Ready to make a truly meaningful New Year’s Resolution?
2020 is over. And what a year it has been.
Time to look forward. And time to think about your New Year’s resolution.
But, especially after a year like 2020, it shouldn’t be just any resolution. Commit to a truly meaningful New Year’s Resolution for 2021. Challenge yourself – and make our planet a better place in the same run.
It’s easier than you think. Here are 11 New Year’s resolutions ideas that truly make an impact, as well as action plans for varying difficulty levels to ensure you actually stick to your resolution in 2021.
And, for good measure, you’ll also find the top 3 reasons why most people don’t stick to their New Year’s resolution here – and how you can avoid them.
Why should my New Year’s resolutions make an impact?
Of course you could opt for an entirely selfish New Year’s resolution. Many people do. After all, “exercising more” or “saving more money” helps nobody but themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with a selfish New Year’s resolution. But imagine you committed to a meaningful resolution, which benefits not just you, but also our planet and its other inhabitants. How cool would that be?
Just to highlight that: Each of the below impactful New Year’s resolutions of course also benefits you! But, on top of that, other players such as the planet, biodiversity or other humans benefit in the same run.
Sustainability in its best form is holistically sustainable, meaning everyone benefits. And that’s exactly what you can achieve when committing to a meaning- and impactful New Year’s resolution.
3 main Reasons why most people don’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions
According to Forbes¹, only 25% of Americans stick to their New Year’s resolution for at least 30 days. Even worse, only 8% accomplish them.
Here are the 3 top reasons why most people fail their resolution – and how you can avoid these pitfalls.
#1: The New Year’s resolution is too ambitious
The main challenge of New Year’s resolutions is that most people commit to far too ambitious goals.
If you’d like to save more money, committing to “I’ll save 30% more of my income next year” is destined to fail – because that is far too ambitious.
It’d be much smarter to approach your resolution with small steps, such as “Every month I will save 2.5% more than the month before”. That way in January you’ll save 2.5% more, in February 5% and so on, until you’re finally saving 30% more by the end of the year.
The same goes for exercising more, eating healthier or smoking less. If you’ll attempt to go from zero to hero, the chances are extremely high that you’ll fail. If you accept that there’s no elevator to success, and you commit to taking the stairs, your chances of sticking to your New Year’s resolutions increase significantly.
#2: The resolution is imprecise
The second biggest challenge of New Year’s resolutions is that often they are imprecise.
When exactly do you know that you have “eaten healthier” or “exercised more”?
Commit to a SMART resolution for next year. SMART standing for
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time-bound
Put a measurable number to your resolution. Add a deadline. And off you go.
#3: The New Year’s resolution is forgotten soon after New Year’s
The third biggest challenge is that most people simply forget their New Year’s resolution a few days (or even hours) after they “committed” to them.
Avoiding that is super simple: If you truly mean it, actually want to change something in your life and make a tangible impact next year, write your green resolution on a piece of paper and pin it up in a place where you and everyone who visits you can see it.
That way you not only remind yourself every time you see it, but friends and family who visit you will remind you as well.
That way they’ll start holding you accountable – and public accountability is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll actually stick to your New Year’s resolution next year.
How can I make sure that in 2021 I stick to my New Year’s resolution?
Sticking to your sustainable New Year’s resolution in 2021 is much easier than you think.
Simply avoid the three traps mentioned above.
- Set a realistic resolution and commit to baby steps. Don’t try to go all in from day.
- Set a SMART resolution.
- Write your resolution as well as its action plan down on paper. Write it down as precisely as possible, such as “In January I’ll do abc, in February I’ll do def…” and so on.
The more precise your resolution is formulated, the better.
Feel free to use a paper calendar to cross off the days that you fulfilled your resolution on. It’ll add bonus motivation once you’ve built up a streak.
In addition, committing to a meaningful resolution adds the bonus motivation of the impact you’re having. Since thanks to your valuable resolution you’re not just accountable to yourself, but also to others, you’ll find it becomes a lot easier to stick to it.
Oh, and, we mentioned “your resolution”: Make sure to only commit to one single New Year’s resolution. Despite having listed 11 wonderfully meaningful resolutions here, pick only one single one.
