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Personal resolutions failing? Here’s 19 ways to change the world in 2019

So you’ve made it halfway through January. Maybe those noble Veganuary goals have been downgraded. And perhaps those punishing gym promises were a little optimistic. Whether you’re on track or not, here are 19 resolutions you can pick up now to make the world a better place this year.

1. Start regular volunteering

As an ICS volunteer, you’re no stranger to this one. But if you haven’t continued after your placement, why not pick it up again at home? Begin by checking out, a national database which matches your skills in everything from football coaching to youth leadership with roles in your local area.

Time: 3 hours a week

A sea turtle approaches a plastic bag
By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Do something about it

2. Go for a week without single-use plastics

In October the European Parliament announced plans for a ban on single-use plastics – stuff like plastic bags and straws – by 2021. Get ahead of the ban by cutting them out of your life now. This blog has 100 great tips on how to live without or live with less plastic.

Time: 1 hour a week

3. Take part in a charity fundraising challenge

Even if you’re feeling hard up this January, there are still ways to give. Most charities are now recruiting fundraisers for events throughout 2019. Whether you’re a runner or a baker, use your skills to make money for good causes. Take a look at VSO’s events for inspo.

Time: 24 hours

4. Carry out a random act of kindness

In a world that can feel divided, random acts of kindness can go a long way to making a big difference to other people’s day. Resolve to give more praise or write handwritten letters to friends and family. There’s loads more ideas here.

Time: 1 hour a week

ICS volunteer Takyiwa speaks to London Live about representing ICS at the UN
© London Live
ICS volunteer Takyiwa speaks to London Live about representing ICS at the UN

5. Speak to the press about your time on ICS

Help make sure we can reach the next generation of ICS volunteers in your area – by telling your local paper about your time on placement. Fill out our quick, five minute form and we’ll send a press release straight to journalists near you.

Time: 5 minutes

6. Do your bit for UK Aid

Feel passionate about the UK providing aid around the world? If you’re based in or near Essex and free on Sunday 27th January, sign up to join our training day on how to campaign better. You’ll be heading out onto the streets of Southend to talk to the public about why aid matters.

Time: 1 day

Leeds NHS Blood Donation Centre entrance as pictured from the outisde
Which blood group are you? Find out - and save a life - by donating yours

7. Become a blood donor

The NHS needs a regular supply of the eight main blood groups. Half the UK population is group O – but some rare types are more common in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Find out your blood type and sign up to donate online or by phone on 0300 123 23 23.

Time: 30 minutes

8. Give Veganuary a go

Whatever your opinions on meat – or awkward compound words – stopping your consumption for a month can improve the health of your body, your wallet, and the planet. Whether committing to January or just want to do the occasional meal, Veganuary’s site has loads of tasty recipes to try out.

Time: 1 month

What you wear shouldn't cost the earth. ICS volunteer Josephine models this VSO t-shirt
© VSO / Georgie Scott
What you wear shouldn't cost the earth. ICS volunteer Josephine models this VSO t-shirt

9. Shop ethical

You have the ultimate consumer power – choosing which companies receive your money. So before you buy that top, find out about the retailer’s record on worker’s rights in Bangladesh, or whether they’re paying their staff London Living Wage. Shop VSO’s range of ethical products now.

Time: 10 minutes a day

10. Keep your local area tidy

Hate waste? Love your community? Keep Britain Tidy are bringing their #LitterHeroes campaign back for 2019, mobilising 500,000 people across the country to take to the streets in March and April to rid of rubbish. Pre-register now to hear about events near you.

Time: 1 day

11. Spread the world about the SDGs

Tell your local community about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, how you helped work towards achieving them through ICS, and why they should care too. We’re looking for speakers to talk to schools and community organisations about ICS.

Time: 1 hour

A man stocks the shelves at a food bank in Rotherham
© Shutterstock
The Trussell Trust runs 1,200 food banks across the country. Volunteer or donate now

12. Take action on food poverty in the UK

With more people than ever before through the doors of food banks this Christmas, your donations are needed urgently. The Trussell Trust’s 1,200 centres across the UK need constant donations. If, like us, you’ve been inspired by I, Daniel Blake – or it’s just on your mind – give your support now.

Time: 20 minutes

13. Lobby your local politicians

Use the skills you developed on ICS – and contact your local MP about an issue that you care about. Whether that’s making your views about Brexit or the use of food banks up heard – your politicians are paid and employed to represent you. Find out who they are and email them.

Time: 30 minutes

14. Offset your carbon emissions

Thinking more about your carbon footprint? Carbon offsetting means compensating for your CO2 emissions by paying to reduce the equivalent amount in the atmosphere – through actions like planting trees. Offsetting a year’s worth of gas and electricity costs around £45. Calculate yours.

Time: 30 minutes

A screen shot of petitions site
© Shutterstock
Platforms like have seen users achieve huge results through petitions

15. Sign a petition

Clicktivism might feel like a small action, but petitions have made big change recently. From ending the tampon tax to making historic environmental progress with the Paris Climate Agreement, showing your support online can change things offline. See what’s trending – and start your own.

Time: 15 minutes

16. Stop wasting food

Around a third of the world’s food is wasted. This year, resolve to save some money and help the planet by planning and eating better. This handy guide has some good tips – including keeping a tally or taking photos of what’s left inside your fridge and avoiding shopping when you’re hungry!

Time: 2 hours a week

17. Get back in touch with your ICS team

Why not organise a UK reunion, get back in touch with your counterpart or organise a cross-country campaign? Now’s a great time to see where everyone is working and use your contacts to help each other. And get them to sign up to our newsletter to hear about what events we have coming up.

Time: 30 minutes

An asylum seeker walks past a broken window in the Calais refugee camp
© Edward Crawford /
Sleeping bags, leggings and ponchos - among the items that charity Help Refugees are asking for

18. Donate your unwanted belongings to refugees

As winter weather sweeps across Europe, refugees urgently need warm clothes. See the list of items that Help Refugees needs donated, like sleeping bags, leggings and ponchos – and what they don’t want, like children’s bedding, wellies or roll mats – and if you’ve got any, then find your local centre.

Time: 1 hour

19. Celebrate Fairtrade in their fortnight of activism

Fairtrade Fortnight takes place from 25 February to 10 March. This year, the event, which focuses on cocoa, is looking at the crash in prices that has affected West African farmers. Order your free resources to host your own events and awareness of Fairtrade at work and in your local area.

Time: 2 hours

Stay involved with ICS

Click here for more ways to change the world

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Funded by the UK Government

ICS is funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) which leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty.

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