Year in Review + Ethical Resolutions

The time has come to say goodbye to this glorious, tumultuous year. 2015 was a weird one.


I feel like I came into my own as a writer. I took risks, got rejected, and published a few articles and posts that I’m really proud of (see one, two, and three). I worked with some cool companies, met some cool people, and befriended lots of ethical bloggers who have helped me refine my voice and find the confidence to press on.

Working in an increasingly crowded space means there’s always someone else doing it better. There’s always a prettier face, a more approachable writer, a bigger success story. But I’m learning that that’s ok, because there’s only one me and I’ve got to believe that I have something to offer or there’s no point at all.

I had intended to start writing a book this year, but I realized early on that I need more time to define myself as a writer, blogger, and conscious consumer. That’s ok. Things will work out in time. I’m also considering more formal study, but we’ll see what 2016 brings.

This year, I feel like a real, capable adult for the first time, well, ever. And I understand that my words and actions have weight, not only in this space, but in everyday life. I’m learning the exhausting work of practicing kindess and fostering empathy for everyone – acknowledging my privilege, stepping out of conversations I have no business being involved in, and listening, even when I don’t like what I’m hearing.

This year I’ve been angrier, more humbled, more sure, and more emotionally exhausted than ever before and I hope that the ride has taught me something. It’s hard to keep the faith in a world of near insurmountable tragedy, violence, and catastrophe. Things aren’t ok and it’s easy to toss up your hands and say, “What’s the point of trying?” every time another person dies in a mass shooting, or a refugee is denied entry, or another human rights abuse is brought to light. But we press on, because there’s nothing else we can do.


1. Get a plan.

Figure out what I want to do in the long term and take intentional steps to get there. Ever since I graduated, I’ve been flailing around waiting to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I feel like I’m getting close to knowing, and it’s time to just go for it.

2. Reduce my plastic and materials consumption.

I took a few steps to reduce my daily waste this year, but it’s time to go all the way: bring my reusable bags to the grocery store, purchase reusable food storage bags, use what I have until it’s gone, consider shampoo and soap bars over liquids that require plastic containers. I’m excited about this, because I know from switching to cloth pads and cotton rounds that it’s really not hard!

3. Read more books.

I’ve got a big ol’ stack of books waiting to be opened. All I need to do is make time to read them. From capitalism to theology, global manufacturing to quiet novels, I know that I need the knowledge and enrichment good books bring.

4. Write more articles on ethical living and theology.

I want to continue to pitch large publications and write better long form pieces for the blog, too. I have a list of post ideas and I just need to get started on them. If you have a question or a topic idea, let me know.

5. Integrate my values into everything I do.

I want to get better at reconciling my consumer ethics to my everyday behavior, and vice versa. It’s all too easy to put things in boxes and fail to recognize the internal inconsistencies in my ethical outlook. I want to think harder about how my faith practices, political and social views, and moral perspectives play into one another.

6. Pare down.

It’s time to get a grip on my “collecting” habit. I don’t need to buy everything I like at the thrift shop. I don’t need to keep my 11th grade notes. A few blank spaces on the wall never killed anyone. I have a tendency to buy and keep things just for the heck of it and I think it’s time to say goodbye to a few things (responsibly, of course – I’ll donate to local thrifts or sell on ebay).

7. Exercise like a responsible person.

I’ve spent all of my adult life justifying my near total lack of exercise. To be fair, I do work in retail, so I get more exercise than your average office worker just by going to work, but I’m starting to feel my age and I would like to start jogging, or at least power walking, 2-3 times a week.

8. Celebrate humanity.

Look for the good, in myself and others. Seek reconciliation. Always give others the benefit of the doubt. See my failures as normal, expected parts of being human. Know that being human is good enough (you know, but try to be a good human).


I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on this year and the next one. What did you learn about yourself this year? What are you looking forward to?


Check out my fellow Ethical Writers Co. members’ Resolutions posts:

Looking for more? Shop 100+ sustainable and ethical brands with my Sustainable Brand Directory.
If you found this post helpful, you can Buy Me a Coffee.


  1. NickaPaulo
    January 5, 2016 / 11:45 pm

    Great post. I think that listening even when you are not liking what you're hearing is not for everyone but it's a gift and very rar. I also think I have it and that is why I value it a lot. It is also something that you gain with patience and time. I also love writing but I'm just getting my feet and that is why I want to read more and write more too. The collecting is a problem I need to solve too but my problem is nick-nacks. Have a great 2016, hope you get to achieve all your goals.

  2. Sandi Erickson
    January 2, 2016 / 7:43 pm

    I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with Direct Sales, Avon more specifically. This has not at all been my experience with Trades of Hope. I've met and traveled with the companies founders and found them all to be women of integrity and genuinely caring for our artisans and for us. They love doing what they can to empower, reward and encourage us. Thanks for responding to my comment.

  3. Rebekah Jaunty
    January 2, 2016 / 7:41 pm

    "When I was a kid, I would quit anything I wasn't immediately good at…" Same here, lady, which means that only at age 30 am I finally learning to be a humble beginner and screw up publicly. Wish I'd started decades ago!

