Without doubt, a number of themes will come into focus this year for sustainability. For many of us, the recent COVID-19 pandemic is front of mind, as a force that brought about innovation for environmental and economic sustainability throughout 2020. It has inspired a vision for ‘a new normal’ and forced us to rethink our way of life. This is no doubt a significant theme to walk into the new year with, and it will likely continue to permeate through the sustainability discussion in 2021 and beyond.
The United Nations is another significant point of influence in the global sustainability discussion that will help to make a mark on the year ahead. Let’s look at a couple of the themes they are bringing into focus this year…
2021 marks the first year in the Decade of Action
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals set to drive change across areas of poverty, inequality, injustice and climate change by 2030. so 2021 marks the first year in the Decade of Action for the goals.
Starting your Decade of Action
If you’re someone who has been meaning to adopt more sustainable habits in your lifestyle, family, school or workplace – well, this is the year (and decade) to do it! As the United Nations, governments and industry step into action this year, we too can all individually incite more tangible change in our lifestyles, remembering that no change is too small to make a difference. One of our favourite quotes is well remembered here: ‘Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can’ – Arthur Ashe.
Check out a list of small changes that can help bring more action for sustainability into your 2021!
• Eat less meat – Hint: if this is a hard one for you or your family, try starting small with simply one meat-free day a week (Meat-free Monday anyone?)
• Bring your own mug – If you haven’t already swapped out the single use coffee or smoothie cup then 2021 is your year! We know you can do it! In case you need more incentive, most coffee shops will give you a discount for this practice too!
• Switch to solid shampoo and conditioner – solid shampoos and conditioners have come along way in the last few years. You’ll find they last you a long time saving you packaging and money in the long run. If you’re based in Australia, a good place to start would be Biome, Seed & Sprout or Ethique.
• Reduce, reuse, recycle – an oldie but a goldie – this mantra is so important if you want to reduce your ecological footprint, especially since an estimated 40% of all waste in Australia is sent straight to landfill!
• Unplug your power cords at the wall – standby power is no joke and switching appliances off at the wall is another practice that will save energy and money in your 2021.
• Take shorter showers – fresh water conservation is an important practice, especially since less than 1% of the worlds’ water is both fresh and accessible drinking water (to share with 7.5 billion of us!)
• Wash clothes in cold water – it’s estimated that between 70-90% of the energy your washing machine uses is in heating up the water alone… this hack saves you money on your bill and save the planet energy!
• Compost, compost, compost – If you’re not already composting in your home, school or workplace then this is a fantastic place to start. Especially since the organic waste we compost promotes healthy soil and microbes, whereas organic waste sent to landfill actually releases methane and contributes more to the problem!
But that’s not all for 2021…
International Year of Fruits and Vegetables
The UN General Assembly has also designated 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, with The Food & Agriculture Organization as the lead agency for the year. This campaign will bring into focus health and nutritional benefits of a balanced diet, but also it will look closely at sustainability themes like:
• Reducing losses and waste in fruits and vegetables food systems;
• Promoting the consumption and sustainable production of fruits and vegetables that contributes to sustainable food systems;
• Improved sustainability of storage, transport, trade, processing, transformation, retail, waste reduction and recycling, as well as interactions among these processes;
• Integration of smallholders including family farmers into local, regional, and global production, value/supply chains for sustainable production and consumption of fruits and vegetables, recognizing the contributions of fruits and vegetables, including farmers’ varieties/landraces, to their food security, nutrition, livelihoods and incomes;
• Strengthening the capacity of all countries, specially developing countries, to adopt innovative approaches and technology in combating loss and waste of fruits and vegetables.
With such important themes being brought into focus in 2021, we are already so excited to get started with you!