Should you have made that 1 resolution a habit within the first 3 months, you can always come back here and select another one.
Pro Tip: Bookmark this article for easy reference later on. Alternatively, shoot us an email and we’ll happily remind you month- or quarterly of your commitment.
1 special tip to help you succeed with your meaningful New Year’s resolution
As suggested by the Jallenges, wearing a wristband as a constant reminder of your impactful resolution is a clever way to significantly increase your chances of success.
Alternatively, you can set yourself regular reminders on your mobile phone.
However, the single best hack to stick to your New Year’s resolution next year is to convince a friend to join in as well. That way you can hold each other accountable, which is a significant boost in motivation once times get tough.
What’s so special about this “green resolutions” guide?
To help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions, and to ensure these resolutions not just benefit you, but also contribute to a greater good, we created our green New Year’s resolutions guide with a few extra hacks.
All mentioned resolutions are impactful sustainable resolutions
Firstly, you’ll notice that all mentioned resolutions are impactful sustainable resolutions. They’re good for you, and good for our planet.
Varying levels of difficulty
Secondly, we graded each resolution into three levels of difficulty. No matter where on the path you may be, there’ll be one option that challenges you on the one hand, but still is achievable and realistic on the other hand. And, as we learned above, that is key to actually sticking to your New Year’s resolution.
If unsure, start small. You can always move on to the “advanced” resolution in March if in January and February you breezed through the “beginners” challenge.
The costs: These resolutions save you money
Thirdly, we exclusively selected resolutions that don’t break the bank. Since “budgeting better” always is one of the top New Year’s resolutions worldwide, we mostly even chose resolutions that save you money instead of costing you anything.
If they do cost money, such as the New Year’s resolution to plant more trees next year, we’ve linked valuable resources e.g. such as how to plant trees for free.
Can I only commit to a new resolution on New Year’s Day?
No, of course not. You can commit to making our planet a better place any day of the year. If you cross out “New Year’s” from the “New Year’s resolution”, all you have left is a resolution.
And there’s absolutely no law about when to begin a new resolution and to start changing your life for the better.
So even if you’re reading this on any day other than New Year’s Day, feel free to pick your favorite impact resolution and turn it into a habit starting today.
11 Truly Impactful New Year’s Resolutions 2021
Alright. Enough of the pre-talk. Here are 11 super sustainable and truly impactful New Year’s resolutions for 2021.
We’ve enlisted eleven so you could try out a different one every month for the entire next year, and then stick to the one you like best. The one you like best is the one you’ll stick to in December as well.
Whichever one you choose – you’ll actively contribute to making our planet a better place!
Sustainable New Year’s Resolution #1: Plant more trees
Trees are truly universal geniuses when attempting to make our planet a better place.
They fight climate change by absorbing CO2, they serve as habitat for animals to maintain biodiversity, and planting trees creates full-time jobs and incomes for people all across the globe – especially in less privileged areas of our planet.
And that’s only three of the 16 UN Goals for Sustainable Development that planting trees supports!
Hence planting more trees is the single most sustainable and impactful New Year’s resolution you can make. (You may say we’re biased because we are planting trees. But think of it the other way around: We actually started to plant trees because it is the most impactful thing to do.)
Commit to planting more trees next year – you know that our planet needs all the help it can get.
How to turn your green resolution to plant more trees into reality
Planting more trees isn’t difficult at all. You can either do it yourself or have other people do it for you.
In the easiest version turning this resolution into reality is as simple as visiting clickatree.com once per month and plant one tree. How simple is that?
Depending on your ambitions, here are 3 options:
a) Plant one tree per month
b) Plant one tree per week
c) Plant one tree every single day of the next year
Since we promised you that none of our meaningful New Year’s resolutions would break the bank, here are 11 super simple ways how to plant trees for free.
At 1 tree per month, that leaves you with one single tree to be paid for. To get that over and done with, plant your first tree right now.
Impactful Resolution #2: Eat less meat
Stock farming is one of the world’s biggest emitter of CO2 emissions. Eating less meat helps to reduce these emissions – and saves animal lives. It’s a super valuable and impactful New Year’s resolution to make.
