For some inspiration, we've spoken to three people who have adopted individual resolutions to protect the planet: Lisanne no longer flies because she believes it to be unnecessary; Caroline stopped buying new clothes altogether, despite being very fashion-conscious; and Wyke who has chosen a plant-based diet.
Read on to find out more about how they've found sticking to these resolutions.
1. How to stop flying
Lisanne Boersma is a sustainable energy campaigner. In 2018, she made her last plane trip and decided never to fly again.
This trip was my honeymoon to Peru and we therefore felt it was 'permissible'. My uncle gave us six small trees as gifts that we planted in special places like the venue where we got married. 'If all those little trees keep growing for 50 years, you will compensate for your plane trip to Peru,' my uncle explained.
Still, the trip didn't feel quite right. You come for the beautiful nature while, thanks to your air travel, you simultaneously contribute to destroying that same nature. Also, in the process, you spend hours and hours travelling around the country to get from one place to another. It's like going to Spain and Greece on one holiday. This trip was the last plane journey for us. I love hiking and there are so many places to explore in Europe.
My most recent holiday in the French Alps; it’s a perfect location for hiking enthusiasts. I was also able to see glaciers here, but it's closer to home than Peru. One day's travel and you're there. During the Covid-19 crisis, I also discovered a lot more in the Netherlands, including going to visit the oldest tree in the country. By train, there are countless fun trips to consider. Scotland is still on the list, as is Poland.
Europe's train network continues to expand. An overnight train to Vienna, for example, is a new addition. It is good to think less in terms of destinations, and instead be guided by what’s on offer. I am now taking more time to discover all the places you can travel to by train. This is made easier with books like Lonely Planet's '80 Sustainable Journeys'. When you put some time into it, it makes it fun. And while on the journey itself, you also see places you wouldn't otherwise see.
I lived in India for six months and for my graduation research I spent long periods in Indonesia. For such an experience, I might want to fly again someday. But then I would very deliberately go somewhere for a longer period. In my daily life, I needn’t miss these other cultures. The great thing is that you can also discover them in your own city. In Utrecht where I live, you already find so many different nationalities. You can visit Eritrean coffee evenings or dance traditional Syrian dances. And because they are your fellow townspeople, you also get to know people better than when you travel around.
2. How to find second-hand clothes
Caroline van Bunnik loved shopping. Yet she has not bought a single item of new clothing for almost two years, though she does buy second-hand. As a fashion lover, how can you make this change?
I turn it into a game. I used to buy a lot of new clothes, but suddenly it occurred to me that this was absolutely unnecessary. I still buy second-hand, but when I buy something, I also have to get rid of something. As a result, I save a lot of money.
I then use Vinted where you buy and resell second-hand clothes. It’s a community where people across Europe buy and sell clothes. I make sure I buy good brands that last and, if possible, are durable. I will not buy low-quality second-hand clothes.
It didn't even cost me that much effort. Sometimes when I walk in the city now, I think: Did I always buy clothes in these shops? The nice thing is that you can be surprised by something available through the app and buy something you wouldn't usually buy in a shop.
I often drop by thrift shops but don't buy clothes there. Sometimes, though, if there is something on sale in a nice fabric I may buy it to make bags out of it. But for my own clothes, I target my searches. The advantage of an app is that you can search for what you want. You can narrow down your search by looking for the type of sizes, styles and brands you prefer.
The downside to buying second-hand clothing online is that it has to be delivered. Vinted uses Homerr. That means parcels will only be delivered by vans that are running anyway. And I never have orders delivered to my home, but to a pick-up location, which also saves emissions.
Take your time
Buying second-hand clothes takes a bit more time so you need to enjoy the process. Try to make it a game. Suppose you are looking for a particular pair of trousers, do you really need them right away? Keep searching and wait until you find the right pair. Then you'll be extra happy when you do.
3. Why eating plant-based is not so complicated
Wyke Potjer (writer at itcanWEL.co.uk) has been eating vegan for about four years now. We’re curious to know how difficult this is and help those who might want to eat plant-based food more often.
When I became a vegetarian, it was because of animal suffering. I thought eating vegan was a bit excessive at the time, as no animals needed to die for dairy or eggs. But when I saw very young calves boxed in on a farm, taken away from their mothers, that changed. I didn't want to participate in that.
What helps is not being too hard on yourself. I was initially going to try it out for a month, but also told myself: 'If you feel like a cheese sandwich, just eat it'. Once I was in the shop and I has a real craving for cheese so decided to buy it. I had to run another errand first and once home, I realised I hadn't bought the cheese. Completely forgotten. So again, I didn't think it was that important.
One month has followed another and now I've been keeping it up for four years. I still keep the option open to eat that cheese sandwich if I really feel like it. Beforehand, I thought I wouldn't be able to resist cheese. ‘Never again’ is a very strong commitment and that's why I think it helps to not be too strict, allowing yourself freedom when you really feel like something.
On average, a person has about 10 to 15 recipes in their repertoire to fall back on. That suddenly disappears when you go vegan, so you might need to learn new recipes. Rather than seeing this as a chore, make it a game to try new recipes and discover what you like. In the beginning, I stood gazing at lots of ingredients in the supermarket, but soon you know what you can and can't eat. And which items are good substitutes for biscuits and chocolate.
There are all kinds of products I had no idea about – like volcanic salt to sprinkle on tofu scrambled egg. The salt mimics the smell of egg. By sprinkling a little turmeric on top, the colour is right too. I'm not done discovering, I still need to find out how to make a tasty quiche.
Cheese remains a thing with me, but that is evolving. Good vegan cheeses are pricey, but I sometimes treat myself to vegan camembert. Yes, it is more expensive but I don't need it every day. It’s the same as your mindset with fashion where we need to get used to not buying new clothes all the time.
People wonder if vegans get enough vitamins, but I don't find it too difficult. Eating a range of fruit and vegetables helps me get the vitamins I need, so I only need to supplement B12 and D3. Eating vegan can also be good for you because if you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, you will get more healthy fibre.
Take your time
“The lockdown helped me slow down at mealtimes. Because I work from home, I now often take time at midday to eat hot food. Rice and vegetables are easier to digest than meat or dairy, so I don't find that I'm sat at my desk feeling full.
That's a good thing in itself. Vegan food costs your body less energy to digest. I feel more energetic.”