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A New Year's resolution for all of us

A blog post by Laura Watson

If you're struggling to think of a New Year's resolution for 2024, or you're looking for one you won't inevitably abandon by February, our Campaigns and Interventions Officer Laura's got an idea we can all get behind.

Almost every year of my adult life, I’ve started the new year with a set of resolutions that I’ve been determined to keep. The results, predictably, have been variable. I am far from alone in my determination to start each new year with a plan for self-improvement. Most people I know typically make at least one new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, a sizeable portion of those good intentions end in disappointment.  

For those who don’t follow this tradition, the very act of creating a new year’s resolution can seem illogical and dated. They are not entirely wrong. New year's resolution is a tradition that dates back over 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Back then, the Babylonians held 12-day new year celebrations and as part of these celebrations, made promises to the Gods to pay their debts and return any object they had borrowed. If their word was kept, the Gods would bestow favour on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of favour.

These days, the new year's resolution tends to be less about blessings and smitings and more about the promise to do something differently in the new year. Whichever version you favour, one thing most beliefs have in common is that the new year marks the time for new beginnings, new resolutions and new ambitions. So why the philosophical history lesson? Well, with 2024 almost here I wanted to take this time to suggest resolutions we can work on together. Maybe if we are resolute together, then we will increase our success? Reflecting on previous new year resolutions I realised it was the ones I undertook with someone else that tended to stick. But what can we all get behind? Well, that’s the easy bit. One thing we all deserve and should strive for is a cleaner, greener and more sustainable Scotland. Since Covid-19 many of us have found a lasting greater appreciation for our local areas. Unfortunately, the connected litter emergency, climate crisis and biodiversity crisis put these places at risk.  

The latest Scottish Litter Survey found that 90% believe that litter is a problem nationally and 70% believe it is a problem locally. Our State of Nature report showed that biodiversity continues to decline and in Scotland 15% of wildlife on average has decreased since 1994, while one in nine species are threated with extinction. As for climate change, the devastating floods and storms that have hit our shores in recent months are stark reminders that climate change is a global issue which no one can hide from. Scotland needs a unified resolution of its people to address these issues and what better time to start this than at the opening chapter of a new year? So, when you’re thinking about your new year's resolution, why not make it for Scotland?

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