Well it’s 2016 – time to take down the Christmas bling and look forward to the year ahead. It feels cleansing somehow to remove the tree and decorations – everything seems cleaner and more spacious! It’s actually a great time for a declutter…… right now in our house there’s a pile of toys, books and children’s clothes which can look forward to the loving arms of new owners.

10906409_648365115268425_6133331861093397846_n‘What about New Year’s Resolutions?’ I hear you say. ‘Everyone is posting about those at the moment…. ‘ , well in our house we start by making a ‘gratitude’ list.  This can be quite eye opening as often the event or gift that cost most in terms of money or effort (a holiday, say), earns less gratitude than something that you thought was quite trivial (a pack of Match Attax cards….)!  We then discuss what we’d like for the next year. These ideas can be as big as you like – the bigger the better (though I’m still not sure about the plan to blast off into space).   We also talk about things we’d like to do better. This year we have two new goals – both driven by the kids.  They noticed that at Granny and Grandpa’s house the inner packaging for cereal boxes (in fact all cellophane) could go in the recycling bin whereas where we live it still goes into landfill. We now have a bin bag just for cellophane which will go in the Grandparents’ bin when we visit (lucky them – still it’s better than dirty washing….). We also have a ‘light tally’ set up by my 8 year old. If a light is left on in a room with no one in it then he adds a tally to his tally chart (one for each room!). This is already producing results as no one wants a telling off from a righteous 8 year old!!!

It’s important to have personal and business goals too. I’m not a fan of measured goals or SMART objectives, preferring mine to be big and blowsy and unmeasurable! I like to be heading in a particular direction with a desired outcome in mind.   For example my health goal is to do lots of home cooking using organic ingredients and to exercise regularly – for me promising myself to run 5 miles every day is setting myself up for failure and disappointed feelings which don’t help anyone. One step in the right direction with pride is better than 10 bags of shame.

There are many areas in our lives where we can set the direction to live more ethically:

1375009_10151959939521742_1189082618_nFood shopping – rather than promising yourself you will only eat organic and no processed food, why not set up weekly organic vegetable box delivery and see how you get on? The goodies that arrive will probably inspire you to cook something up and the lovely soups you can make with what’s left at the end of the week will not only be healthy and delicious but you’ll also find you need to go to the supermarket less often. (kerching, money saving!)

Reduce, reuse, recycle – Decluttering is very therapeutic! We just don’t need all the ‘stuff’ we have. But what to do with the piles of unwanted items? Well they’ve been cluttering up your house for long enough so they don’t need to be gone immediately, however good it might make you feel! Set yourself a project to find new homes for what you don’t need any more. Sites such as Ebay and Preloved ensure your no-longer-loved bits and bobs are taken over by people who actually want them. Plus it means a bit more cash in your pocket too (kerching again!).  If you don’t fancy selling things then give them to friends, the charity shop or find a site such as Freecycle that will let you pass them on for free. This morning I spotted a small boy (the son of a friend) wearing a jumper that used to belong to my son – it gave me a glow of pleasure to see it again and brought back fond memories (soppy…).

fast fashionClothes Shopping – As you’ll know if you’ve read my articles before, I can talk about this one for a lllllooooooonnnnnnggggg time. But I promise I won’t this time. However if this is your start of a more ethical wardrobe then it’s pretty simple. Love your clothes. If you have items you just don’t like that much then you just won’t wear them that much. Perhaps you could make them more lovable with a bit of up-cycling? Perhaps someone else would give them the love they deserve? Don’t just keep them hanging in the back of the wardrobe. If you need to buy something new (or you just want to!) then look into where you are buying it from. There are plenty of ethical clothing retailers these days (Where Does It Come From? being one of these!) – check out Ethical Consumer for a starting point. Many mainstream clothing retailers are working hard to make their supply chains more transparent and ethical too, but don’t be afraid to ask the questions – Where was this made? Who made it? Was any child labour or slave labour used in its production? What is it made of? Is it organic? I could go on and on (but I promised….). The simple shopping guide must be ‘buy less, choose wisely’ which sums it all up really.

So….. Is it ‘off with the old and on with the new’ for 2016?

In terms of products I would say best not. This is not a time for filling landfill and then heading for the shops to restock in the January Sales. However if ‘On with the new’ means new, more ethical life choices and not just an excuse for more clutter then I’m all for it!