  4. Leah Wise
    January 2, 2016 / 6:33 pm

    I LOVE this comment. Thanks for the shampoo bar info. I'm going to look into Liggett. And thanks for your encouragement. I am prone toward tons of self criticism, which, on the positive side, can be a driving force to keep pushing myself, but more often than not, it just paralyzes me from doing the things I want to do. When I was a kid, I would quit anything I wasn't immediately good at, so it's hard to turn that bad habit around and keep working at things even when I'm not clearly "the best," whatever that means.I'm looking forward to a year of working hard without so much pressure on myself to have everything turn out the way I expect it to.

  5. Leah Wise
    January 2, 2016 / 6:28 pm

    Thank you for your encouragement. I wasn't trying to be too hard on myself, but I often feel like I'm not where I'm supposed to be or doing exactly what I'd like to be doing. It's so nice to hear that what I'm doing is appreciated. Thanks and happy new year!

  6. Leah Wise
    January 2, 2016 / 6:26 pm

    Thanks for your kind words and encouragement! I intentionally make my resolutions sort of open ended because I get overwhelmed otherwise. It's difficult to balance ambition with achievability. I think that balance is important – we shouldn't get swept up in the American ideal to work ourselves to death.

  7. Leah Wise
    January 2, 2016 / 6:24 pm

    Hi. Thanks for reading. I have a couple friends who sell through Trades of Hope. In general, I am opposed to direct sales models because they often exploit the representative (I used to sell Avon), but I'm glad it's working well for you.

  8. Rebekah Jaunty
    December 30, 2015 / 9:52 pm

    "Working in an increasingly crowded space means there's always someone else doing it better. There's always a prettier face, a more approachable writer, a bigger success story. But I'm learning that that's ok, because there's only one me and I've got to believe that I have something to offer or there's no point at all."You have PLENTY to offer, and I appreciate what you do, exactly the way you do it.RE: shampoo bars, I switched over a month or two ago and am happy so far. I have a J.R. Liggett bar and one from Lush, and the Liggett was cheaper and is more effective on my hair— the Lush one was expensive, crumbles, wears down faster, and seems to require much more rinsing. If you can find a soap dish you absolutely love, that makes using bar soaps feel a bit more special and might help offset any loss-of-glamour you feel. I'm still using a bottled conditioner, but my hair's even shorter than yours and I try to use very little at a time. "I don't need to buy everything I like at the thrift shop."Man, that must be a constant source of temptation. "Exercise like a responsible person."Ha! So important, and so daunting. Let me know if you want moral support or accountability of some kind. "See my failures as normal, expected parts of being human."Isn't this tough? I'm often generous and accepting of other people's quirks and foibles, but every one of my imperfections scalds me like a branding iron. Pride! What makes me think I'm so special, or that I'm too good to have all the flaws I clearly have? Mystery. I'm a fairly new fan, but I read back through a lot of your articles this month and really appreciated your honesty and perspective. So often, ethical style blogs devolve into plain ol' fashion, with all its must-haves and it-bags and whatnot. Thank you for writing such thoughtful, practical essays and giving your readers plenty to think about. And thanks for adding the Name/URL option.

  9. Besma | Curiously Conscious
    December 30, 2015 / 9:44 pm

    Hi Leah,Great post and summation of the year – 2015 has been a tough one when it comes to world events. I'm not sure if I'm picking up on a slightly humble vibe, but I genuinely enjoy reading your posts and following the ethical fashion brands you showcase on here. I hope you can continue to grow and define what you want to do in your life, but know that what you have already done is appreciated!Best wishes for the New Year,Besma | Curiously Conscious

  10. BobCMU76
    December 30, 2015 / 5:57 pm

    For some reason, your resolutions look mighty ambitious to me. And yet, moderate and achievable. I struggle with being the person I ought be but have had alot of help along the way. Folks I often fear I've let down by remaining a creature of habits which include consuming too much of what exploits others, depletes fossil resources (including aquifer water), and causes animals to live and die in cruelty. And worse than how I consume is how little I produce. I'm of an age where I think my efforts are less well spent in my own productions than fostering the ambitions of talented youth like you and Daniel. It would be nice to read more and write just a little. In my incoherent way, I guess the coherence of your resolutions seems most daunting. I'll just strive to keep in mind the cost to others of what I do, the benefits of what I might otherwise do, and incline myself to the latter.Thanks for your example and your kindness.

  11. Sandi Erickson
    December 30, 2015 / 4:50 pm

    Hi I just found your blog from a friend who has an Eshkati dress and I was asking her if it was a fair trade company, she researched and found you.I have an idea for a blog post; have you heard of Trades of Hope? We are taking direct sales by storm by marketing fair trade accessories, scarves, home decor etc. through the home party model. I love that every time I have a party, I get to share with other women how they can make a tangible difference in this world that appears to be falling apart. Choosing where we spend our money and on what is so important. Behind every item we purchase is a human that is trying to provide for their family. We pay our artisans 100% their asking price for their product because they know how much is costs to live in their country. I love knowing that I am helping to provide jobs for women with dignity so they aren't forced to sell their body to feed their children, or to place their child in an orphanage just because they can't feed them. I can make a change, I am making a difference in the world and my income from this job also gives me the freedom and ability to donate to causes, like refugee care, that break my heart. Thanks for caring about these issues too! And keep spreading the word on how we can be socially conscious consumers. If you want, check out my website to learn more.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: