If you’re finding it a little hard to be optimistic about the new year, you’re not alone. The world’s a bit of a mess at the moment. Climate change was hard to ignore in the Northwest in 2021, driving record-breaking heat, flooding, and bitter cold. More and more of us are seeing the changes scientists have long warned us about unfold right outside our doors. At the same time, we’re seeing iconic Northwest lands, waters and wildlife slipping away, succumbing to decades of pollution and degradation. It can feel paralyzing to know that such big problems are out there. Here’s the good news: None of us have to solve these crises alone. Each of us can do something, and there’s more than one place to start. That’s why we’re offering 5 easy-to-keep New Year’s resolutions that will make you a happier person, while making our region a better place to live at the same time.
1. Get outside more
Science tells us that getting outside more can increase health and happiness, and it can also help us do local science! You can sign up to become a North Sound Steward and contribute important data to local marine conservation efforts, all while lowering your blood pressure and boosting your vitamin D intake. Whether surveying tide pools, scanning for invasive green crabs, or studying kelp forests via kayak, there’s no shortage of opportunities to help make a difference for the Salish Sea. You may just unearth a life-long passion for community science.
2. Contact a local decision-maker
Here’s a resolution that might sound terrifying (especially if you hate public speaking or talking on the phone), but that is actually way easier than you think. Simply sign up for our email list and opt to get our Action Alerts. We’ll let you know when our local, regional or state lawmakers and officials are making decisions that could impact your life, your community, or the lands and waters you care about. In many cases, we’ll draft an email for you and make it easy to send in with just a few clicks (although we encourage you to share your own words if you’re so inspired). Then, you get to sit back and know that you took part in this beautiful, messy experiment we call the democratic process. We can’t emphasize this enough — the more we let our lawmakers know we care about climate change and the environment, the more likely they are to act.
3. Get more informed
Education is core to what we do at RE Sources. Whether you’re a student, an educator, or just someone who wants to know more about the world around them, signing up for The Barnacle, RE Sources’ monthly e-newsletter that covers local environment and climate issues, is an easy first step. Want to know about local climate action specifically? Check out our Climate-Resilient NW Washington Story Map and sign up to join our virtual (and hopefully in-person come spring) climate activist meetings. Our Sustainable Schools program also offers a suite of online lessons, as well as a toolkit for helping make your local schools more sustainable.
4. Meet new people
Making friends was hard enough before COVID. Whether you’re new to town, or you’re just looking to mix things up, consider signing up to volunteer at one of RE Sources’ beach or river clean-ups. Bring the family or a friend, or come solo. Who knows, you might make a new friend who shares your interests in getting outside and improving your community. Nothing feels quite like leaving a place better than you found it. If you’re a teenager and you want to make some friends who are also passionate about climate action and climate justice, sign up for our Youth for the Environment and People (YEP!) program.
5. De-clutter your life
Is your home starting to feel a little cramped and messy after a week of being snowed in? Improve your mood by tidying up your space. Give some of your extra furniture a second (or third or fourth) life by donating it to the RE Store. Study up on some tips for reducing waste during the holidays. As a bonus: Resolve to cut down on the waste you generate moving forward. Shop local and shop used. Better yet, do both simultaneously at the RE Store.
Will keeping these resolutions result in you single-handedly solving the climate crises? No. Are they going to give you six-pack abs, make you filthy rich, or help you finally learn how to play the guitar? Also no (well, probably not). But they will make a difference, we promise. There’s a strong chance you’ll end up happier, healthier and better connected to your community and the places you call home. Just as climate anxiety can snowball into something bigger, so can climate hope. The best way to get that ball rolling is to start with one simple action. So take the plunge! Join the RE Sources community of 15,000+ change-makers across Northwest Washington. We’ve got big plans for 2022 and we need your help.
Photo by Buff Black