Monday 31 December 2012

Can ‘Living Sustainably’ be a New Year Resolution?

Living Sustainably is My New Year Resolution

After hearing a lot from my friends and colleagues about their New Year Resolutions, I started wondering if ‘Living Sustainably’ can become a New Year resolution. Some of the popular resolutions I came across while talking with them can be clubbed under two broad categories - Health & Appearance and Organization & Discipline. Most people, both men and women, seemed to be bitten by the everlasting desire to maintain their young looks, be healthy, and be in good shape. 

Health and Appearance: Losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle seemed to have more takers. The resolutions that came under this category ranged from – “I will cut down on junk food" (with explicit reference to fast food), “I will cut down on non-vegetarian food" (with an urge to move towards vegetarianism), “I will cut down on oil and fatty food" (with an underlying need to cut health risks), “I will take a morning walk every day", “I will go to gym regularly”, “I will eat a healthy diet”, “I will stop using canned foods”, (all highlighting a need to adopt a healthy lifestyle),“I will practice meditation and/or yoga” (with a need to explore spiritual boundaries). 

Organization & Discipline: Another popular need is to organize one’s activities. Timeliness, punctuality, discipline and consistency – all seemed to be influencing New Year resolutions among the young and old alike – “I will stop reaching late to school”, “I will finish my work on time”, “I will spend sufficient time with my family”, “I will not stay late at my office” and “I will maintain a proper work schedule”.

But are these not the same resolutions we make every year? So, what is so amusing about them? 

True, we try our very best to stick to our New Year resolutions, but somewhere down the year, we buckle under situations or just forget about it. (I am talking of the larger population and not the minuscule percentage of people, who by their sheer will, do stick to their New Year resolutions). We do feel guilty for our actions and tend to rationalize by cooking excuses – that mollify our pangs of helplessness. So what some (non-serious) people say might stand true that - “New Year resolutions are meant to be broken and forgotten!”  And that’s how we stare at another New Year, with more or less the same set of resolutions! Nevertheless, we pull ourselves again and keep on trying till we are personally happy at what we achieve. 

But what amuses me is that most of us strongly believe that a “good life” demands a bit of sacrifice, which most of the time means – saying ‘NO’ when we want to say ‘YES’; yet we fall short of pushing ourselves harder to achieve it. Why are we not able to say 'NO' to unhealthy food? Why are we not able to follow a daily exercise routine? Or maintain something that we promised? It is because of our habits and lifestyles that are so very much influenced by external factors. We are tempted to buy things that cost less when purchased in bulk, even when we know that we would not need that much. So what happens is that we tend to consume more because we bought more! Since long, businesses have used this tactic to push more of their products by offering discounts and freebies that has resulted in over-consumption. 

A similar trend exists on 'saving time' that has influenced our lifestyles. More comforts are available at the push of a button. So, your resolution to use the stairs in your apartment goes in vain as saving on time by using the elevator becomes more pressing.

New Year resolutions are all about reforming habits and changing lifestyles - which is very much needed now. We have become a society where over-consumption has become a norm. We, as a human race, are rapidly exploiting earth's resources to meet our present needs and destroying the ability of future generations to meet their needs. 

Sustainability - has become a global concern. To save our planet and generations that are yet to come, we need to reform our habits and change our lifestyles. Laws do exist to enforce environment-friendly behavior but it has to begin with us to bring about perceptible change. 

Interestingly, most of our New Year resolutions hover around sustainability. Though they are personal and self-centric, there exists an urge to do away with things that do not naturally fit in or are harmful to our natural system. Getting rid of excess flab and reducing unnecessary consumption are some of the aspects of a sustainable lifestyle. 

“Living Sustainably” can become a New Year resolution. If we just nudge ourselves a little bit more to overcome those external influences that deter us from keeping our resolve, we can bring some change in our habits that will go a long way in bringing a deeper change in our society. 

“Living Sustainably”: Some New Year Resolutions
  1. I will cut down my fuel consumption
  2. I will stop using plastic bags
  3. I will buy groceries from local vendors
  4. I will reduce my electricity consumption 
  5. I will promote car pool in my office and neighborhood
  6. I will reuse and recycle waste materials at home
  7. I will cut down on my water consumption 
  8. I will use eco-friendly home cleaners
  9. I will not purchase products from suppliers who violate environmental norms
  10. I will use renewable energy sources – solar-powered water heaters, etc., in my locality
  11. I will teach my children to save natural resources
  12. I will prevent wastage of food and other eatables
  13. I will stop using products known to have harmful chemicals 
Wish you a Happy New Year 2013 ! 

Editor -

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