And despite common misconception it is far easier than you think.
How to turn your green resolution to eat less meat into reality
As mentioned above, going from 100% carnivore to 100% vegan is an undertaking destined to fail. Taking baby steps is the smartest way to sustainable success.
Select one of these three options that sounds the most realistic to you. There’s no right or wrong – every step helps.
a) Make it meat-free Monday. Don’t eat meat on Mondays.
b) No meat before 6. Don’t eat meat before 6pm.
c) Go vegetarian. It is easier than you think, since there are loads of tasty and healthy vegetarian dishes out there. (Should that not be challenging enough: Try “Veganuary” – go vegan for all of January (or any other month).)
Body- and Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolution #3: Go plogging
Plogging is a Swedish portmanteau of the words “plocka up”, meaning to “pick up”, and “jogging” – meaning, well, you know… aimlessly running around to have an excuse to spend the rest of the day on the couch watching Netflix without feeling too guilty. (Yep, that’s the official definition of “Jogging”.)
Plogging has become quite a thing in Europe already. North Americans are slowly catching up on that trend.
The stuff people pick up is trash that’s lying around. Most ploggers take a small plastic bag with them.
Advanced ploggers fill a reusable cotton bag, empty that in a trash can, wash the bag and start anew.
The added benefit, aside from the ecological aspect, is that you turn jogging into a full-body exercise. All this bending over and picking up stuff perfectly trains your entire body.
And, believe it or not, of course you can go pick up trash without actually jogging, but simply while strolling through the park, taking your dog for a walk or chatting with a friend.
We’ve tried – and received zero complaints from anyone so far.
How to turn your planet-friendly resolution to go plogging into reality
Whether you decide to go jogging or simply pick up trash while taking a walk or going to work is entirely up to you. The only thing you should commit to is a regular frequency.
Here are 3 suggestions:
a) Pick up 5 pieces of trash one time per week.
b) Pick up 7 pieces of trash two days per week.
c) Pick up 10 pieces of trash three days per week.
Feel free to vary these suggestions to anything that suits your schedule and ambitions.
As mentioned above, make sure your goals are achievable: Our planet profits a lot more if you pick up 1 piece of trash every week for all of next year than if you picked up 5 pieces of trash every day but decided on 3rd of January that you’ve had enough.
Green New Year’s Resolution #4: Fly less
Unfortunately, flying isn’t exactly climate-friendly quite yet. Commit to flying less than… well… before the pandemic. (If you were to commit to fly less than in 2020, it’d be a little too easy, don’t you think?)
The added benefit of flying less is that you’ll enjoy flying more, and you’ll look forward to it more.
How to turn your eco-friendly resolution to fly less into reality
Flying less isn’t that hard. We all learned that the hard way in 2020.
If you’re flying a lot for business, explain to your superiors that many meetings could be held online.
If you’re a holiday-flying addict, think about exploring the nearby area in a bit more detail. There are tons of cool places you can reach by train or bus – or even by bike.
Again, let’s just start with the next realistic step.
a) Take 1 flight less next year than you did in 2019
b) Half the number of flights you took in 2019
c) Treat yourself to one single return flight next year
Wherever you go, and whether you travel for business or for leisure: Our ultimate Green Travel Guide helps you travel more sustainably and save a lot of money in the same run.
Impactful New Year’s Resolution #5: Farewell fast fashion
Fast fashion is a term that shouldn’t even exist. However, unfortunately, it does, due to fashion having become so incredibly cheap.
As clever citizen you know that cheap fashion comes at a high price, both for the environment as well as for the working conditions of the people producing this fashion.
Bidding farewell to fast fashion hence is a super impactful resolution to commit to next year. You save the environment, improve working conditions for people all across the globe – and you save yourself the hassle of having to buy new stuff every other week.
Again – a win-win-win resolution, don’t you think?
How to turn your clever resolution to say farewell to fast fashion into reality
Bidding farewell to fast fashion is a lot easier than you think. Because you still can buy stuff – just make sure it’s second hand.
There are loads of apps to find cool, used clothes – plus of course various high-street shops, where earnings often support a good cause.
