With the new year here, you might be wondering what resolutions you should adopt for the coming year. While I’m sure you’ve got a few personal goals you’ll be striving for this year, why not add a few zero waste resolutions to your list? Here are 10 easy zero waste New Years resolutions you should consider striving for. You don’t have to pursue each one, but consider adopting at least one or two!
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
1. Remember to bring your reusable bags
It may seem like a small ambition, but we all know what happens when we forget our reusable bags. Miles of plastic bags take their place. The worst part is most cashiers will put only a few items into one bag, which just leads to more plastic bags being used. Do the planet (and yourself) a favor by making it a goal to remember your reusable bags. A good way to do that is to stash a few in your purse, car, work bag or even attach a fold up reusable bag to your key chain. You can also remind yourself by saying “keys, wallet, phone, bags” before leaving your home to make sure you have all your important items on hand.
2. Hit up the farmers market more
The farmers market doesn’t just have to be a summer thing, or a once and a while visit. If you have one available to you year round, support it by going every weekend! Not only will you be supporting a small business, but you’ll also be lowering your carbon footprint. Think about it: Farmers markets support local farmers. Their food is grown locally and with few to no pesticides. It takes less time to get to you, which results in a smaller carbon footprint (meaning it doesn’t need to sit in traffic and spew out emissions for days upon days). Plus, it’s generally easier to shop plastic free at the farmers market. Most items will be sold without packaging. Just remember to bring your reusable totes and reusable produce bags! You can get a surplus of veggies and fruits at the market year round. Most markets also sell dairy, meat, and bread.
3. Start composting
If you aren’t already composting, make it a goal to do it this year. You don’t have to have an actual compost pile in order to compost either. I personally live in an apartment so I don’t have the room for that either. Instead, I have a stainless steel compost pail I put all my food scraps in. Then, come Saturday, I take it with me on my weekly farmers market visit and dump the food scraps off. They collect them there and turn them into fertile, rich compost for me. It’s very hands off and I highly recommend you do the same. See if your local farmers market has a food scrap drop off you can participate in. If not, you can try to find a local community garden that will take the food scraps off your hands. Share Waste is a great resource that can help you find someone near you who will be willing to take the scraps off your hands. This will divert so much waste from the landfill!
4. Reduce food waste
Being zero waste isn’t just thinking about plastic waste, after all. It’s reducing waste in all forms. Food waste is a big problem: 40% of food in America is wasted. Plus, that food waste just ends up in a landfill where it produces methane emissions that contribute to climate change. Not to mention the average American family loses $1500 to food waste every year – isn’t that insane? Join the fight against food waste and give my ebook, How to Reduce Food Waste, a read this year. You’ll become a food waste warrior in no time and save yourself hundreds of dollars!
5. Bring your own containers for restaurants and takeout
Sometimes, we can’t finish the food on our plate at a restaurant. And, sometimes we just want takeout. In both scenarios, our food tends to get put into plastic packaging. This is avoidable, if we just plan a bit ahead of time. If you’re going to a restaurant and know ahead of time, I recommend swiping a mason jar or a stainless steel tiffin. Even Tupperware from home will do. At the end of your meal, when you can’t finish anymore, you can just put everything into your container. For takeout, just call the place ahead of time and ask them if you can bring your own container. Just make sure the container you bring is clean. For certain food items, a mason jar or glassware works well. Multi-tiered tiffins are best for buffets or several different food items when you don’t want your food to touch.
6. Prepare more meals and snacks at home
It can be tempting to buy a snack or even a full meal while out and about, especially when you don’t bring anything from home. But this ultimately results in more waste. And, it tends to be unhealthy. Lets face it – the snacks in the vending machine aren’t designed to keep you healthy, they’re designed to make you impulse buy them. You can avoid this altogether by prepping ahead of time at home. Making your own lunch and packing a few snacks for yourself at home will save you money, be healthier, and reduce waste. Who could argue with that? You can pack your lunch in a tiffin or glassware. Double points if you also bring a reusable water bottle and reusable cutlery from home with you. Snacks can be packed in reusable cloth or silicone bags. Or, if it’s uncut fruit (like a whole apple or orange), just wrap it in a cloth napkin.
7. Make your own cleaning products
Conventional cleaning products are not only toxic, but also come in plastic packaging. Instead of relying on them, I suggest making the switch to DIY cleaning products if you haven’t already. They’re not only easy to make, but also great for your wallet too – you also won’t have to worry they put your health at risk (I’m looking at you, bleach). Personally, I love cleaning with orange peel vinegar cleaner. It’s an all-purpose spray that really does wonders for every room of the house.
8. Create a zero waste laundry routine
Speaking of cleaning, take it a step further and develop a zero waste laundry routine that works for you. I personally love a combination of soap nuts, DIY liquid detergent, wool dryer balls and a plastic-free stain remover stick. That always gets the job done and reduces the amount of waste my laundry routine makes.
9. Eat more plant based
The more plants you eat, the lower carbon footprint you’ll have. You don’t have to completely give up meat and dairy, but cutting back on them will certainly help. Plus, more often than not, meat and dairy tend to be wrapped in plastic anyway. You might as well forgo the waste, and the carbon footprint, these food items have altogether. If you must eat meat and dairy, try to get it organic, package free and local whenever possible.
10. Donate unwanted, but good quality items to thrift stores
Sometimes, when you’re cleaning and de-cluttering, you’ll notice some items you no longer want. Instead of just tossing them out, where they’ll go to a landfill, consider donating them to a local thrift store. As long as the items still functions and is in good quality, this will give it a second chance at life and you will reduce one more thing from entering the landfill. Look and see what your local thrift store accepts before you bring it there, of course. Generally speaking, glassware, plates, clothing, books, toys and even some furniture items will likely be accepted.
What are some of your zero waste New Years resolutions? Will you be attempting anything off this list?