‘New year, new you’? Just so you know, that doesn’t require a big change. Around the New Year many of us quickly stumble into disappointment by shooting for resolutions which require a total shift, instead of easing into them with smaller, manageable steps. While you may be looking for ways to improve yourself, take it a bit further by considering the following list by SimplyLocal.life below, which may also help positively contribute to the improvement of others as well as lovely Jamaica on a whole! Here’s what the lovely queen, Jhunelle, behind Jamaican travel blog SimplyLocal.life had to say.
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1. Travel Domestically
Gone are the days (I hope) where you define travel as going abroad! Patronizing businesses in your area probably has a bigger effect than you realized. For example, when you order from a local eatery, overnight at an accommodation, visit an attraction, hire a guide + transporter, you play an effective role in supporting residents and their businesses in some way. Also, the more money spent within the country (and with local currency) also helps add value to the national economy and dollar!
2. Travel Responsibly
When visiting Jamaica’s multitude of beautiful places (hopefully including suggestions by SimplyLocal.life and Adventures from Elle), please help to preserve them for others to also enjoy. As travel bloggers we are sometimes hesitant to share locations, not because we want to keep di good tings dem to ourselves, but because we’ve visited attractions both before and after they became widely known, and the difference is sometimes heartbreaking due to visitors abusing the spaces.
When heading out on a road trip, please keep in mind:
● Drive carefully on the roadways (here’s a Driving in Jamaica + Road Trip guide if needed)
● Keep your trash until you find a bin
● Don’t pick plants or flower unless allowed
● Be respectful of an area and its residents
● Opt to use a bathroom instead of outdoors
● Be vigilant of your surroundings
3. Change your Food Order
Higher demands for items will increase the supply, while lower demands will of course do the opposite. Indulging in an invasive species encourages more hunting of them. There are foods that have annual seasons to facilitate their breeding and help stabilize their populations. Avoid eating endangered turtles and parrotfish, and species that are out of season. Inappropriately eating, selling, or catching these species could possibly result in fines and/or prison time.
● Lobster Closed Season: April 1 – June 30
● Conch Closed Season: August 1 – February 28
Some invasive animal species in Jamaica harm the local ecosystem. As a result, it is encouraged by National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) that these creatures be hunted by competent persons to help curb their populations and subsequently the imbalance they created.
Examples of these include white-tailed deer on the east ravaging farmlands (mainly Portland, as well as St. Thomas and St. Andrew) and lionfish destroying native fish and reefs.
5. Plant a Tree
Trees have a multitude of benefits, including providing oxygen which I personally think is very important. They also reduce landslides and flooding, and provide shade from the sometimes unforgiving Jamaican sun. Please consider acquiring or purchasing seedlings to add to the island’s beauty, climate control, and forest reserves.
6. Grow and Share Crops
Jamaica is praised for producing an abundance of nutritious, natural foods; it’s 1 of many reasons to love being Jamaican. Growing your own food puts you in greater control of your nutrition as well as nourishes soil. There is a practice by many locals who have fruit trees in their yard to share the excess with loved ones and/or passers-by. In addition to nurturing personal bonds, this seemingly simple task could also be a meal for a less fortunate person or addition to someone’s livelihood.
7. Go Natural
Reducing chemicals by using all-natural and mostly-natural products for body care should be a win-win situation all around. A few years ago I made switches in my life that I thought were better for my body as well as the environment.
Changes I made that you could too include using:
● Natural bug repellants (such as lemongrass / fevergrass, orange peels, soy candles)
● Natural soaps (especially when outdoors or in a river)
● Menstrual cup to reduce waste and chemicals
8. Minimize Mosquito Breeding
Mosquitos are more than just annoying insects which choose violence daily; they also spread diseases. Jamaica’s tropical climate is perfect for them to thrive. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water; you can help reduce their population by covering or getting rid of standing water in and around your area. Common places you may look are discarded tires, flower pots, vases, open water drums and tanks.
Waste Management Resolutions
- Use Less Plastic
Reducing plastic waste can be as simple as opting for items packaged in more eco-friendly materials, and travelling with reusable utensils and tote bags when on the road. When you do use plastic, please recycle when able.
Not only do we have a garbage issue, but we specifically have a plastic issue. In 2019 Jamaica banned single-use plastic and styrofoam to move towards better environment care. Bottles and cans are usually dropped off to a recycling centre, nearby business/bar/distillery that collects them, or to a contact who sells them.
A few years ago I started collecting plastic bottles for recycling and got my immediate family to do the same. A few places I’ve visited that I’ve personally dropped off bottles include Hope Zoo, Lashings Resort + around Treasure Beach and Chilitos Restaurant.
Ever considered creating a compost heap? Composting is the decaying of natural ingredients (like food scraps) into soil. Some of its great advantages include enrichment, suppressing plant diseases, and reducing harmful emissions. It also creates less waste in Jamaica’s crowded landfills and soil erosion, which will be greatly beneficial during heavy rains.
12. Conserve Water
Ironic that “the land of wood and water” seemingly has a water supply shortage, especially during the dry season. You conserving water today allows it to last longer in between dry spells. The real issue in my opinion is actually water storage and distribution mismanagement. This leads to lack of water in dams during droughts and limited/no supply to some areas. Save by using stored and natural bodies of water, lower pressures, and shorter usage times when possible.
