For those of you that are ready to take your zero waste game to the next level, New Year is a great time to fully commit. Setting a resolution for the year can lead to these practices being followed well beyond the end of December. I actually got started living zero waste by making a New Year's Resolution in 2015!
New Year's Resolutions
There are so many different ways to reduce your waste, both big and small. If you're up for a big challenge though and ready to push yourself, these five ideas will test your limits.
1. Buy nothing new.
This is the resolution I am taking on this year, and it can be a challenge depending on where you live and your resources! It's an important one though. Every time we buy something secondhand we are reducing that item's impact on the planet and its carbon footprint. It also tends to be a lot cheaper and save us money that we can then spend on organic food and more expensive items! In order to buy nothing new, become familiar with the thrift stores in your city. You should also join your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook, join Nextdoor, and get familiar with Craigslist and Ebay. Consumables (food!) can obviously still be bought new, along with things like deodorant and toothpaste, but if you break a phone charger? Ask if your neighbor has one! Want a chest freezer? Start looking on Craigslist! The trick with buying nothing new will be patience. It may be tempting to run out and buy something new the second something breaks, but just take a breath. Borrow it in the meantime, and take a minute to find it used!
2. Take only public transportation, walk, or bike.
We have come to the point where we rely on our cars every day. Some of drive miles and miles to our work and back and rack up the mileage in a year. We also often drive a half mile instead of just walking. Or we don't even think to check the bus schedule that stops outside our house. This year, challenge yourself to only take public transportation or fuel-less transportation! Walk, bike, hop on the bus. Hitch a ride with a friend even? Giving up your car completely can be a huge deal if you use it regularly right now. But it can be really eye opening even if you just do it for a few days, a week or a month!
3. Eat no meat and/or dairy.
Our diets have a huge impact on the planet and our carbon footprint. Eating meat and dairy has an exceptionally high impact compared to fruits and veggies generally speaking. If you are able (without any risk to your health), give up eating meat and/or diary. Join your local Vegetarian or Vegan Facebook group if one exists to get started! Many places have monthly meetups to support you in learning more as well as tons of tried and true recipes. Going cold turkey (no pun intended!) may not be easy, but it may be easier than you actually think!
4. Cancel your trash pick-up.
Having trouble stopping yourself from buying that plastic package at the store? You won't be tempted anymore if you don't have a trash can to put it in! By cancelling your trash pick-up, you're going to push yourself to the absolute limits of zero waste. Full disclosure, I recognize that you will still make some trash (I practically did this and couldn't get to zero!), so maybe you'll have to add a bag to a friend's trash can. Depending on where you live too, this may or may not be feasible, or even allowed as some places require trash pick-up by law. But even if you can't really get rid of your trash pick-up, act like you cancelled it! Find ways to buy things second hand. Purchase food in bulk. Understand your recycling system. And compost all of your food scraps!
5. Eat food only grown within 100 miles of your home.
Buying locally grown food reduces its carbon footprint and waste dramatically. It also support local farmers, the local economy, and encourages community growth and kindness! Most of us have become detached from our food and where it comes from. We ship fruit from half way across the world instead of just buying what is in season in our own backyard. If you plan on taking on this resolution, join a local gardening club or group to find out what you can grow yourself. Do some research too about in season fruits and veggies and talk to your local farmers! When you go to the grocery store, check the labels to see whether the flour, grains, or other things were made in your home state! 100 miles may be a little small (especially if you live in a food desert), but you can adjust it as needed! Maybe it's only food grown in your state or even in the U.S. We need to start appreciating what we have locally, and find ways to cook meals with fresh ingredients!
Adjust the resolutions as needed
These five Zero Waste Resolutions are extreme and will be challenging. But they'll also pay off in terms of the environment, your health, and your pocket book! Even if you can't commit to doing one of these resolutions 100%, that's okay! Remember that every step forward is a step in the right direction so tailor these resolutions to what fits your lifestyle.
I'm committing to Buying Nothing New this coming year! What's your New Year's Resolution?