Green Goal Setting

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I gave up on resolutions a few years ago because they only frustrated me. I was horrible at keeping them and then I felt guilty. This year, though, I’m going to try to set some goals for the year. Some may argue that it’s merely semantics: goals, resolutions, what’s the difference? I supoose the same tactics could apply no matter what you choose to call them, but goals, by nature, are specific. They often involve steps. My resolutions were always broad, sweeping statements about what I was going to start doing or stop doing. “I’m going to exercise more this year.” “I’m going to be kinder and gentler.” “I’m going to stop getting so frustrated.”

See. I set myself up.

So, goals.

Chris Guillebeau takes on a large goal-defining project each year that he calls his Annual Review. I’m intrigued, but haven’t ever taken the time to do it the way he does. It seems to be working well for him, though. 🙂 Before he begins setting goals for the year ahead, Chris asks himself 2 questions: What went well in the past year? What didn’t go very well in the past year? He uses this reflection to shape and define some of his goals going forward.

Trent Hamm does a 5 year sketch. He suggests getting a picture, either in writing or collage form, of what you’d like your life to be like in 5 years. It should take a while to come up with details. Once you have your ideas, you can begin pulling out projects and tasks and create specific, actionable steps to get there.

This year, I’m going to focus on getting specific with my goals. I think I’ll set up categories for them like Chris Guillebeau does. One of those categories will be my “Green Goals.” I’ll share my own green goals in another post, but if you’re interested in some green goal setting, here’s some help as you get started. Remember, the key is to make your goals as specific as possible. Saying “I’m going to be more green this year” won’t accomplish anything. Think about how you can be greener and then make a plan.

Recycling:  If you don’t recycle now, where can you begin? Maybe you’ll find out about the options available to you in your area. The website for the county or city where you live is a good place to start. Then make a commit to put something in the recycling bin each week.

If you do recycle already, you could find out how to recycle something else that you usually don’t bother with. For example, I have a huge collection of dead batteries. I’ve been putting off doing the research to find out how to recycle them. Maybe that will be one of my goals for this year: figure out what to do with the batteries and then do it!

Driving less: Define what you mean. Will you make some trips on foot or by bike instead of driving? If that’s not possible, will you combine trips so you’re not driving back and forth to the same area all the time? Which trips will you substitute or combine?

Buy organic: Try just one thing. I’d start with milk — based on the research about hormones and antibiotics in milk products, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck (especially if you have kids) with organic milk. If you already buy organic milk, maybe you’ll commit to adding one more thing to the list.

Grocery bags: Willing to try (again) to use those reusable bags you have? This time, figure out how to make them a habit. Maybe you’ll decide to leave them in the front seat of your car or hang a little ribbon from something on the dashboard to serve as a reminder. Get your kids to help if they go shopping with you. Put them in charge of remembering the bags.

There are lots of ways to go after a goal-setting project. What I’ve learned from past experience is that without solid goals and a specific plan to achieve them, nothing much gets done.

It would be great if you’d share some of your green goals in the comments.


  1. Beth these are great. You are so right about making achievable realistic goals. For me I started with organic fair trade coffee. I’m a huge coffee hound so this a regular purchase. Pretty much any grocery store carries it now. Its interesting because I pay LESS for my fresh, locally roasted fair trade organic coffee at my local mainstream supermarket than I would if I bought Starbucks or Caribou Coffee!

  2. I have really enjoyed doing my Annual Review this year – first time I ever did it and I found it helpful. Thanks for the link to Trent’s 5 year sketch too – might try that later!
    As for “green” goals, I’d not thought about it. I like the idea of organic milk, friends of mine have been encouraging raw milk – but I think that is too complicated! And yes, I will try, AGAIN, to start using my multitudinous numbers of reusable shopping bags!!! I am so useless at that it is not even funny!


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  2. […] responsible choices, but also to make things easier for you. If I’ve learned anything from setting yearly goals, it’s that if the particulars don’t work with your life as it is, then nothing’s […]