As we dive headfirst into a new year (can you believe 2019 was five years ago?!), many of us are looking for ways to improve ourselves, our habits and our relationship with the world around us. Whether you attach weight to resolutions or not, we’ve gathered some ideas and suggestions from our wonderful customers and team members about how you can not just improve yourself, but this beautiful, brilliant planet we all share.
Resolution #1: Connect with your community
Want to feel happy, safe, supported and a sense of purpose in 2024? Find some ways to connect with your neighbours and networks around you. “This may be bigger, like regular volunteering, or it may be as simple as trying to buy your food from local food producers,” says Jane Kern, Bank Australia’s head of impact management.
Resolution #2: Get involved in grassroots green efforts
Speaking of communities, they’re the perfect place to engage with collective action, particularly around climate and the environment. “Community is at the heart of our collective strength,” says the team from Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia, one of Bank Australia’s community customer grant recipients. “Find (or start!) a local climate initiative to get involved with. By pooling resources, knowledge, and skills, we can create a more significant impact than any individual effort alone.”
Dr Kita Ashman, a threatened species and climate adaptation ecologist at WWF Australia and Bank Australia customer, says it’s easier than ever to get involved in grassroots nature movements. “Showing up in whatever way you can will make an impact,” she says. “It could be as simple as signing a petition, getting in touch with your local MP, or sending off an email at the right time.”
Resolution #3: Learn about and support First Nations communities, all year round
Bank Australia customer Clothing the Gaps Foundation believes that celebrating First Nations excellence shouldn’t be limited to NAIDOC and Reconciliation Weeks. “Reflect and think of ways that you as an individual or workplace can embed and celebrate Aboriginal culture and perspectives all year round,” says Lena Charles, a Yorta Yorta and Gunai Kurnai woman who works as the impact manager at the Aboriginal-led not-for-profit.
A for how to approach this, Lena suggests:
- “Get creative with how you Acknowledge Country. How can you make it personal and reflective to the context of your environment? What’s unique to the Traditional Country you are acknowledging?
- Donate to Aboriginal organisations and businesses
- Read books by Aboriginal authors
- Wear your values! Elevate Aboriginal voices, social causes and culture with your wardrobe.
- Attend your local NAIDOC march or other key protests and events throughout the year
- Visit galleries showcasing Aboriginal talent.”
Kirsty Sword Gusmão, the CEO of Woor-Dungin, another community customer grant recipient, suggests bringing a First Nations lens to your day-to-day life. “Learn about the history and culture of the First Nations people on whose land you live and work,” she says. “Embark on culturally immersive experiences, support Aboriginal people's agendas (rather than starting a project and getting Aboriginal people involved) and buy Blak!”
Resolution #4: Tweak your daily habits to help the planet
Small changes can make a big difference, according to Lena. “From smaller actions – like taking more public transport, bringing a reusable coffee cup, and considering where do you do your shopping – to the bigger pieces, such as who’s your super invested with? Where do you bank? The little things add up.”
Sustainability-focused architect and Bank Australia customer Stephen Choi has a daily water-saving habit. “Keep a bucket in the shower,” he says. That off-flow from the running water has many other uses, like watering your plants. (“Leave the water in the bucket for at least a day, as this lets the chlorine evaporate, leading to happier plants and soil!”)
Resolution #5: Celebrate Australia’s multiculturalism
Suzie Watts, the CEO of Mzuri Dance Artistree (another community customer grant recipient) encourages everyone to actively participate in the certified buffet of diverse cultural events and activities throughout the year in Australia. “ It's about more than just attending events; it's about immersing oneself in different cultural experiences and recognising the strength and vibrancy these bring to Australia,” she says.
Resolution #6: Develop better food habits for the planet
Jean Darling and Stephen Mason from community customer grant recipient Cirque du Soil are determined to make it 100% unacceptable for food waste to be in landfill bins. “Implement the ‘10 Rs’ of reducing food waste: Remember, respect, refuse, reduce, reuse, return, refill, rot, restore and repurpose. Embrace wonky fruit and veg and get creative with ferments and pickles,” Jean says.
“Planning your meals has the biggest impact, and freeze, don’t throw,” adds Stephen.
