I know that, without fail, once January appears there’s always an influx of articles and incentives encouraging the creation of a ‘New You’ for the New Year. The majority of these seem to suggest that last year can be written off, and that a new year brings with it the chance to start afresh.
I personally don’t believe that the arrival of a New Year should be a chance to discard what’s been before. Everything that’s happened previously – and the lives of those who’ve come before us – offers a great learning experience. Surely it’s by learning from mistakes that we can avoid them in the future?
Rather than starting afresh, perhaps a New Year affords a wonderful opportunity to look at what’s gone before and to see how we can improve our decisions for the future. Perhaps rather than just the ‘all or nothing approach’ of initiatives such as Dry January and Veganuary (although these can be a great starting point), we should also be looking to take gradual steps that will make a lasting difference? Perhaps we could use these initiatives as a kick-start to long-term change?
If everyone looked to make small behavioural changes then together we could make a massive difference. Just cutting back on your meat intake by 20% or by making ethical choices about where you shop (supporting local and independent) you can help to reduce carbon emissions, food miles and create a lasting impact.
I’m pretty sure future generations will look back to where we are now in incredulation (on topics such as plastic production or battery hen farming). But looking back is a good opportunity to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again and, with social media and the internet enabling the spread of knowledge to happen at the rate of knots, there’s no excuse for not making informed decisions.
So here’s a healthy, ethical 2016 and beyond!
Laura Fanthorpe is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust.