Most of us start the New Year with a whole bunch of resolutions and, while we really try to stick to them, our motivation slowly fades away and we are back to our old habits. So, with January behind us, we should not only reaffirm some of the resolutions we dropped this month but also ahead and brainstorm some ideas that we can easily integrate into our everyday life which are not only good for our souls but also for our sweating planet.
What better place is there to start planning the rest of the year than with our eating habits? Reducing waste when cooking is a key aspect when it comes to cultivating a healthy food culture. If you want to avoid frequently standing in front of an empty fridge, meal planning might be the thing for you. Mapping out what you might be eating in the upcoming week makes shopping much easier and allows you to combine your ingredients in various ways. One thing that should only take up a small space both on your plate and in your fridge is meat. Conventional meat production is quite far from what one would call eco-friendly. Choosing quality instead of quantity or even implementing a meatless Monday in your weekly schedule can be a great plus and Groningen is very friendly towards its vegetarian population. No matter if you are cooking at home or eating out with your friends, there is always a way to avoid eating unhealthily. However, it is not only about what we eat but also about what we buy. Being broke is part of every student’s life now and then and buying eco-friendly food is not always an option. Fortunately, the Vismarkt provides regionally sourced options that are actually affordable.
Reduce your waste
When shopping, make sure you bring your own bag and try to cut down your plastic use and avoid unnecessary waste. Constant dripping wears away the stone and being more conscious of the issue can be a great first step. Investing in your own water bottle could be the next one. With refill stations available all around the city this should be an easy goal. If you are really into it you could also get a sustainable coffee mug to reduce your daily waste. Just don’t forget to take it with you when you leave the house in the morning.
When it comes to moving around, Groningers are already doing very well. It is incredibly hard to not come across a Dutchman who isn’t the proud owner of a bicycle and the internationals are more than willing to embrace Dutch cycling culture. But on the flipside, there are those who do also like taking a plane from time to time to keep in touch with their loved ones at home. While there are not always alternatives to air travel, we can still put an effort into opting for the train when it comes to medium distance travel. Especially when travelling in groups, spending a train ride together can turn getting from A to B into a pleasant experience. Even when a car must be taken, we can do so without forgetting Mother Nature. There are plenty of car-sharing opportunities around Groningen and, before going on the next lonely trip, we can offer to share our vehicle with those heading in the same direction.
Make your living space more energy efficient
Reduce your water usage, turn off your lights, watch your heating! Most of us have heard that before. And it is not only good for the planet but also for your finances. Being a bit more aware of those issues might make you smile when you see the bill at the end of the month. Living more sustainably can start right at the beginning. When moving into a new place, you could ask around for furniture before planning the next trip to IKEA. If you have to go there nonetheless you could also get a fancy rug. Those are not only really stylish but help keep the floor insulated. It is the little things we have to look out for, be it unplugging our electrical devices or switching from incandescent light bulbs to long-lasting LEDs.
Watch what you’re wearing
“Think first before you buy” is good advice to follow. Fast fashion turns quickly into fashion of the past no matter how appealing something might appear at first. Buying quality clothing might be even better for your wallet in the long run or you could find some gems when vintage shopping. To spice your wardrobe up a little, you can also arrange clothing swaps with friends. Even if you are not into wearing used clothes, you can still decide to donate or sell your own clothes instead of binning them. After washing your clothes, you could try to avoid the tumble dryer and go for the drying racks instead.
Have a look at the Green Office
If you are really interested in sustainability now you could check out the RUG’s Green Office Groningen and their projects to make the university more sustainable. You might even consider becoming an Ambassador and help improve your faculty’s environmental standards. They are run by both staff members and students and provide sustainability advice on their blog.
Don’t stress out
And a last piece of advice: Do not blame yourself when it doesn’t work out for you all the time. Resolutions are frustrating and often hard to keep up with. Try to not set too many big goals but make one step at a time. Changing small habits can make the big picture look a lot different and when it is time to write next year's resolutions you might be surprised to find how much you have changed this year.