With the holiday season in our rear view, and as we begin the task of taking down our decorations, it’s the perfect time to look at the future and decide what we can do to make 2014 better than 2013. While most of us have our personal resolutions for the New Year, perhaps now is the time to look beyond our individual desires and start thinking of what we can do collectively to make our communities and our world a little bit better.
1. Our environment: Stop justifying why we can’t be eco-friendly
We applaud the cities of Ventura and Ojai for taking a strong stance against pollution, one plastic bag at a time. It’s unfortunate, however, that these cities had to pass single-use bag bans because we, as consumers, didn’t take a stand in the first place. This year represents a new beginning, a new outlook on how we treat our planet and the creatures that are defenseless against our pollution. While so many people find excuses not to change, we ask you to just give change a chance. Slight alterations in one’s regular routine can make big differences. Stock up on reusable bags and bring them everywhere you go. Get out of your car and get on a bike. Switch to washable water bottles and filter your own water. Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. The U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic, however, is only 23 percent. Change your light bulbs to LED. If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year. It’s easy. Resolve to make one eco-friendly change and you may notice how much better you feel in knowing you are making a difference. Imagine if we all made such changes.
2. Pay attention to politics and policy makers
2014 is sure to be a gangbuster year in politics. Now that the recession has recessed, the political atmosphere is shifting. With the Tea Party fading away, though not without kicking and screaming, and the Occupy Movement just memories in pictures, the battle for seats in Sacramento and D.C. is going to be especially dynamic. Are we just as divided as we once were in 2008 or even in 2010? It doesn’t appear that way. But our general attitude of indifference isn’t going to cut it this year if the status quo isn’t working any more, therefore we urge you to pay attention, be informed and vote. Low voter turnouts are just what incumbent politicians want — it means better job security for them. Let’s not give them what they want and let’s maybe finally get what we want.
3. Disconnect virtually and reconnect in person
From our celebrity obsession to our codependence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, the Internet in general and even cable TV, too many of us have forgotten the pleasure of connecting face to face. In the midst of it all, we continue to give celebrities too much credibility. We rely too much on virtual social networking to stay in touch, but we are actually losing touch. This year, let’s give our smart phones, tablets and home computers a rest. Make a date. Meet for a walk. Have dinner together. Watch a sunset. Get out and enjoy (real) life.