2012 is almost over, the apocalypse didn’t come (who really expected it anyway?) and yet the 21st of december could be seen as the beginning of a new era. I don’t mean it in a weird, fanatic way, but it was a bit like the 31.12.1999 I think. What I mean is, since people always like to change things with the beginning of a new era in time, why not start changing things now? The mayan calendar thing might be a whole lot of rubbish (after all with the only recently invented leap years, it would be summer 2013 in the mayan calendar by now), but 2013 is really close, so it’s time for a few new year’s resolutions, isn’t it?
I actually changed myself and my life lot throughout 2012. I used to be your average, junk food eating, drug store product consuming, energy wasting young adult who spent way too much time on facebook. Well, not anymore.
I have to admit, I’m a quite lazy person, I’m easily getting into habits and it’s hard for me to change them. So I know how hard it can be to change your lifestyle. It just happened to me that one day I opened my eyes and saw things I hadn’t seen before. I realised that, unlike I used to believe, it does make a difference in the world if I started to care more about it. This world is a wonderful place, it is just us humans who ruin it. I came to believe that nature provides pretty much all we need. I started eating more fruit and veg, I looked at it in a whole new way, it sort of fascinated me. Meanwhile I just can’t eat hamburgers and drink coke anymore. It disgusts me to think about all the nasty things in it. I also said goodbye to a lot of the things in my bathroom.
But well, you have probably realised things need to be changed yourself if you’re still reading this. Maybe you are willing to change, but just don’t know where to start. Well, the good news is, you don’t have to change your life overnight. Changing is a process, and every process takes time. Start simple.
1. Get rid of things you don’t need.
This is optional, but it helped me a lot to get some motivation. Just take a day or two or however much time you need and go through all your things. Clothes, shoes, jewellery, books, cosmetics and whatever things you’re hoarding, I mean EVERYTHING. Get rid of everything you don’t really use or need. Just ask yourself this for every thing you’re not sure about: ‘Would I be sad if the house was on fire and this thing was gone?’ No? Bin it, give it to charity, your friends, family, neighbour, or sell it on eBay. I felt so much better after reducing my belongings. It’s like taking a shower after falling into a puddle of mud with your face down.
2. Stop wasting things!
You’ve probably heard these things a thousand times, whether it was your Mum telling you to close the fridge and not leave the whole house illuminated, or some magazine you read on the tram on a Monday morning while you were still half asleep. These things, especially if your Mum told you, might seem like annoying know-all lectures that make life harder than it is. But if you secretly know you’re wasting too much energy, water et cetera, just think for a minute and ask yourself:
Would it really kill you to…
…use a lid when boiling water in a pot? (Saves a LOT of energy!)
…switch gadgets and lights off when you don’t need them (stand-by mode doesn’t count!)?
…turn the tap off while cleaning your teeth?
…reduce your shower time by 5 minutes? (If you’re one of the people who like to take their time.)
…use reusable shopping bags?
…go to the corner shop by foot or go to work on a bike more often?
…buy paper products (tissues, toilet paper, kitchen roll, …) which are made from recycled paper?
There are so many things, you might feel overwhelmed, but start slowly. Just pick one thing at a time and focus on it. After a while, you’ll get totally used to it and you can start with the next little change.
I am also trying to save paper by using a shopping list app on my phone instead of writing shopping lists every time I go to the grocery store. As much as I doubt modern technology, there are advantages. The app I use is called ‘Simple shopping list’ (Android), but there’s like a million different ones.
3. Care about others!
Especially animals, because they don’t have a human voice. These creatures deserve to live on this planet just as much as we do and they need our protection! I’m eating much less meat by now, but if you’re a carnivore, and vegeterianism or veganism isn’t an option for you, there are other things you can do. When buying hygiene and beauty products, just check the back to see if the company is against animal testing. I used to spend a lot of money on expensive shower gels, shampoos ect. by well-known brands. But the 1£-Sainsbury’s shower gel does it’s job as well and no animals had to suffer for it. As for all the make-up stuff (boys, carry on with with step 4!), I am totally in love with natural cosmetics. Most of them are cruelty-free, they smell nice and you don’t harm your skin with chemicals. The only disadvantage is, they’re indeed quite expensive. As you probably don’t regularly want to spend a fortune on shower gel or other things that you use a lot, two tips for UK people: Products by ‘Original source’ which are vegan and sold by most of the big stores, Sainsbury’s shower gel (available for men and women) and ASDA’s ‘N-Spa’ range, they do amazing lotions and body scrubs as well.
4. Make a change and fight!
Instead of checking your ex-partners facebook profile and getting pissed, because his or her new love doesn’t look bad at all, try to change the world. Every voice counts. There are lots of petition websites like Avaaz, Greenpeace ect. where you can sign petitions to help save the planet. I assure you, this will leave a more positive feeling than stalking your ex! I actually left facebook, but that is a decision everybody has to make for themselves and I had many different reasons for that decision.
5. Love yourself!
If you don’t do already, start now! Accept yourself the way you are. You’re beautiful in every way. Go your own way, don’t follow trends and the opinions of others, because it’s YOU who lives your life and no one else.
6. Eat healthy.
Ban all the nasties from your diet. Avoid junk food. Appreciate the natural things. When you go grocery shopping, just keep in mind that nature is good. Food industry isn’t. It’s all about capitalism. Eat more fruit and veg. Cook with fresh ingredients. Choose free range eggs. Avoid bright coloured sweets with toxic colouring (check the E-numbers on the back of the package and look below for a link to a list of harmful food colourings!) Have some nuts or dried fruit instead. It will make a difference for your health, body and your life quality.
When it comes to cosmetics, I replaced a lot of crap with greener alternatives. Instead of using aluminium-containing deodorant which isn’t good for your body at all, I’m using herb-based natural deodorant now (‘The Greench’ by Lush cosmetics). I’m not using face wipes anymore to remove my make-up, but organic jojoba oil and reusable cotton pads. The oil moisturizes your skin, which is especially good for dry skin types. You can also use olive oil. For oilier skin types, there are tons of oil-free facial cleansers (based on rosewater for example) and the best thing is, you can easily make them at home. Homemade natural cosmetics are something I have a big soft spot for anyway and there’s already a big folder with recipe links in my bookmarks, so I’m definitely going to make some soon.
I don’t like blogs with highlighted links all over the text, it looks so much like advertising and it can be quite annoying. For that reason, I put some links right here at the bottom, so those of you who are interested can check them out.
Lots of helpful tips on how to live a greener life: http://www.justlivegreener.com
Tons of recipes for homemade cosmetics: http://www.makeyourcosmetics.com/recipes/ag.asp
List of harmful food colourings: http://www.dflock.co.uk/colitis/foods/enumbers.html
Save the world! (Petition websites):