You could also start a quarterly clothes-swap session with your friends. Or, even easier, dive into your wardrobe and discover its hidden treasures.
To turn a fast-fashion addict into a slow-fashion superstar, consider the following steps as your New Year’s resolution:
a) Go 1 week per month without buying anything new.
b) Go 2 weeks per month without buying anything new.
c) Don’t buy any new stuff (except for maybe underwear).
If in case a) or b) you do buy new stuff, make sure it is ethically and eco-friendly produced. Also, think about buying it for at least one week. If you still want it after that one week, chances are you’ll also wear it long enough to make it slow fashion.
Sustainable New Year’s Resolution #6: Stick to your shopping list
Similar to fashion, there are a lot of other things we often buy and rarely need. That includes everything from electronics to household goods, from snacks to software.
To counter this movement, commit to only buy stuff that has been on your shopping list for a while already. That offers you time to think about whether this purchase is truly needed or not.
Great side effect: Only purchasing stuff that’s been on your shopping list for a while saves you lots of money.
How to turn your smart resolution to stick to your shopping list into reality
Of course, the very first thing you need for this smart resolution is a shopping list. If you don’t have one yet, download a suitable app such as Listonic.
And then: Use it. Create separate lists e.g. for food, electronics, household goods etc. Whenever you think you need something, write it on the list. If the next time you look at the list you changed your mind, delete it.
If it’s still there after the timeframe you’ve given yourself, feel free to purchase it. Ideally, go check some secondhand sources like eBay or Craigslist – most of the time you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Potential timeframes are:
a) 1 day
b) 1 week
c) 1 month
You’ll quickly realize that most purchases we make are impulse purchases – and we definitely don’t need those things if we think about them for a bit.
And hey, while you’re at it: Why not invest half of the money you save into planting trees? That makes it 50% more money in your pocket plus the great feeling of having done a ton of good deeds. In?
Green New Year’s Resolution #7: A Climate-Cool Commute
2020 has shown us that home office is indeed an acceptable solution in many cases. However, it doesn’t work in all situations – and we don’t know whether your employer will allow home office in the future or not.
So let’s think about eco-friendly ways to commute to work. If the climate is cool with the way you commute, you’re doing it right.
If not, commit to this green New Year’s resolution to get on the right track.
How to turn your sustainable resolution to commute more eco-friendly into reality
You already know that taking public transport, carpooling or riding a bike to work is much more environmentally friendly than if every employee used their own car.
Now let’s turn that knowledge into practice. Commit to commute more eco-friendly
a) 1 day per week
b) 3 days per week
c) Every day
And hey, once again: This New Year’s resolution doesn’t just have a climate-positive impact, but also saves you cash money. What’s not to like?
Meaningful New Year’s Resolution #8: Carry reusables
Make an impact next year by carrying reusables with you: A reusable coffee mug, a cotton shopping bag, a stainless-steel water bottle, your own Tupperware lunch box, a reusable face mask… whatever it is, all these reusable items save a lot of trash from becoming trash in the first place.
And the impact doesn’t stop there: If you select a cool reusable item, other people will want to have it, too – and with very little effort you saved a lot of litter from going to landfill. High-five to you!
How to turn your green resolution to carry reusables into reality
Of course, the first thing you’d need for this are reusables. But maybe you already have a cotton bag? Or know a friend you might borrow you a reusable lunch box long-term?
In case you opt for a new purchase: Own your reusable. Make sure it looks cool and stylish, and feel free to print your own personal message or a family image on it. The more you love it, the more you’ll love carrying it around – and the more you’ll love talking about it to other people.
It all adds up. So if you do buy new, make sure the purchase is worth it.
Once you’re all set, start to carry our reusables
a) Once a week
b) 3 days per week
c) Every day of the week
And, if you’d like to go one step further: Share an image of your reusables on Instagram. Tag us to let us know that we helped to inspire you – and we’ll gladly share your story if you like.
Impactful New Year’s Resolution #9: Send emails
Yes, it’s true: Simply sending emails can make quite an impact – hence it’s the perfect green resolution for everyone spending a lot of time in front of a screen. Does that sound like you?
Well then, the only thing to bear in mind is that it’s not just any kind of email.
