My New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to do and buy less. I don’t for a second mean that I’m going to embrace a pajama-wearing, lazy life, as attractive as that sounds, I mean I’m going to adopt a minimalist mindset and in return live a happier, more ethical life … with a better bank balance!

The rise of consumerism over the last few decades has negatively impacted the global community which has, in turn, succumbed to greed, waste, and selfishness like never before. The throwaway culture in which we now live seems to have lost compassion and this, unfortunately, has had a devastating effect on the human race, animals, and the environment.

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According to Joshua Becker, founder and editor of Becoming Minimalist, distractions like the “pursuit of perfection,” the “accumulation of possessions,” and the “presence of indifference” keep us from fully living.

We are amidst an ethical revolution, however, and increasingly, as well as rather heartwarmingly, people no longer just crave more “stuff.” They want the right “stuff.” They want meaningful connections and experiences, which is a shift from the ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ nature of consumerism which dictated the last few decades. Millennials, in particular, are shunning luxury goods for sustainable ones; they prefer buying organic and fair trade and are more willing to spend money on experiences that enhance their lives (and their Instagram and Snapchat feeds, but more about that later) rather than on material things. Millennials are also proving to be cultural trailblazers for older generations, who bring with them more disposable income, as well as newer generations.

According to Edelman’s 2016 Goodpurpose Study, 68 percent of consumers say they are more likely to buy products and services from a company if they know it supports good causes. How amazing is that?

It’s so easy to be swept along by consumerism and to buy all manner of clothes, luxury items, and general throwaway stuff that we don’t need. But it’s also as easy to live a more ethical life, one that is wholesome, happy, and healthy.

So, my New Year’s resolution is to get back to basics and I would love it if you would give it a go too. Just imagine the feeling when you get to the end of January and realize that you have lived within your means and, not only have a healthier bank balance (!), but you’ll know that you have been virtuous, stood up for your beliefs, and made a difference.

Below are 5 tips to help you kick-start your New Year and embrace a kinder, more fulfilling and ethical life:

1. Eat a plant-based diet!

Choosing to eat vegan is one of the fastest growing lifestyle trends — not only can we save our beautiful animals, we can live healthier lives, dramatically reducing the risk of diseases like heart disease and cancer. Furthermore, we can begin to reverse the devastating environmental damage caused by the animal production industry. Never has there been a better time to sign up to Veganuary, it’s so easy!

2. Purchase only ethical products.

These days it’s so quick and easy to Google information about brands and to do quick checks on things like whether household or personal care products have been tested on animals. Some of my favorite brands are Method Home for cleaning the house and Neals Yard for health and beauty products.

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3. Reduce social media activity.

In the U.S., 81 percent of the population has a social media profile and, while it’s become a fantastic tool for activism and raising awareness of important issues, it’s also a huge distraction as we are bombarded by useless information and advertising, not to mention fake news and the pressure to look a certain way. The UK’s Royal Society for Public Health found that Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram all have a negative impact on health as a result of encouraging unrealistic expectations and “fear of missing out,” leading to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, particularly amongst young people.

4. Embark on a zero waste life.

Instead of continuing to add to the horrific landfill problem — just who thought that burying tonnes of dirty rubbish into our beautiful Mother Earth was a good idea I’ll never know — we can, throughout our lifetimes, make a huge difference by composting at home, using cotton produce bags to reduce grocery waste, buying a sustainable and reusable bottle for water, as well as a cup if you can’t resist those odd trips to Starbucks (whose cups can’t be recycled because of the thermal coating inside) and a variety of other simple things.

5. Support local businesses.

Let’s take control of our own economies and in doing so be safe in the knowledge that the companies we interact with have ethical supply chains. Not only do we then help to reduce our carbon footprint if we buy locally, but we empower local entrepreneurialism, strengthening our economies in the process whilst, in the case of food, guaranteeing (with a little research into local farmers’ markets and organic growers), better, safer produce.

Good luck to you and a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical New Year!

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