Sustainable Goals for 2021

It’s become such a cliche to set goals or have a new year’s resolution. It’s true that goals aren’t for everyone and that you should be realistic with what you can expect from yourself without underestimating your abilities. I have a habit at work that I stick to though; every morning I write down what I’m going to achieve that day and use it as a guide to keep me focussed and productive. Now that I’m furloughed for a little while, I’ve started to do that for my personal life to keep me entertained and to stop me annoying my boyfriend too much while he works hard on his PhD.

Aside from my personal goals, I have many sustainable goals that I want to achieve in 2021. They are a natural move forward from what I’ve already achieved in 2021 and so I’m not being unrealistic with what I can achieve with my budget and time. Below are four categories that matter to me most at the moment; Clothes, Food, Beauty and then the rest fit into Miscellaneous.

Fast fashion is my worst nightmare. I’ve never been into trends; trends are the equivalent of someone else deciding what you should be wearing so that you buy their clothes. On the flipside, I love clothes and I have lots of them that make me feel good about my body (see Styling for my Spine). Last year I bought five brand new pieces of clothing, the rest were from charity shops both physical and online and I only bought a few pieces. My clothes goals are:

  1. Buy fewer clothes. My wardrobe and my boyfriend can’t take anymore, I have an outfit for any occasion and that should be enough.
  2. If I do end up wanting a new piece I MUST buy it second hand or make it myself.
    • The close of charity shops during the lockdowns meant that I could no longer just browse second hand clothing as I had been accustomed to doing. I quickly found a solution in the form of online second hand clothing shops! My favourites are Thrift+ and Re-Fashion. They were my go-to when I demoted my battered Sketchers to cycling machine only and I quickly found a pair that I liked that have turned out to be very comfy!
    • I was recently gifted my grandma’s sewing machine and quickly put it to work making a tablecloth from a pair of old curtains. Now I can’t wait to make at least one piece of clothing which is shaping up to be a playsuit!
  3. Make do and mend! I’ve been mending mine and my boyfriend’s clothes for years using simple hand stitching techniques and it has honestly been a saviour for much loved pieces that have worn away. Not everything can be saved, but I look forward to saving more with my sewing machine!
  4. Creative re-styling. The root of my clothes consumption is essentially boredom; I get bored seeing the same clothes and often think “if I just had this it would give me more options”. Essentially this is just an empty excuse to consume when I could be breathing new life into my clothes by styling them differently using ideas from somewhere like Pinterest!

I am as far from a beauty guru as you can get- I don’t wear makeup unless there’s a party (which there never is nowadays) and my skincare routine consists of washing my face with a bar of soap then moisturising (this has served me well for the last 25 years). The theme below is money; I’ve come across a lot of brands like Faith in Nature and Lush that provide beautiful eco cosmetics, but the price is just too much for me. There are other parts of my beauty that I can make more sustainable though:

  1. Find affordable re-fill companies for my shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Affordable being the key word. Yes, I should be using a shampoo bar, but for some reason it just didn’t work out for me; in the summer I tried one from Lush and although it smelt divine the formula wasn’t right for my hair and I didn’t want to spend more money trying the plethora of different types they had (I was at risk of redundancy at the time). Perhaps this year I will crack the shampoo bar code, but for now I’ve been using a combined shampoo and conditioner to cut down on packaging while I figure it out!
  2. Use the products I have before buying more. Funnily enough, this epiphany only occurred to me while watching a Sedona Christina video where she was documenting part of her low waste journey. The simple sentiment of using what you have just clicked in my head and I lost the desire to consume products altogether.
  3. DIY beauty products. I recently invested in Simple Sustainable’s new book about DIY sustainable beauty as it’s long been a dream of mine to make my own products and finally make use of all those jars I’ve saved! I really can’t wait for it to be shipped to me in April as she’s put so much hard work into the book and documented the process on Instagram.
  4. I MUST find a plastic free moisturiser. Last year before I ran out of my favourite moisturiser, I was researching plastic free alternatives thanks to Olio‘s sustainable goals in their app. The bottom line was I didn’t know enough about the brand, the consistency of the product and they all seemed horrendously expensive! Maybe being brought up by Yorkshire parents has made me more cautious with my money than the average human, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a product that isn’t going to be right for my skin. I’ve also been using the same brand of Olay moisturiser for over 10 years and it’s hard to break away from a brand that you like.

I hate food waste. So much. Luckily my council takes away any food waste for composting and as a household we produce very little of it. I was also pulled into the concept of Loopstore who promised a new approach to online food shopping that sounded like something out of the future. When it launched, I went to browse their products and was stunned by the prices- they were the most expensive service and instantly regretted recommending them to my Yorkshire family without prior research! Despite this, I still have some things that I want to do:

  1. Buy less packaged fruit and veg. I became lazy at the end of 2020 and instead of doing the bulk of my shopping in Aldi, then going to Tesco for loose fruit and veg, I bought everything in Aldi, packaging and all. I was doing really well at zero waste fresh produce before Christmas, but the queues and they mayhem of shops during the festive period broke me and Aldi was (surprisingly) the least faff. This year I want to change that and endeavour to shop for loose fruit and veg when I can.
  2. Use butchers in my area. This was inspired by a fantastic butcher’s shop located in Essex called Swiss Farm and I’ve not been able to find anywhere in my area that compares to their prices and selection of meat. My mum used to buy from a company called Farmer’s choice in Hampshire and although she no longer uses them, I need to find a similar service where I live now. As you can probably tell, I am not going vegan any time soon.
  3. Grow herbs. Tis not yet the season to grown herbs outside, but before we moved house last year we had great plans to utilise the garden for growing our own food. These plans are still in place, I just need to acquire some pots, soil (our garden is AstroTurf and we rent) and seeds to be on my merry way.

These points aren’t big enough for a category of their own, but are still important to me.

  1. Check second hand websites and shops for everything. Moving from a furnished, one bedroom flat to an unfurnished two bedroom house was a big step, but it was made easier by the plethora of second hand goods we found on Olio, Facebook marketplace and Gumtree. We have acquired a sofa set, TV stand, cycling machine, lamps, computer monitor, curtains, storage boxes and kitchen island from British Heart Foundation, Gumtree, Facebook marketplace, Olio and our local charity furniture shops. I recently tried to find a second hand bucket before I bought one new, but it seems some things are too useful to sell!
  2. Make DIY cleaning products or buy zero waste. I was inspired by an Olio sustainable goal and bought apple cider vinegar from my local zero waste shop, but as of yet I’ve not got round to using it! I also made a switch to using compostable washing up sponges and brushes as well as cutting out kitchen roll completely for the last 3 years! I love to cut up old socks to make reusable cleaning cloths that are great for dusting and wiping up spills!
  3. Buy from small businesses whenever possible. There are some instances when Amazon is useful, but I managed to buy all my Christmas presents and all the materials I need for upcycling a table from small sustainable businesses on Etsy! It’s a great resource and I’ve found that it’s not much more expensive than Amazon in some cases.

So that wraps up my list of sustainable goals for 2021. It’s a lot, but is very personal to my own low waste goals. The things above are what I keep in my head every time I buy something and it’s served me well for the past few years. Of course, I’m not perfect and slip up occasionally, but being low waste imperfectly is better than not doing it at all.

I’d love to hear your goals and suggestions for sustainable products that I’ve struggled to find!

I follow a lot of environmental/ sustainable Youtube and Instagram accounts, but here are my top 5 who have influenced and guided me most over the past few years:

This post is also available as an infographic.

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