New Year’s resolutions seem to be more controversial than ever in 2020. It’s cliche, and writing down a list of resolutions won’t change your life. Working on goals and changing your lifestyle, however, can make all the difference. One of my goals this year is to waste less.
1. Plastic is Scary
Plastic has been public enemy number one on the news for the past year. I don’t need to tell you why it’s bad because you already know. If, like me, you need a kick in the butt to do more about it, check out these 5 documentaries.
It is pretty easy to cut out the use of plastic bottles. Buy a reusable water bottle to fill up on water. They come in all shapes, styles and sizes:
There are even collapsible cups if you want to save space in your bag:
It buying plastic products to cut down on plastic seems counterproductive, you can search for these items in second-hand stores or ask friends and family if they have any spares. From my experience, buying a pretty, high-quality item that suits your exact needs will motivate you and keep you on track.
Two of the most wasteful industries are fashion and furniture. I prefer to shop in second-hand stores for both. If you are in the USA then Savers may be your best bet. Their prices are by far the best and they offer additional discounts every month. Twice a year they offer 50% off everything. The Savers in Rhode Island happens to offer amazing deals on antique furniture.
Obviously, there are many different second hand stores and they all have their pros and cons. There are vintage ones, non-profits and stores specific to certain items. You can also check Craigslist, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace.
Even Amazon offers many used items at a discount. When you search for any item, you can check to see if it says “new and used”:
Amazon will always tell you what is wrong with the item. They are also great about returns. So there is no risk in buying a second-hand item from them. If you are not satisfied, you can easily return it and buy a new one instead.
I almost always buy used or refurbished items from Amazon. The MacBook air that I am writing this on was bought refurbished from Amazon. It has worked perfectly for two years despite being five years old.
3. Proper Disposal/Donation
So many people are into Marie Kondo and her minimalism. It is important to know how to correctly dispose of the items you no longer need. This goes for food items as well. Organic matter is hazardous when it ends up in a landfill since it can’t biodegrade. The same goes for fabric.
Textile recycling is the way to go when your items are too worn out to donate. Unfortunately, many people will throw in ripped and useless clothes to thrift stores. It’s important to keep in mind that they cannot sell these items. Many of them have contacts for proper textile disposal for this very reason. So if you can’t find one near you, see if your local second-hand store can point you in the right direction or add your textiles to their own recycling pile.
Electronics, cords, light bulbs and batteries also have their proper disposal bins. Never throw these items in the regular trash. Most malls and larger shopping areas will have a place for these. Best buy has a convenient disposal system with several categories!
Christmas trees are too large for your compost and you may not be able to burn them yourself. Contact your local Christmas tree farm or see if your city is setting up bins. New York City for example will take trees off the curb on certain days. Most cities offer something like this. There are similar programs for pumpkins after Halloween.
4. Just Keep Trying
We all make mistakes! If you’re dying of thirst and there’s no other option, buy the water bottle and work harder next time. We all make mistakes. It’s better to have a million people trying to be less wasteful than a handful of perfect zero-waste experts who generate a jarful or trash a year.
For more tips, check out this zero-waste kit. It’s inexpensive and easy to put together. Having it with you in your car or purse can make a huge difference.
The featured image is taken from Waste 360!