Goodbye 2016 - you weren't all that bad

2016 has been one hell of a year. We’re reminded of it every day with comments all over social media like “Is 2016 over yet?” and “Just when you thought 2016 couldn’t bring any more bad news…”. I get it. I too have been concerned and scared and questioning the very values that I thought held us together.

Environmentally speaking, it’s been devastating at times. We’ve experienced the worst coral bleaching in recorded history. Climate change took its first official victim, the Bramble Cay Melomys. But then this: exploitation and agriculture – not climate change – were assessed as wildlife’s most imminent threat on a global scale. More animals and plants were added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, or had their threat categories ‘uplisted’ (for example, the Eastern Gorilla went from being ‘endangered’ to ‘critically endangered’). And then there were the political games that left us all gobsmacked.

So yes, I hear you - I’m as ready as anyone for a bright new start in 2017.

Wallowing in the bad of 2016, however, helps nothing. I refuse to let it bring me down now.

I want to end this year on a high, grateful for all the wonderful things it has brought to me and to the world. On the environmental front, we have had some positive shifts. Trends that I think will continue into 2017. This is some of what’s left me feeling happy and hopeful in 2016:

  •  Minimalism has really gained momentum. The idea of buy less, buy well is starting to creep its way into everyday conversations.
  • Sustainability is becoming cool again. Thanks to the likes of The Rogue Ginger, Grown & Gathered, Sarah Wilson and others, “eco-living” doesn’t seem like the exclusive habit of the hippy any longer. It seems to me that people are starting to think more about their actions.
  •  Publications like Peppermint and Slow are gaining popularity (I’m sure there are others not in Australia), again bringing more normality into the idea of conscious living.
  • Even the big players in fashion like Zara and H&M have organic cotton lines, making ethical fashion more affordable.
  • The Source Bulk Foods is popping up all over the place, giving us waste-free shopping options without the hassle. 
  • Connecting with nature is totally on trend right now. Instagram is full of it. #neverstopexploring #awesomeearth. Of course, we should be exploring more without the need for an insta-worthy shot (ask yourself – if you couldn’t take any photos, would you still do it?), but I think getting more people out in nature, whatever the motive, is a big step in the right direction.
  •  Having my friends and family tell me about the simple changes they’ve made to help the environment this year, like refusing take-away coffee cups or recycling their wrapping paper. Small steps add up to big steps.
  •  Environmental scientists are spending much more time connecting with the public, writing for mainstream media outlets and sharing their work online. They’re starting to see the importance of this – something I wholeheartedly believe in (hence this online space of my own). This has been a hot topic at conferences this year. Watch this space for more in 2017.
  • In a very brief campaign, people donated over $140,000 to help save the orange-bellied parrot, which is teetering on extinction. The way the community got behind this cause so quickly really surprised me and left me feeling very hopeful.
  • Conservation’s most famous icon, the Giant Panda, was downlisted from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’, meaning they are further away from extinction now. Hooray for conservation success!
  • My home state, Queensland, has committed to banning single-use plastic bags in 2018. Huge win!

Let’s start 2017 right. Let’s put 2016 behind us and graciously welcome the new year, eager for good things that are coming our way. This is how I’m choosing to live in 2017. Who’s with me?