“It’s hard to transform your life to live more sustainably,” says André Eikmeier, co-founder of wine retailer Vinomofo and founder of the new sustainability-focused platform The Good Empire. “It can be like opening up a Pandora’s Box, and it can quickly feel overwhelming, hopeless. You get inspired to change your life, and then you walk into the supermarket and everything’s wrapped in plastic.”
That’s why Eikmeier’s new Adelaide-based organisation, The Good Empire, created the Year of the Planet campaign. Launched at the beginning of January, its mission is to get one million people to pledge to make one small change each month to live more sustainably – which collectively adds up to a big impact. The idea came to Eikmeier as a way to combat the malaise that often sets in when people start their journey towards living a more sustainable life.
“We thought, what if we helped people make changes, one by one, month by month, over the course of a year?” he tells Broadsheet. “Give them time to build new habits. And be forgiving, be human. Encourage, don’t shame. I think that’s really important,” he says.
Each month, the campaign will suggest one small lifestyle change. This month it’s ditching disposable coffee cups, next month it’s eschewing plastic bottles of water. In May, participants will be asked to stop buying single-use body wash, cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, toothbrushes and shavers, and in November punters will be encouraged to cut back on meat consumption.
“So much of our efforts go into asking our governments to implement policies, or pleading with big corporates. It can feel like there’s little we can actually do. But that’s not true,” says Eikmeier. “We kind of need to change the way we consume. It’s all gotten a bit out of hand.”
The Good Empire – which runs The Good Emporium, an online shop selling ethical products, shipped carbon neutral – also helps mentor startups and business leaders who want to better the world, in keeping with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Eikmeier’s hope is that by implementing these changes, each person will be able to cut back on at least 1000 pieces of plastic every year. That equates to one billion items that could otherwise end up in landfill (or the ocean). At the time of publication, 2997 people had signed up.
“I looked into the data, and if you take all the coffee cups, plastic water bottles, straws, takeaway containers, plastic bags, cling wrap, bottles of soap, shampoo, detergent … We’d go through, on average, at least a thousand units of plastic in a year. Each.
“If we could create a campaign that got a million people to make small changes in their lives to live more sustainably, together we could stop a billion units of plastic from ending up in our oceans, waterways and landfill.”
Participants are encouraged to sign up at yearoftheplanet.org.