Spend it Better: A dozen (joyful) steps to take in 2022

A new year is like a new page, the perfect place to start doing things to benefit our planet

Opening your eyes to the natural world soothes you like nothing you can ever buy. Photograph: Getty Images

New year’s resolutions slipping yet? You have all my sympathy. It is the hardest time of the year to embrace denial. I have long ago given up giving up things in January. But a new year feels like a new page.

So if we start thinking about how the changes that protect the habitability of the planet also benefit us, then they become easier to adopt. Regeneratively farmed food is more nutritious and tastes better. Less time driving makes you healthier and happier. Opening your eyes to the natural world soothes you like nothing you can ever buy.

Drown out the daunting (and social media influenced) sense that if you can’t do everything there’s no point in doing anything. This is nonsense. Make it about doing rather than denial and the changes we all have to make nudge closer to joy than duty.

1. Eat better meat, either organic or regeneratively farmed. You will be healthier and your diet won't be contributing to water pollution, excessive methane and tonnes of animal feed being imported from thousands of miles away.


2. Explore Ireland by train. Book a bike place and you will be able to get to every corner without spewing carbon as you go. Then book a ferry and Interrail like a teenager.

3. Find your local One Future (onefuture.ie) group and join it.

4. If you have land, plant a native hedgerow, fence off an area to let trees seed themselves, create a small woodland or a pocket forest.

5. Wild your garden. Cover your whole lawn or an area of it with cardboard to retire the grass. In spring spread a thin layer of soil on top and seed it with Irish native wildflower seeds.

6. Alternatively source some yellow rattle seeds and sow patches of this pretty plant and it will parasitise your grass making room for wind-blown wildflower seed.

7. Insulate your home. Your comfort level will rise and your heating bills will drop.

8. When sadness hits, arrange a walk with a friend or just go alone. You don't need a forest to forest bathe. Just looking at the details of plants around you will soothe you.

9. Ride share. Fill the empty seats in your car with people who can help you with your fuel costs and cut their own.

10. Make active travel your workout. Walk, run or cycle to work. Start once a week and work up to more frequent bursts.

11. Each season organise a clothes swap in your neighbourhood or friend group. There are few better ways to get to know people.

12. Compost your food waste. A wormery, bokashi system or Hotbin will allow you to compost like a pro.

Catherine Cleary is co-founder of Pocket Forests