For many of us who care about the environment and about people, 2016 has been a punch to the gut. Politicians and corporations at odds with issues like human rights and a healthy planet have managed to grab power in countries all over the world this year. Meanwhile, activists are being murdered, forests are burning, reefs are bleaching, ice is melting.
The challenges we will face in 2017 are urgent and massive. But the good news is that when we act together, we are stronger than any government, corporation or head of state. Next year, we can’t afford to be bystanders, so let’s get moving!
Here are a few resolutions you can make to help take back 2017 for people and for planet Earth.
Resolve to tackle overconsumption in your life. By 8 August - Earth Overshoot Day - people had already consumed more resources than the Earth could regenerate in all of 2016. This year, try new ways to reduce your impact on the planet. Eat less meat, or none. Avoid throwaway plastic products. Walk or cycle instead of driving. Fix that broken phone or mend that item of clothing instead of buying something new.
Resolve to fight for justice. We have collective responsibility for the planet and for each other. So if we want to build a more just, sustainable and peaceful world, we must start by pushing back against the systems of power that seek to drive us apart. That means standing with Indigenous Peoples seeking sovereignty over their lands, fighting alongside workers who are being exploited, and challenging racial injustice and xenophobia. Our fights are connected. This year, let’s resolve to stand by each other whenever and wherever we can.
Resolve to hold those in power accountable. Your voice matters. This year, make your voice heard. Try calling or writing to government officials when you disagree with their decisions. Contact companies that endanger our planet, and let shops know that you care about the way they source their products. When governments and corporations convince you that it doesn’t matter if you speak up, they win.
You can start now. Demand that governments protect the Great Northern Forest. Hold governments and big polluters accountable for their climate inaction. Live in the US? Stop Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson from becoming Secretary of State.
Resolve to get involved in your community. Sharing on Facebook is great. Volunteering in your community is even better! This year, take a breather from your computer or phone and start making change right where you live. Greenpeace has volunteer groups all over the world. Join one, or start your own.
Resolve to spread the word. There is an easy way to double your impact when you are fighting for the planet: get a friend to do the same. This year, make it your mission to help friends and family take action alongside you. Bring a friend to a march. Share a petition with your family. Reach out to your neighbors about issues in your community to help them stay informed and get involved.
Resolve to get trained up on making change. Mobilising people around you and speaking up about issues you care about are valuable skills. For 2017, resolve to improve a skill that will help you build the world you want to see. Learn about how to start your own campaign and mobilise others around you. Explore creative ways people like you are taking action globally.
Resolve to make space to enjoy the things you love. Creating a sustainable, just world takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. In order to be strong over the long haul, you need to give yourself space to recharge and keep rooted in the world you are fighting for. Make time to go to a favorite place, spend time with family and friends or simply to stop to take deep breaths.
Just, peaceful and equitable societies are possible. A stable climate is possible. But the world doesn’t get better on its own. It gets better because people work together to make it that way.
Bring it on, 2017. We’re ready for you.
Dawn Bickett is the content editor for the Americas at Greenpeace USA