Kita also suggests eating more plants, and growing them yourself where possible. “Not only does this improve your physical health, but it reduces food mileage and packaging associated with purchasing food.”
Resolution #7: Consume less and more consciously
Jane encourages a mindful mindset around consumption. “Trying to buy less stuff, looking for second hand wherever possible, and when you do need to buy new things, trying to buy the best quality that’s within your budget,” she says.
Underwear for Humanity’s Kelly Barrett agrees, particularly when it comes to clothing. “Try and always think of the entire life of the garment,” she suggests. “Where has it been and where is it going? Once you’re sick of it, will someone else love it? Or is it likely to go to landfill? That helps me stretch myself to buy quality, because clothing can be worn by multiple owners and have many lives.”
Resolution #8: Tap into collective creativity
Bec Reid from All the Queen’s Men, a community customer grant recipient, says we should embrace creating things together. “Make something collectively with your hands, join a choir, or volunteer to help paint that new mural,” she says. “Everyone has a right to a creative life and everyone's individual creativity is as indelible as their fingerprint. It's wholly yours and you can tap into it anytime, on your terms.”
Resolution #9: Get dancing (or just moving)
Suzie is a big fan of movement to boost personal and mental health. “Finding balance through creative outlets like dance and music can be transformative,” she says. “Engaging in artistic expression provides a space for reflection and connection, fostering both individual and community wellbeing.”
And she’s not alone. Bec suggests “finding space and time to put on a tune of your choice and move your body for three minutes every day…and be as silly as you like!”, while Jean says, “Don't stop moving and find a dance floor to decompress when you can.”
Not a dancer? No worries. “Set yourself an active transport goal, suggests Georgia Windrum, Bank Australia’s manager of climate action strategy. “If you can, cycle or walk to work as part of your commute one day a week.”
Resolution #10: Make ‘climate justice’ an everyday term
Tegan Lerm from Project Planet suggests learning about and amplifying the idea of climate justice, particularly around First Nations land leadership and management. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been the custodians of this country for thousands of years, and we have to centre and uplift their voices when learning how to best care for Country and adapt to a changing climate,” she says.
To help make climate justice a reality, Kita suggests a tangible, ongoing action: paying the rent. “By paying the rent, you're helping to support and strengthen the First Nations knowledge base, which is essential to repairing and adapting our ecosystems and communities,” she says. “You’re supporting that same management that has typically given us much more biodiversity and climate-stable areas.”
Resolution #11: Go electric
This year, make your house part of the climate solution. “Look into making your home all-electric and increasing your home’s energy efficiency, even if you’re renting,” Georgia says. “If you own a car, start researching, planning and saving for your next car to be an EV and find ways to reduce your reliance on private vehicles, like e-bikes, or taking more public transport.”
Resolution #12: Switch off in nature
Bram Mason, Bank Australia’s nature and biodiversity manager, believes it’s vital we humans carve out time to interact with and enjoy the natural world. “A hike in a national park, mountain biking in a forest, a picnic in your favourite park or spending time with the family at the beach can all help us feel the importance of nature,” he says. “If we know something is important to us, we’re unlikely to make a decision that harms that interest.”
And, Kita adds, it helps to leave your phone behind. “We live on a pretty fast paced planet,” she says. “It's really important to take time to switch off. I encourage people to get out into nature. That might look like walking around your block without your phone and noticing the trees and the birds – being present and noticing what a beautiful planet we live on and feeling inspired to protect it.”
Resolution #13: Be kind to yourself and others
If you’re looking to do some inner work, Kirsty suggests learning about and practising Dadirri, a Ngan’gikurunggurr (one of the language groups of the Daly River area of the Northern Territory) word meaning “inner deep listening and quiet still awareness and waiting”.
Stephen suggests slowing down and treating yourself with kindness. “Direction is more important than speed,” he says. “Going in the right direction, albeit slower than you want to, is far more valuable than going in the wrong direction at high speed.”
When it comes to others, Bram says that acts of kindness can be simple but transformative. “We may not always be in a position to help those in need,” he says, “but a smile and friendly acknowledgement can go a long way to helping someone feel that there are good people in society looking out for them.”