Manitoba

Non-profits challenge Manitobans to make new year's resolutions for the planet

If you're feeling that familiar push to improve yourself in the new year, why not resolve to do more for the environment?

6 groups offer resolution ideas to protect environment, stay active in 2017

A Rocha Pembina Valley Interpretive Centre and Fort Whyte Alive both prescribe a healthy dose of fresh air and outdoors activity for the new year. (Manitoba Parks/@MBGovParks)

The spike in gym-membership subscriptions. The overly optimistic goal-setting. New year's resolution season is just about here.

As the ritualistic exercise in futility nears, Nature Manitoba and five other non-profits want people to thoughtfully consider what sustainable steps they can take in 2017 to help themselves while helping the environment and local community.

Stand up for something

Nature Manitoba recommends shifting the cliched new year's resolution mindset away from the narrowly personal and toward something bigger than you.

"There are so many environmental concerns out there and we are constantly immersed in them via social media. That can be really overwhelming for people. Focusing your energy on one cause or place makes it easier to have a real impact and can help alleviate some of that pressure to do it all," Nature Manitoba spokesperson Lynsay Perkins said.

If you're looking for a way to wedge a little environmental or community activism into your year, websites such as the Manitoba EcoNetwork and Canadian CED Network provide lists of organizations in need of volunteers.

Slow your fashion

The Green Action Centre, a non-profit that works to promote more sustainable practices, wants Manitobans to take up slow or minimal fashion.

"The fashion industry has huge environmental impacts and requires constant buy in from the consumer to maintain annual profits, building a culture of 'new' and 'old' fashions to encourage constant turnover," said Justin Quigley, communications co-ordinator with the centre. 

"Slow or minimal fashion looks to challenge this trend by engaging with consumers to look to own things that are durable, practical, beautiful and more sustainable ... save people money, time and help them shift away from our consumer-driven culture."

Project 333 is a lifehack that can help you become more aware of the dollars you spend chasing the latest fashion trends. It challenges people to rely on wearing just 33 items of clothing for three months.

"Interestingly, some are noting that by limiting clothing options, they are actually reducing some daily stress," Quigley said.

Get outdoors, visit parks

A Rocha Pembina Valley Interpretive Centre and Fort Whyte Alive both prescribe a healthy dose of fresh air for the new year.

A Rocha is challenging Manitobans to visit a park or green space in each of the four seasons of the year.

"It comes down to this quote by Richard Louv: 'We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see. Or hear. Or sense,'" said Jamie Fox, director of the A Rocha Pembina Valley Interpretive Centre.

"Visiting and becoming familiar with a place throughout the seasons builds familiarity with that place and the will to protect it. Possibly this desire to protect your green space can even be extended to other green spaces and the world."

Meanwhile Fort Whyte Alive is challenging Manitobans to get outside and commune with nature in some way every single day of 2017.

"There's an increasing disconnect between people, especially children, and the natural environment. At Fort Whyte our mission is to bring people into contact with the natural environment to be inspired, educated and active," said Jackie Avent, sustainability director at Fort Whyte.

And if you're going to commit to experiencing nature in some way every day, that means every day — rain, snow, sleet or shine, Avent said.

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing," she said, adding people should get out skiing, snowshoeing or skating to truly embrace the winter weather.

The happy byproduct of staying active outdoors everyday is that it can help reduce stress, Avent added.

For the birds

One easy way to get more invested in the health of the environment is to make a muse out of plants and animals by studying specific groups or species.

The Important Bird Area program's challenge to Manitobans is to get more acquainted with all things winged and the issues that affect their long-term health.

"Birds are incredibly charismatic animals, with their intricately patterned feathers, sprightly characters and playful songs," said Tim Poole, a biologist and co-ordinator of the program.

"Watching birds is a fun and challenging way to spend your time. By doing this we can observe the passing of the seasons, with the arrival of birds in spring heralding the end of winter and the departing birds revealing the coming winter. Choosing a place and counting the different types of birds is a great way of following the seasons."

Download the eBird app to track your encounters. The data helps fellow birders find the locations of select species, and it's also used by scientists around the world to monitor species.

Eat more with friends, family

Lastly, Food Matters Manitoba wants you to spend more time at the dinner table with your family and friends.

"Cooking and eating together encourages healthy living and sharing," Katrina Sklepowich with Food Matters Manitoba said. "We all have hectic schedules, so it's important to set aside some time to prepare nutritious meals using whole and fresh ingredients, while spending time with loved ones."

Try new recipes, pick up a few new skills in the kitchen and learn about the benefits of supporting locally sourced food in the process.

If you're completely clueless in the kitchen, Food Matters is holding cooking classes that might help up your game.

About the Author

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology and interests in courts, social justice, health and more. He is the Prairie rep for OutCBC. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

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