Planting Seeds for New Beginnings in 2022

by Natalie Bencivenga


January 12, 2022

With the holiday season behind us, it can feel daunting and overwhelming to set new goals in the new year. In fact, there has been a backlash in recent years about New Year resolutions and why people can’t seem to commit to them. Setting up unrealistic goals with a short timeline can be a great way to give up three weeks into 2022. Instead, let’s focus on small, sustainable changes that are good for you and for the environment.  

What are three things that you want to focus on improving this year? What are some good things that you felt confident about in 2021 that you would like to hold on to in the new year? 

Let’s resolve to let go of what doesn’t serve us with the same energy we put towards our evolution, as well. While you don’t have to do all of these things listed below, plant a few seeds in yourself and see what blooms in 2022. 

MEATLESS MONDAYS: For many people, the idea of going vegan overnight can not only seem impossible — but unappetizing. Instead of trying to overhaul your entire diet, why not start with small, incremental changes that can help you sustain a healthier way of living for both you and the planet. Cutting out meat one day a week is good for your overall health, as well as your wallet. The impact on the planet is major, too. Eating vegan one day a week means saving 40 lbs of grain, 1100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forest and one animal. To put it in perspective, 1100 gallons of water is equivalent to four months’ worth of showers! Now, imagine if everyone in the United States ate plants one full day a week. We would save 100 billion gallons of water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide. Pass the tofu, please! 

SHOP SECONDHAND: Thrift and vintage shops have become popular again in the past few years because millennials and Gen-Zers recognize how fast fashion is creating waste, pollution and many environmental as well as labor issues around the globe. Instead, many of them are turning to vintage shops and local second-hand stores to reclaim treasures and buy one-of-a-kind pieces. The Second Lady of Pennsylvania, Gisele Fetterman, is a huge fan of thrifting, often sharing her well-loved and worn-more-than-once pieces on social media. In fact, even her wedding gown was thrifted! 

SHOP LOCAL: Walking by a local boutique and that little black dress in the window is calling your name? Instead of shopping at big box stores, it pays to spend your dollars locally. Not only is it good for the local economy and strengthens communities, but it is also great for the environment. Less shipping, less packaging and less transporting goods across the state, country or even globe can help reduce pollution in our air and on our roads. So go on, check out your favorite new local shop! 

#BYOB (BRING YOUR OWN BAGS): Heading to the grocery store? Need to make a drugstore run? Instead of receiving fifteen plastic bags at the checkout, try bringing your own reusable bags that you can toss in your car and forget about until you need them. This is a great way to reduce our dependence on one-use plastics, and it may also encourage companies to switch to more sustainable packaging, as well. 

REST AS RESISTANCE: Our mental health is an important component to our overall sense of wellbeing. In this hyper-consumerist culture, it is easy to feel as though you need to be “busy” or “productive” at all times in order to have perceived value. Let’s flip that on its head this year. This year, we are resting. We don’t need to deserve it. We don’t need to justify it. We don’t need to create guilt around it. We just need to rest. Whether that is a half-hour bath once a week using an eco-friendly bath bomb, curling up with a cup of herbal tea and a good book, or simply laying down in the middle of the day because our bodies say it is time to rest, please treat yourself with the love and kindness you show everyone else in your life. 

STRENGTHENING OUR BONDS: The pandemic has provided space for us to reevaluate our priorities over the past two years. Who is important to you? How do you show them that they matter? Who would you like to connect more deeply with this year? While we can’t always be together as much as we should as Covid-19 rages on, we can still find ways for meaningful connection whether it be regular phone calls with our families, walks with friends, or intimate dinner gatherings in our homes. Sharing time and space with the people we love is what we are put on this earth to do. Let’s do more of it in 2022. 

BE IN NATURE: While so many people will make fitness a priority at the onset of the new year, it is important to connect the dots and recognize the spiritual power of being in nature. Reconnecting to the natural world around us can have profound positive effects on our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Instead of joining a gym this year, why not discover local parks and trails around your home? Yes, it is cold outside, so bundle up, bring a friend and take in some deep breaths while walking through the forest. It may be just what the doctor ordered.


Natalie Bencivenga is a regular columnist with The Green Voice Weekly Newsletter