Julia L F Goldstein

How Are You Changing the World?

SMART, Sustainable Goals for 2019

As 2018 winds down, you may be thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Personally, I don’t believe in them. As I said in a talk that I gave at a Toastmasters meeting in January 2018, I prefer to commit to SMART goals: goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It should not surprise those who know me that I always need to be striving toward at least one goal and that my personal goals tend to involve writing or fitness.

When I think beyond myself, my focus tends to be on environmental sustainability. With that in mind, here’s my take on a recent blog post from Earth911 that included a quiz on the impact of potential goals or resolutions. I look at each of the suggested changes to see if I can or should make it into a SMART goal for 2019.

  1. Reduce beef consumption. I eat very little beef, so this isn’t especially relevant. I don’t buy it and rarely order it when I eat at restaurants. I do, however, buy ground bison a few times a month. Does that count? I suppose I could develop a goal related to buying bison less often, but my son loves bison burgers.

  2. Stop drinking bottled water. I don’t drink bottled water, so this isn’t relevant. For those who do, though, a 16-ounce bottle of water per day generates more than 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

  3. Stop wasting food. An average family of four wastes 1460 pounds of food per year. I’m pretty sure that my devotion to the creative use of leftovers and refusal to buy extra just because it’s on sale means that my food waste is substantially lower than this number, but it isn’t zero. I might be able to create a goal around this one.

  4. Stop driving alone to work. I’ve started commuting by car because I sprang for a permanent desk at The Riveter, a local co-working space. I’m more productive and get to interact with real people, but I drive more. I do drive an electric car, but electricity uses energy. I drive because public transportation between home and work is limited. Light rail is coming in 2023, but what should I do meanwhile? Still, there is a bus that I can take, or I might be able to convince someone to carpool.

  5. Switch to solar power at home. When I had to replace my roof, I considered solar roof tiles. The roofer, who could have easily upsold me on a product I asked about, explained that because of the trees shading the south side of my house, solar power wouldn’t generate enough electricity to make it worthwhile. I’ll mark this one as unachievable.

  6. Line drying clothes. The picture shows clothing drying on an outdoor clothesline in the sun, a practice that is popular in Europe. Looking out at the rain, I know that this isn’t a good idea in Seattle. I could set up a clothes-drying rack inside my house, but the environmental benefit of line drying versus machine drying is very small. I vote no.

Now I have a plan:

I’m already committed to reducing food waste. Just writing this post reminded me that I had chicken stock in the fridge, so I poured it into ice cube trays and stashed it in the freezer. Feel free to borrow my tip for ensuring that stock doesn’t go to waste. I plan to write more blog posts about food waste and include some recipes. There’s a goal! It needs a bit more detail to make it SMART, though. I will write at least four blog posts related to food waste in 2019.

I’ve been thinking about that commute. The most reasonable bus route starts a ten-minute walk from my house, but it only runs ten times per day—five in the morning and five in the afternoon/evening. The last morning route leaves at 8:07 am, earlier than I usually like to leave, but I can do it. It drops me off a mile and a half from work, where I can either take a second bus, find a Lime Bike, or walk the rest of the way. I own comfortable, waterproof boots and several rain jackets and enjoy walking. I will take the bus once a week beginning in January.

Now it’s your turn! Which of the six choices above do you want to implement in 2019? Or do you have another goal in mind that’s related to environmental sustainability? Comment and let me know.