When many people think of New Year’s resolutions, they think of ways to improve themselves for the year ahead. What if we broaden these aspirations to include resolutions that also benefit our communities, society and the planet?
It might not be a typical approach, but it can broaden your horizons to show how you can be of service to others as well.
Here are four Popular New Years Resolutions with a twist to improve your relationship with nature in 2022 and beyond.
Pay more attention to the impact of your actions on the environment
We each have a environmental ethics reflecting how we value, manage and ultimately relate to nature. Balancing the scales of reciprocity between us and nature – how much we give and take – can improve this relationship in many ways. Whether it’s our addiction to single-use plastics that pile up in landfills or fossil fuels warming the planet, a poorly managed relationship with nature is doing us and the Earth a disservice.
In 2022, we can all take more responsibility for how our actions exacerbate environmental problems. We can also encourage governments and businesses to make it easier for people from various socio-economic backgrounds to protect the environment. This includes making recycled products affordable and reliable public transport widely accessible.
Consult with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Resources describing very simple ways to reduce waste at home, at work, in our communities and on vacation. Tips from the website include turning lights off or unplugging during the day, reusing packaging materials, and using online billing services instead of paper mail.
Lose the weight of social injustice – it harms nature too
A recent study describes how practices such as redlining and residential segregation have led to unequal access to nature, excessive pollution and loss of biodiversity. These practices introduced highways and industries that harm the quality of the environment in marginalized communities. They also left neighborhoods with fewer parks and cool trees in summer and benefits the planet.
Perpetuate social ills such as systemic racism and inequitable allocation of resources is harmful to the environment, to marginalized people and to society as a whole.
To help turn the tide, you can speak up in your community. Join groups that seek to promote environmental protection and social justice and bring nature back to communities. Call on your city, state, and congressional leaders to urge them to take action. Also refer to Green report 2.0on the success of diversity initiatives for concrete ways to make this happen in your workplace.
Learn something new about nature and how to reduce damage to the environment and to yourself
Clean air, water and soil are essential to our survival, but research shows many people lack the basics environmental and health literacy know how to protect yourself.
In 2022, get to know your own impact on the environment. Learn more and start exploring ways to preserve the integrity of natural resources in your area. For example, find out where you can stay on top of local land use decisions that impact the environment and your entire community.
You can also support local educators and encourage them to incorporate the environment into lessons. Environmental issues cover many other subjects, from history to health. This site includes a framework and materials for educators to help students develop their environmental knowledge.
Stay connected with the media who discuss the latest research can improve awareness. You can also try associating environmental facts and knowledge with your game night and team building activities.
Spend more time with family and friends in nature
Studies show that spending time in nature, including in urban green spaces, can improve your relationship with nature and with others.
Time spent in nature may increase social cohesion. Throughout the pandemic, many people have discovered the outdoors as a place to decompress and reduce stress. Spending more time outdoors can encourage healthful social interactions, dab on emotional distress and encourage the use of these spaces, which can help protect them for the future.
Collectively, reflecting on our relationship with nature and finding ways to protect the environment can help us be better stewards of the planet.
Viniece Jennings is Assistant Professor of Public Health at Agnes Scott College.