How to close the book on 2020 and put your New Year’s resolutions into action
2020. Man. I think we’re all in agreement when we say it’s a year we’re very, VERY glad to have behind us. You may still be reeling from everything that happened last year, and that’s absolutely okay; it takes time to process, and we should all give ourselves ample space to work through our feelings, grieve what we have lost, and just let ourselves rest a little. But whenever you feel ready, let’s make the most of 2021, shall we? There’s never been a better time to wipe the slate clean and build a safer, healthier, more sustainable life for you and your family. Here, our roundup of the types of practical clean resolutions that will actually stick: achievable, realistic, simple ones that make a big impact, and will effortlessly fit into your daily routine in the new year.
It’s easy being green
Last year showed us just how vital being outside can be—and renewed our appreciation for green spaces everywhere. Studies have shown that plants and green spaces are not just good for the planet, they’re good for us—and help to transform the little ones into budding naturalists, explorers, and farmers.
- Start a garden. If you’re a gardening newbie, herbs like mint, parsley, and basil are incredibly easy to grow; even if you live in an apartment you can find a spot to grow a few plants on a windowsill or fire escape. Enlisting the kiddos in the process is half the fun, and totally counts as quality homeschooling if you’re still engaged in distance learning for 2021.Toddlers and older kids love to help dig in the dirt, learn about the science of plant-growing, and enjoy picking leaves when the time comes for harvesting. If you’ve already had some previous experience with gardening, start a flower garden for pollinators like butterflies and bees—bonus points if you can use all native plants—or build a raised bed for growing your own vegetables. And for those of you with tiny picky eaters, here’s the greatest secret of all: if they grow it, and cook it, they almost always want to eat it.
- Join a CSA. With so many restaurants temporarily closed, many small farmers are in need of our help right now. Community-supported agriculture—CSA for short—is a great way to connect with your local organic farmers and get incredible produce in the bargain. Here’s how it works: you subscribe in advance for a weekly “mystery box” of fruits and vegetables from a local farm. Every week, you pick up your farm box and receive the absolute freshest produce that’s in season (including exciting ingredients you might not have seen before!), and your farmer gets a steady source of income. Some CSAs even give subscribers the option of a socially distant visit to the farm itself, so you and your kids can see your food growing. Who doesn’t love a (literal!) field trip?
- Plant a tree! One of the best possible ways to combat climate change is to plant trees. Fortunately, there are about a billion different ways to do it, even if you don’t have the space yourself for creating a forest. Non-profits like The Nature Conservancy and One Tree Planted help with global reforestation, and will plant a tree for as little as a one dollar donation. If you want to plant a tree in your own neighborhood, check to see if your city has an urban forestry department with guidelines on local trees that work well in your area. If you submit a tree planting application, the city may even plant a tree for free on public property right by your house.
Home sweet nontoxic home
We’re all spending a little (read: a LOT) more time in our houses these days, thanks to travel restrictions, new work-from-home arrangements, and shelter-in-place orders. So now’s the perfect time for a deep clean to flush out any toxins that might be lurking around your home.
- Make the clean skincare swap. Your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs what you put on it, good or bad. That’s why ingredient safety is so crucial, especially for pregnant moms and babies. Swap out potentially harmful conventional baby care and skincare with nontoxic products for the entire family. Pipette’s formulas are safer because we ban over 2000 potentially harmful ingredients from our products, and use only super-clean ingredients that actually nourish and replenish skin. Want to check the toxicity of other skincare products you own? Check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, which scientifically analyzes over 70,000 personal care products and gives each one a safety grade. (Ours get the highest possible safety ratings!)
- Go organic—with your furniture. Did you know that traditional mattresses and upholstery can harbor chemicals that may be harmful to your health? When it’s time to invest in a new mattress or piece of upholstered furniture, look for products that have Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification, and aren’t coated with chemical flame retardants, which have been shown to accumulate more in kids than in adults (probably because those littles are always putting things in their mouths!)
- Start a no-shoes policy. It’s not only dirt you’re tracking in: there can be all manner of herbicides, pesticides and general bacterial grossness stuck to the bottoms of your footwear. It’s that much more important to go shoe-free if you’ve got a curious crawler—or future crawler—in the house.
Exercise more…without the gym
Pre-pandemic you might have been a spin class devotee, yoga practitioner, or a gym enthusiast. But with so many gym and studio closures during quarantine, a lot of people have fallen off the exercise wagon. But starting back up again isn’t as heavy a lift as you think.
- Youtube workouts forever! If you haven’t already gone down the Youtube fitness rabbit hole, this is your moment: We’re living in a golden age of online workouts, many of which are free. Are you looking for toning and strengthening moves? Dance cardio? Blogilates? There’s a YouTube channel for everything—and because it’s so simple to pop one on any time of day, it can slip into your routine seamlessly.
- This one’s really easy: walk. As all parents can attest, making sure your kids get their energy out during the day is priority number one. So let’s turn these days of distance learning and homeschooling into a win for both of you: on your kiddos’ midday breaks, go for walks—15 minutes, half an hour, whatever time you’ve got. A few brisk neighborhood explorations can add up to some serious steps by the end of the day, and will ensure you don’t have a little one bouncing off the walls when it’s bedtime.
- You didn’t think we’d get out of the exercise section without addressing the mind-body connection, did you? Wildly popular apps like Headspace and Waking Up have made regular meditation an easy habit to integrate into your life, and there’s a growing body of research on how mindfulness practices can help a variety of health issues, from the itchiness of eczema to blood pressure. Not to mention, after 2020, we could all use a little more peace—and a little more space for ourselves.
Enough already, plastic
Sometimes it feels like the fight against the ever-present plastic in our lives is like a battle against the White Walkers: the plastic just keeps coming. But small changes can really add up.
- Ditch the plastic wrap. We know this is a hard one—plastic cling film just works so damn well!—but we’ve been loving Bee’s Wrap Made from beeswax and organic cotton, it’s reusable, washable, and compostable, and functions just as well for wrapping up cheese or covering the tops of bowls.
- Phase out plastic sandwich bags and individually wrapped snacks. Take a page out of Rosie Huntington Whiteley’s book and spring for cute, washable silicone pouches or fabric bags for snacks on the run—or use sealable, recyclable paper baggies like these from Lunchskins, which come in cheery prints kids will love. And instead of buying individually packaged kid snacks—we’re looking at you, string cheese—see if there are creative ways to buy similar foods in bulk, then cut it up and package it up yourself in more planet-friendly wrappings.
- Bring your own bags. Not only can you bring cloth market bags to the grocery store or farmers market, you can also bring your own compostable bags for packing up individual fruits and vegetables instead of using single-use plastic produce bags. If you’ve converted to grocery delivery services during the pandemic, that makes life a little trickier on the reusable bag front—but it’s worth asking your food delivery company if they will accept their own bags and boxes back to recycle them.