How 2020 has coloured our 2021 intentions


GROWING MORE With more time on their hands and more time at home, many families discovered the joy of planting trees and growing food last year.

What changes are you and yours hoping to introduce to your lives this year?

Green Living
McKinley Neal

Happy New Year, and here’s hoping we can all find some joy despite the tough times we are still facing.
Of course there’s always talk about resolutions and intentions for the year ahead, but this year  many of us are still fatigued from last year, or still find ourselves in the middle of a less-than-ideal situation, so thinking about making big changes or taking on challenges might just be too much.
With that in mind, I’m definitely not going to try to convince you to go vegan for a month or totally cut out plastic. The strategy that I find works best for me and my family at the moment is to try to do less, with more focus, on the days that it feels right, which is absolutely not every day.
We had a chat to reflect on what things we thought went well in 2020 – ordering fruit and veg weekly from Mayo organic farm Glasraí continued to be a habit. Purchases of meat were reduced to once a week or less, and we focused on swapping out the top five items that were still going to landfill.
We didn’t particularly resolve not to buy any new clothes unless they were secondhand, but all the lockdowns made that happen more than any efforts we could have made on our own.
Now we’ve decided to list no more than three things we’d each like to do this year, and except for the purchase of the polytunnel, all of them are virtually free. They include write more in a journal to keep the thoughts from weighing on our minds, practicing dancing, learning to read, talking regularly to our loved ones we have not seen in ages (and writing them some letters as well!) and planting more trees (including starting new ones from cuttings from trees we already have).
At the moment, we have no choice but to cook all our own meals, and until the time comes when we can again pay someone else for the pleasure of eating food prepared by them for us, we have decided to practise new recipes by being inspired by a new-to-us ingredient, like celeriac, millet and coconut flour.
For this year, I also hope to be involved in more community initiatives, which we will have to think creatively about how to do in new ways until it’s safe to gather in groups again. Of course Zoom has enabled us to continue meetings, but I also want to promote communal projects that can start with ideas remotely and then lead to in-person activities, for making and repairing clothes and household items and making items that I would have previously bought.
If you have ideas for connecting with others, it’s worth posting on social media or sharing your idea with some friends, as more people than ever are willing to try most things if it means having a consistent way to connect with others and avoid loneliness (or indeed to talk to someone other than the people in their household). Time to get creative!

McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items and gifts.