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Have yourself a happy and thoughtful New Year

Ting-Yi Shih

I hope everyone had a wonderful and joyous Christmas, but let’s get serious. It's time to start thinking about the New Year. I know, already?!

Personally, I can't wait to start a new year because I have a few things I’m going to set in motion to start this one right. I’m determined to have myself a happy and thoughtful new year.

Here are a few small things that I believe will make our world a better place for our children. And we can do these simply by making small changes to our lives. They’re almost effortless, and some of them even make life easier. So why not?


  1. Send electronic cards

I did this for our Christmas cards this year. I admit I was running out of time to have them printed, delivered to me, and then mailed out in time. I had to improvise, and I was pleasantly surprised. I received such positive feedback on my animated photo Christmas cards, I may never go back to physically printed cards. It took less time, allowed me to be more creative in a way, and it didn’t cost anything. The best part was that I didn’t create any waste.

Here are a few sites where you can make them for free, there’s always the option to get the membership to have access to premium ones, but I find that basic ones work wonderfully.

SmileBox - I was able to customize a free Christmas card with multiple family photos to make it a photobook. It was sent with cheerful music embedded and captions for each photo to tell our family story through the year. I loved it, and my family and friends did, too!

Open Me - It’s a simple, subscription-based e-card company. You get an unlimited number of cards you can send with a membership; however, there are still a few free e-cards you can take advantage of without a membership. - This is a small company of four artists working out of their San Francisco office. Their company mission is to make sending e-cards fun for every occasion. They believe in doing good, and they donate their revenue to many different groups—including ones that support wildlife and the environment. This site offers more customization than others. You can add music or a virtual stamp, as well as change the headline and background colors.

Paperless Post - This company designs and prints physical greeting cards. They pride themselves for having elegant designs that their loyal customers are willing to pay for. That’s the core of their business, but they do offer a free feature: the “paperless flyer” that lets you create e-invitations free of charge.


  1. Shop online 

When I went Christmas shopping this past month, I was shocked and disheartened to see how much tissue paper and bags (both plastic and paper) are still being used. I understand the need to beautify the purchase for our customers, but I really think every store—big or small—can be more conscientious about how they are using (or wasting) their resources. However, every one of us can also do our part to help reduce waste. Remember when I talked about the benefits and ramifications of shopping online in a 5 step guide to sustainable fashion shopping? All hope is not lost, by educating ourselves and reminding others, we can make sure more of us are reducing our footprint on our environment, and our collective effort will ensure our children have a beautiful future ahead.


  1. Get automatic

More bundle products seem to be popping up, it started with clothing and now the latest is cleaning products. Our society, I feel, as a whole, really is trying to do better. These companies focus on offering environmentally-friendly products that empower us. There are a few that have caught my eye, and as part of my new year routine, I’m going to try one. I believe this will relieve some headaches and inconveniences that I currently encounter when it comes to cleaning my house.

Grove Collaborative - I saw this one on Facebook—as I’m sure many of you have as well. What really caught my attention is their natural laundry detergent, I have previously talked about how to best care for organic cotton clothing, and they have a lot of different “green” detergent options. I have also found many products I already purchase regularly, such as Method all-purpose cleanser, Tom’s children’s toothpaste, Zarbee’s children’s cough syrup to name a few. I’ve also found products I’ve always wanted to try on there, so this gives me incentive to give it a try. I can reduce my trips to Target, and still have these products at hand when I need them.

MightyNest - They have a few more categories than Grove Collaborative, and they also offer Food Storage, Ditch Disposables, and Waste Free Lunch. It’s seems great for those of us who want to create an organic home for our kiddos. It will make our lives so much easier and put our minds at ease to have a safe place where we can shop for organic and sustainable products.


  1. Be thoughtful

A dear friend gifted me a hand-crafted candy jar for Christmas, and it’s become my favorite holiday decoration. It means so much to get something from a friend who spent time creating something just for you! It’s not about how talented you are or how beautiful the final product is, it’s really the thought that counts. I can honestly say I was extremely touched and grateful to have a friend like her.

I now have a goal of giving more thoughtful presents, too. And to make more thoughtful gestures—big or small. My thing has always been throwing a themed party for my friends and their kids, offering a space for a get-together where everyone shares food and laughter. It’s a form of gifting, and I think I will continue this tradition.


  1. Limited number of gifts

My husband and I totally overdid our Christmas last year by buying way too many gifts for our 4-year-old daughter. The most elaborate gift we got her was the FurReal Roarin’ Tyler. While it brought her great smiles and a few minutes of excitement, the tiger has mostly collected dust in storage because she either didn’t want to interact with it for a long periods of time, or she thought it was too noisy. Above all, there were simply too many exciting new things to play with and she was overwhelmed—unable to decide what to play with.

We decided that we want to get this under control this year. We even made sure to notify Grammy of the plan so that she could limit the number of gifts she was going to get our girl. I’m glad to say that it worked out great! We wanted to only get her one big present, and any small presents can come from other people. The biggest present we got her this year was a fort-building kit that she could make her own configuration. And she is loving it! She’s even slept inside her custom hideout for a few nights now.

We made sure that all of the other gifts she received were either educational or activity-based. We’re making sure she learns to appreciate what she has and has time to really play with each of them. We’re also reducing waste this way because our pile of wrapping paper and boxes on Christmas morning was a lot smaller than last year!

With this short list, I think I'm off to a good start to make sure my new year is a great one. I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can make your 2019 a wonderfully responsible year in your own way. May all of you have a happy—and thoughtful—new year!

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