along the lines of, “I didn’t save him. He saved me.” When we rescue an animal from the shelter, we’re not just giving a home to one of the 6-8 million animals who wind up in shelters each year, we’re also forming an unbreakable bond with a brand new family member.
 
6. Donate the things you no longer need. This one might go hand-in-hand with something already on your to-do list: declutter. Go through your closets, basements and attics, figure out what you need, what you don’t, and who you can give it to. Plenty of organizations will even come to your home to pick up donations. Children’s organizations might want toys, clothes, or books. Women’s shelters could use clothes. Habitat for Humanity sells furniture and appliances to fund their work. Animal shelters need leashes, blankets and beds. There are endless possibilities and endless needs.
 
woman riding bike7. Ditch the car. We all need to get from point A to point B. What we sometimes overlook is just how many different ways there are to get where you need to go. When you go out, ask yourself if you need to drive or would any of the following work just as well or better: walking, bicycling, bus, subway, train. (Walking and biking might aid you in getting in better shape – another common resolution.)
 
8. Reduce your consumption of animal products. It’s no secret that modern farming methods (also known as factory farming) are bad news for animals, workers, human health and the environment. By choosing to eat food that doesn’t come from factory farms, we can help reduce greenhouse gases, keep our bodies healthy and protect animals from cruel practices. (For other ways to help while eating, choose organic and local foods. Also, visit your local farmer’s market.)
 
water bottle trash9. Each day, pick up a piece of trash. On most trips out of the house, you’re likely to see some sort of pollution. Because we see so many bottles, cigarette butts, and scraps of paper floating around, it’s easy to walk on by without even registering their existence. Instead, consider committing to picking up just one piece per day. See it, grab it, and recycle or trash it depending on what kind of object it is. Making this small effort will not just help the planet; it will also open your eyes to just how big of a problem pollution is. 
 
10. Use less water. If you live in the USA, chances are you’ve got cheap clean water coming out of your taps, perfect for drinking, showering, watering plants and…yes, flushing the toilet. Most of us don’t think anything of it. But when you consider how many people all over the world don’t have clean water and even die due to waterborne illnesses, we should really be counting our lucky stars and doing everything we can to conserve each drop of this precious resource. Consider taking shorter showers, making sure to turn off the tap while soaping up your hands or brushing your teeth, only flushing the toilet when you need to instead of with every trip to the bathroom. You can also switch to planet friendly cleaners so you don’t contaminate the water while cleaning. 
 
animal testing logo11. Choose products that are not tested on animals. One of the easiest ways to help animals is by looking at labels when you purchase cleaning products and cosmetics. You’ll either see text on the bottle that says, “This product was not tested on animals” or a logo for the leaping bunny, an easy visual that tells you you’re buying a cruelty free product. Companies want you to buy their stuff. If they see it’s more profitable to go cruelty free, you can bet that’s what they are going to do.
 
12. If you see something, say something. One of the things we teach our kids is that knowing about the problem is just the first step. Once we educate ourselves about an injustice, it’s important to speak out. If you hear about a company using sweatshops or polluting or testing on animals, write them an email, make a phone call, or share it on social media. Getting in touch with a company or politician has never been easier. In 2014 let’s all make a pledge to stand up and speak out for what we believe in.
 
As we said, we just scratched the surface with our little list. We would love to hear from you about your humane resolutions and what you hope to do in 2014 to make the world a kinder place for all of us. Together, we can make the world a better place for all life on earth.
 
Photo Credit: Adam Bender/Flickr, Nick Lobnitz/Flickr, Kate Ter Haar/Flickr, Jennuine Captures/Flickr, Brew Books/Flickr, Alan Levine/Flickr

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top