2017 was one of intense personal growth for me, for so many reasons, and I’m really glad that I had a little corner of the internet here on CSC to share part of it. When it comes to conscious living and ethical shopping, I took a lot of little actions myself, beyond just writing about my favorite conscious brands on the blog. It’s easy to overlook them and feel like those accomplishments were small, but they really do add up. I thought I’d share the 5 main actions I took in 2017, as well as 5 more I’ll take this coming year, as we say goodbye to this strange, tumultuous year. I hope it helps you see that whatever it is that seemed small to you–it was really pretty big!
1. Boycotted palm oil – I stopped bringing grocery items containing the horribly destructive ingredient palm oil into my home. No Girl Scout Cookies, virtually no processed snacks, and no buying from the bakery (or most of the baking aisle) at the store. Even many of all our beloved Trader Joe’s snacks contain palm oil. While I didn’t get as far as drilling my local restaurants and bakeries about their use of palm oil, I’m so proud of the work my bf and I did in avoiding any products with it. Let me tell you, if you’re looking to lose weight in 2018, boycotting palm oil is the way to do it. Ha! I’d been struggling to cut out processed food for several years. But knowing the effects of palm oil, it doesn’t even SOUND good to me anymore.
2. Signed up for updates on issues – From Change.org to Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience to Swing Left, I’ve joined online communities that keep me updated and offer a jumping off point for taking action. I’ve been careful not to join too many lists that don’t end on a hopeful note or suggest a tangible action step, since it’s easy to become overwhelmed and burnt out.
3. Brought reusable mugs + napkins everywhere, said no to utensils/napkins in take out – Everyone has “use your reusable mug” on their list of eco actions, but I don’t know many, if any, that do this on a regular basis. This year I made a commitment to practicing what I preach. It took some getting used to (saying no to straws at restaurants can be pretty awkward for some reason), but I’ve reduced so much waste and feel genuinely more myself when actions like this align with my values.
4. Signed up for good news – I’ve also made sure to join communities like Small Victories that celebrate the positives. Waking up to this email every Friday has helped me realize, week after week, the impact that grassroots efforts can have.
5. Supported small businesses in the resistance – From activist postcards to a resistance t-shirt, I’ve been more choosy about the businesses I support. If I saw a brand making an impact beyond ethical/sustainable goods, like charitable efforts or activism, I supported them however I could!
5 actions I’ll take in 2018
1. Be more vocal – Using my voice has always been uncomfortable. While I’m not one to back down from voicing my support for something or speaking up when something is really wrong, there are a lot of times that I felt I should do more but didn’t have faith that I could articulate myself effectively or just “prove myself”. Speaking up takes time and I’ll continue to challenge myself in the future.
2. Get educated – So many things I value, like sustainability and social change, come with complex, often convoluted pasts and paths. It’s my goal to take those things I really care about and spend time learning as much as I can.
3. Narrow focus to combat overwhelm and stay productive – At the same time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted. Jen Hofmann, author of the activism checklist I referenced above, talks about choosing your top causes rather than trying to do everything at once. My goal this year is to finally narrow it down!
4. Spread the word about palm oil – It’s not enough to stop shopping in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Like I said, Palm oil is in everything. The next step is to make sure it’s not in the foods I order (especially if I order something listed as vegan, as palm oil is not cruelty free). It’s a tough conversation and I never want to be *that person* at a restaurant, but just like with ethical fashion, there are a lot of things we’d all do differently if we knew our impact. Besides that, I also want to help raise awareness and learn about real solutions. I guess you could say this is one of my main causes.
5. Stop shopping on Amazon prime etc – I don’t spend too much time on Amazon because it’s hard to tell where products are from, and the packaging waste is pretty incredible. Perhaps you can relate after this holiday season? So this year, it’s a goal of mine to find alternatives for some of the things I’d normally look to Amazon or Target for, and see if I can find a sustainable way of going about it, instead.
Whew, if you got through this whole post… Thanks for reading! Whats 1 change you made this year and 1 you plan to make next?