Send emails to your favorite companies, thanking them for the great work they do. And send emails to companies that aren’t quite great yet, and offer some actionable suggestions how they can improve.
You as potential client have all the power. If you suggest to a company that you’d prefer them to go plastic-free, cut their emissions or to plant trees for every purchase you make, they soon will. That’s how our capitalistic system works.
How to turn your meaningful resolution to send valuable emails into reality
Of course, most impactful are those emails with actionable suggestions. Praising companies for what they’re doing right is great – yet offering a tip or two what they could do even better is best.
Need inspiration? Feel free to suggest any of these impactful New Year’s resolutions to the company of your choice. If you as private person can do it, they as company wanting your money should be able to do it as well.
As for the frequency, how about committing to
a) 1 email per week
b) 3 emails per week
c) 5 emails per week
If you think about it: Researching an email address takes about one minute.
If you send similar emails to each company, and use a template (copy + paste) for it, personalizing each email takes another minute.
Even if you took four minutes to write that email, it’ll only add up to 5 minutes in total from start to finish. That’s less than half an hour per week to achieve Gold Standard in this meaningful New Year’s resolution.
Think you can spare 30 minutes per week to help make our planet a better place?
Meaningful New Year’s Resolution #10: Reduce single-use plastic
Single-use plastic is a nightmare for our planet in way too many ways: The raw materials used and the emissions produced during production as well as its longevity all stand in absolutely no relation to its usage duration. (Which, in the case of e.g. plastic bags or plastic straws, are a few minutes only.)
Commit to using less single-use plastic in 2021. It mostly saves our planet, but it also saves you cash money in a variety of ways.
Aside from not having to pay for plastic bags at the supermarket anymore, you’ll also profit from this impactful New Year’s resolution by buying less unhealthy food such as crisps or chocolate bars. These are all wrapped in single-use plastic. They’re bad for the planet – and not exactly healthy for you, either.
Reducing single-use plastic is a win-win resolution!
How to turn your green resolution to use less single-use plastic into reality
No matter where on your zero-waste journey you currently are, there’s always a next step you can take.
How about one of these three to reduce your single-use plastic litter:
a) Start single-use-plastic-free Fridays. Don’t purchase any single-use plastic on Fridays. (Ideally, don’t buy those crisps on Thursday to then eat them on Friday, either.)
b) Decrease your single-use plastic litter by 5% month on month. It sounds ridiculously easy to begin with – because it is. But it gets more challenging month by month, and you get better at using less single-use plastic as time goes by.
c) Decrease single-use plastic litter by 10% month on month. If your plastic bin is full after e.g. 10 days at the moment, commit to make it last 11 days next month. It’s that simple.
Of course, the master discipline would be aiming for zero waste. But since no one is born a master, start with one single next step.
Related Articles: Looking for an adventure this winter? Check out these 10 eco-friendly and fun winter activities.
Altruistic New Year’s Resolution #11: Dedicate time to a worthy cause
There are tons of worthy causes. And there are tons of hours we all waste binge-watching Netflix, taking yet another nap or playing computer games.
We’re not saying to cut out all leisure activities. But how about dedicating a tiny bit of your valuable time to a worthy cause?
How to turn your impactful resolution to dedicate time to a worthy cause into reality
Step 1: Find a worthy cause you’d like to dedicate your time to. You could join a local organization, help your neighbors, promote Click A Tree on social media or do anything else that you opine “worthy”.
Step 2: Do it.
Besides doing good, you’ll also learn new things and meet a lot of cool people.
a) 30 minutes per week
b) 1 hour per week
c) 30 minutes per day
Remember: Every little bit helps. There’s no too little – and no too much.
Related Articles: The Twentrees: The Decade That Saves Our Lives
What will your meaningful New Year’s resolution be this year?
Which resolution are you committing to this year? And: Did we forget to list anything that you’d like to share?
Drop us a comment below! We’re looking forward to hearing from you.
Oh, and: Should you know a few people who need inspiration: Feel free to share this article via Social Media, WhatsApp, or email. The more people choose a truly impactful New Year’s resolution this year, the bigger the overall impact. Win-win, right?
Thank you for being awesome – keep that up!