13. Support Vendors
We’ve heard the saying, “when you support a small business, someone does a happy dance”. Elle and I are just 2 examples of proof for this. There are many quality businesses and products right here in Jamaica that you’ve probably never heard of which may need your support to keep producing. I’ve learned about and supported numerous local vendors mostly from visiting popup shops, exhibitions, passing by stalls, and good ole word of mouth. If you think a product or service is great, I urge you in some way to share it with others who may support as well.
14. Adopt an Animal
There are many strays roaming Jamaica’s streets, mainly dogs and cats. Consider adopting an animal and giving them a loving home, plus simultaneously gain a companion! The handful of dedicated rehabilitation centres for animals are often overwhelmed with the amount of furry friends they care for.
15. Donate Blood
Pints of blood are unfortunately often in high demand but low supply in Jamaica. With regrettable numbers in road accidents and crimes, combined with regular medical procedures there is an ongoing need for donations. Depleted blood banks result in limited treatments for patients who could likely have been otherwise saved.
A typical donor may contribute after 3 months of their last donation; 1 pint can possibly save up to 3 lives. When planning to donate at a blood bank, you should:
● Have a full meal and plenty water at least 3 hours prior.
● Avoid caffeinated drinks hours before.
● If anaemic like I am (women especially), take iron supplements for about a week prior.
● Don’t do any strenuous physical activity for the rest of the day.
16. Donate Material Items
There’s always something or someone in need somewhere, and Jamaica is no different. If you connect your heart with a cause, aim to donate relevant items that are within your means. Some commonly desired donation items include:
● New / lightly-worn clean clothes
● Non-perishable foods
● Toiletries / sanitary items
● Tablets for online learning (since the pandemic)
If you don’t know where to start check with a children’s home, elderly home, women’s centre, or a foundation. Here are a few organizations I’ve supported over the years in Jamaica: Salvation Army, Food for the Poor, Feeding the 5000, 876 Volunteer, and Free Likkle Cupboard. Add a little light to someone’s day, you never know the impact you could have!
17. Volunteer Time
Sometimes what’s needed goes beyond material things. There are organizations and causes that call for volunteers to lend extra hands and value. If you’re staying a while at a local resort, you could ask if they have any ‘voluntourism’ opportunities during your stay.
A few I’ve stayed at that have notable community outreach programs include Rockhouse Hotel, Jakes Hotel, and Great Huts Resort. Otherwise, you could seek a worthy community project, event, or organization to share a few hours or days of your time. Cleanups, feedings, state home visits, youth mentorships, building and beautifying venues are just a few ideas! The revitalized Downtown Kingston also has worthy initiatives I’ve checked out.
18. Donate Funds to a Reputable Charity / Cause
As we say in Jamaica, “every mickle mek a muckle” and “one one cocoa fill basket” (ie. Every bit counts). Some organizations have a financial goal to effectively aid their cause. When able, consider donating cash to reputable charities and causes you feel connected. Even if the amount seems insignificant to you, it adds up with other donations to help make a difference.
Community Service Resolutions
- Join / Organize a Cleanup
Our beautiful island sadly suffers from garbage collection / management/ disposal problems. Many places are plagued by litter which of course takes away from Jamaica’s natural beauty, and clogs mangroves and drainage systems. Consider being a part of a regular collective cleanup effort and/or organize 1 yourself. Here’s some of what you will need:
● Large garbage bags
● Trash picker tools
● Sneakers / Comfy closed shoes
- Raise your Voice
If there is a considerable issue that you strongly believe deserves attention and resolution, let your voice be heard! Sometimes we need to loudly raise awareness of an issue to expedite or initiate a fix. Peaceful protests, petitions, organized complaints, and votes are all viable methods. Find a respectable and effective way to let your and others’ voices be heard.
- Build Community Bonds
A strong sense of community helps to uplift society. In a time where we’ve all become more self-reliant and ostracized by modern technology when compared to decades past, be intentional about interacting with your neighbours. Community building adds to overall security, warmth, and development of an area. Initiatives like associations, neighborhood watches, community projects and events, and regular greetings can go a long way.
- Get Vaccinated
For those whose immediate reaction after reading the heading is to skip, please hold on a sec. Unlike Elle I’m not a medical professional, but I think it would be remiss of me to not share the thoughts that led to me getting vaccinated. I too had apprehension with getting the COVID-19 vaccine, travel is ultimately what pushed my decision to get it.
Of course I don’t know what’s in it, but neither do I know what’s in the other local vaccines I got as an infant, nor medications I’ve taken, nor products I consume daily. What I do know is we’re in a global pandemic. As much as I love sunshine and can live on immune-boosting foods in abundance in Jamaica, I also know that the pandemic ending is a collective effort. I don’t believe a majority of the world can/will suddenly switch to an ultra-healthy lifestyle to fight COVID. It’s also about not gravely infecting persons I love, as I know at least 2 persons who have lost their battle from the virus.
For those who haven’t gotten vaccinated by choice, I somewhat understand the hesitancy, however I urge you to please ask yourself what another viable alternative for the world (not just yourself) is. After 2+ years, the ‘wait and see’ method seems to only be prolonging the limitations we all detest.
Hoping that you all walk good and be safe. Happy travelling and new year! Let’s make this a better one all around.
Thanks for stopping by, Jhunelle! She’s the first Jamaican travel blogger I ever discovered, and remains a favourite to this day. Apply at least five resolutions from her list to your new year goals and I know you’ll have a rewarding 2022 if you do. Stay safe, and walk good! Nuff love.
Jhunelle is a Jamaican who wants to see the world, starting with her home country. She shares budget-friendly experiences, travel tips and discount codes on her blog SimplyLocal.life and on Instagram .
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