Six Environmental Change-Makers Share Their New Year's "Evolutions"

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. From eating healthier to reading more books, or saving money, the resolutions we set for our selves, are for the most part - just that - for our selves.

Here at The Swag, we wonder, if the personal resolutions we set for ourselves were to serve a bigger purpose (in the long run) than just our own individual betterment, where our personal input aims to create meaningful impact for the future of not only ourselves but our communities and the environment too - would we be more inclined to keep them, and in turn, move from resolving to evolving?

Because if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that now is the time for conscious leadership, meaningful and regenerative change, not just at an individual level but as a collective. 

Whether you’re one of the 80% who give up on your resolutions by February, or you’re still trying to find one that feels right for you, we thought who better to be guided by, than some of the legends and leaders in the sustainability space, already doing it?

So to help us with some inspiration, some motivation and just them gooood feels we’re all needing after 2020, we asked six of our favourite earth loving warriors the "evolutions" they're working towards to create a better world for 2021. 

Navigating slow transformations: Sara Rickards

2021 will be a new “now” way of being for me - a way that’s more present and in line with the flows of nature - because I too am nature. To me that means being emergent with what is required of me in the contexts I find myself in, to listen to my intuition more and to think more with my heart than my mind.

 I’ve been playing with the concept of what it means to be a good ancestor of late - and how I show up each day, curious and with compassion as we navigate these complex times. 

 I’m slowly realising that for me that means being more patient, to slow down and stop pushing things uphill - and instead to flow more like a natural stream meandering down a river bed - in awe of the places I go and how those places will transform me, as I simultaneously transform them.

Sara is a regenerative designer working for our shared mum. She is an advisor, storyteller, consultant and alchemist who works with purpose driven individuals and organisations to co-create the future our hearts know is possible. After training as both a Biomedical Scientist & Environmental Engineer Sara went on to become Education For Sustainability Manager at Macquarie University, a TEDx speaker, Co-host for the Un-School of Disruptive Design, Program Manager for The Centre of Sustainability Leadership and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Follow Sara @sararickards.co

Creating resilient communities: Lindsay Miles

Lindsay Miles

Rather than make a New Year's Resolution, I like to set an intention for the year - something I can work towards over the next 12 months. I like the flexibility of this approach, and there's no feeling like I've 'failed' when I haven't hit a 'goal' by the third week of January! 

This year I'm focussed on connecting more with my community. After the year we just had I appreciate more than ever the need for local community connections - to share skills, resources and food, to provide friendship and support, increase equity, and to make the places we live better and more enjoyable. Resilient communities are the ones more able to adapt and survive the curveballs that life throws our way.

Lindsay is an educator, speaker, author and passionate zero waste/plastic-free living advocate helping others live more meaningful lives with less waste and less stuff. She has been sharing ideas, tips, tricks and strategies on her website Treading My Own Path since 2013. Her first book, Less Stuff, was published in 2019 and her second, The Less Waste No Fuss Kitchen was published in June 2020. Originally from the UK, Lindsay now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Follow Lindsay @treadingmyownpath

Leading businesses through change: Emily Fletcher (right) & Emma Freeman (left)

Emily Fletcher & Emma Freeman

In 2021, we plan to expand the sustainability side of the Australian Non-Toxic Awards by improving the way we run our own business as well as focusing on how we can educate brands on how to become more sustainable.

Whilst we’ve become an authority on the subject of non-toxic ingredients and materials, we are also deeply committed to waste reduction and sustainability. A lot of the waste involved in the Awards comes from the packaging of the products sent for review, and so we plan to provide much stronger guidelines to brands on what to use in regard to their postal packaging. We hope this leads to conversations and, ultimately, change.

Additionally, we are looking into initiatives to support in 2021 that are aligned with our sustainability goals.

Emily is the founder and the head of Research & Education of Australian Non-Toxic Awards and Emma is the head of Content & Communications of Australian Non-Toxic Awards.

Follow Emily @mynontoxictribe

Follow Emma @the_tealady

Fighting food waste from home-to-hospitality: Bianca Smith

Bianca Smith

As we enter each new year, I have always felt invigorated to set a new focus on my sustainability goals for the months ahead. I love to learn about all aspects of sustainability and then use social media to gently encourage others to take action and adopt sustainable habits.

In 2019, my focus was heavily on reducing plastic waste and using reusable items where possible. In 2020, I made a commitment to learn about clothing waste and my mum and I set a goal to not purchase any new items of clothing. Fast forward 12 months and I have worn pre-loved clothes all year. For 2021, my New Year's goal is to minimise food waste. Food waste equates to almost a quarter of global emissions and I was shocked to learn that one third of all food produced ends up in the bin.

I endeavour to continue adding small, gradual changes into my habits throughout the year. My focus will be cutting down on takeaway and packaged food, starting a compost bin, learning about produce and shopping locally more often. I hope to do this at a household level and then learn more so I can implement habits at the restaurant I work at."

Bianca is a self-proclaimed “waste nerd” who uses social media as a hub to share all things environmental, thrifting and sustainable. When looking for inspiration on how to start her less-waste journey, Bianca saw that it was hard to find environmental tips that related to her hometown, Canberra. This motivated her to create her own Instagram page @cbrwastegurl. She enjoys highlighting awesome environmental initiatives (locally and globally) as well encouraging sustainable habits through the use of inspiring quotes and the odd meme or two. Bianca also creates infographics that are locally relevant to Canberra which share tips on how to reduce ones impact on the environment at an individual and household level. 

Follow Bianca @cbrwastegurl

Guided by the garden: Liv Kaplan

Liv Kaplan

This year I'm going to be developing my green thumbs in a few ways. Firstly, I'm going to start composting! I've always avoided this due to living in an apartment, but I'm determined to make it work.

Ultimately I believe this will reduce my overall waste, as most of my vegetable scraps can be composted instead of going to landfill (where the scraps can't be broken down because the plastic starves them of oxygen). I'll also be starting to grow some of my own herbs. I use herbs a lot in my cooking, they can elevate any dish and add some delicious freshness, and I'm looking forward to finally using some of my own homegrown veggies!

Liv is an Australian nutritionist (BSc Human Nutrition & Genetics), specialising in sugar-free and gut-friendly food. With an approach like no other, focusing on real food over products, Liv’s ideas and knowledge cut through the noise, helping you understand food and wellness in a way you’ve never thought of before. With a focus on lifestyle, Liv’s teachings allow for transformational changes with the ease and flow of life that can be implemented no matter your schedule or commitments.

Follow @liv.kaplan