How to significantly reduce your waste with 9 easy, realistic Goals || New Years Resolutions

With the new year approaching, it’s the perfect time to reflect on this past year, and set goals for the coming year. I know a lot of people who don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but I think they’re all missing out (I still love y’all 🙂 ), because honestly, if you don’t set goals in life, you will become complacent. If you aren’t intentional about growing as a person, it’s just not going to happen. Thus, I urge everyone to think about your life: who you’ve been this past year, and who you want to be in the future…then set goals and stay focused throughout the year to make it happen! You can do it, and you’ll be so pleased at the end of the year to look back and see the growth in your life.

*If you don’t care to read about my goals, scroll to the bottom to see how you can significantly reduce your waste with realistic goals!

My 2016 goals:

  1. Switch all the chemical products in my home to all natural products
  2. Be more honest with myself and others: to speak up when something is on my mind instead of suppressing my thoughts and feelings
  3. To recycle more, and produce less waste

I did successfully switch all my chemical products to all-natural products this year which is really exciting for me. Since it would have been expensive and wasteful to switch all my products at once, I waited until I ran out of a product to replace it, and then I’d either DIY it or search for an all-natural option.
I also felt like I did make a dent in the whole being “more honest with myself and others” department, but I still need to work on that one.
I have definitely made progress with recycling more and producing less waste. However, I still have lots of growing to do there too.

At the beginning of last year, I had no idea what “zero waste” was, all I knew was that I wanted to do better things for the environment and live more mindfully of my impact in the earth and social community. In my journey, I discovered the zero waste movement and decided to take baby steps towards becoming zero waste. Over the course of this past year by taking baby steps, I’ve actually come a long way! So in 2017, I’m setting the goal higher!

My 2017 Goals

  1. Stay true to minimalism and only buy what I need
  2. Eat at home more (save money & eat healthy)
  3. Read and study The Bible daily (not just skim the words to mark it off my checklist)
  4. Be more loving and selfless towards all people
  5. Be completely ZERO WASTE by the end of the year!

Is True Zero Waste Attainable?

Being completely zero-waste is a controversial concept amongst the ZW community, but what I mean by “completely zero waste” is that I, personally don’t want to send anything to a landfill. Obviously, even if I’m buying from bulk stores using my own containers, the people providing the bulk foods will produce a small amount of waste…. But I cannot control the waste others produce, I can only reduce my own waste and be intentional about encouraging others to do the same.

Unfortunately, right now we live in a plastic society where true zero waste is not 100% attainable because the companies we buy from, and the factories our products come from likely still produce waste. Even so, the way I see it is that if I reduce my waste I will still make a huge difference.

Think about it, if we all went zero waste and the only waste going into landfills was from factories, that’s a huge difference. Think of all the k-cups, Q-tips, and random trash pieces here and there that would no longer be in landfills… It’s huge! So when people argue that being zero-waste is pointless or not attainable, I don’t believe it… Because statistically, the average person produces about *4.3 pounds of trash every day. On average, that’s about 120-133.3 pounds a month. Which is about 1,569.5 pounds a year. If you live the average lifespan of 78 years old, by the time you die, you would have produced approximately 122,421 pounds of trash. And that’s just YOU. One person, on a planet of 7 billion. I don’t even want to attempt to calculate how much waste that would be by the next generation, but I think you get the point. We are producing waste at a rate that cannot be sustained. Since the government isn’t doing a great job informing people about the inevitable change that must be made, people in the ZW community are trying to start from the bottom and crawl our way to the top (IE fix the policies of corporations and the government to really implement change on a larger scale).

Anyway, I’m done with my political and statistical ramblings. If y’all read through all of that, you guys are the real MVPs. So, onto what you can do!

How to Significantly Reduce Your Waste with 9 Easy, Realistic Goals

Here are some easy goals you can set for 2017 to reduce your waste and make a positive impact for the environment, broken down into steps to take in order so that achieving zero waste actually becomes a reality for you and your family. The idea is to start with one goal at a time, until you have that habit formed. That way, moving onto the next habit is a lot easier.

  1. Start by evaluating your waste. Pay attention to what you’re throwing in your trash so you know what you need to reduce and find replacements for. Once you have a good idea, it will be easier to make a personalized realistic goal.
  2. Recycle all the trash that can be recycled. Learn the recycling do’s and don’ts of your community. Learn where to take your recycling if you don’t have curbside pickup. Explore your options here.
  3. Bring re-usable shopping bags! Form the habit of bringing reusable shopping bags every where you go. Also invest in some reusable produce found here or here.
    *My trick to remembering my bags was this: if I forgot to bring my bags, my consequence was to carry everything out by hand. Let me tell you what, it only took a few times of doing that before I really made it a point to REMEMBER my bags.
  4. Buy in bulk when possible. Not only will this save money, it will help reduce your waste. If you aren’t ready to completely do away with a packaged product, or need certain products for children, etc., buying in bulk will help eliminate smaller packaging waste.
  5. Find a Farmers Market or a Local Co-op to shop at. The benefit to farmers markets and co-ops are that you’re not only supporting local business, you don’t have to deal with plastic packaging and produce stickers as found in grocery stores. At my local co-op, they also let you bring your own containers (and do tare weight) to reduce all the packaging, which is the most exciting for a Zero-Waster.
  6. Bring reusable coffee mugs, cutlery, straws and cups when dining out. You can find all of those things on Amazon or Etsy, or even at your local thrift shop.
  7. Strongly consider eating less meat. That’s a huge debate in the ZW community unfortunately, but the fact is that commercial meats are some of the biggest waste producers. I’m not anti-meat consumption, but I do believe in eating responsibly. Buy from local butchers, hunt your own meat, or go without. This might be harder for a lot of people since meat is almost a staple in the american diet, but don’t be discouraged because there are so many delicious foods that don’t have meat or dairy in them. It’s also a lot healthier for you, because if you’re eating less meat and dairy, typically you are replacing it with vegetables.
  8. Only buy what you need. I’m not wanting to tell anyone to straight up become a minimalist, but I definitely encourage everyone to get out of the “consumer” mindset that we are brainwashed with from birth. By only buying what you need, you drastically reduce your waste. This is a huge and life-changing way to live, and it’s liberating. Check out my post on minimalism here, if you’re interested in that. 
  9. Join a support group. This might sound super lame, but someone added me to a “Journey to Zero Waste” group on Facebook, and I have learned so much from that group because there are endless resources from the ZW community. There are also other Zero Waste groups specifically for Vegans, or specifically for Sustainable meat eaters, because those topics are very sensitive for people to discuss in the general zero-waste group. But these groups have really given me great ideas on how to reduce my waste, and it’s been extremely encouraging to be in a group with thousands of others with a common goal in mind – reducing our waste and saving the planet.

These 9 goals are a great place to start on your journey to zero waste and will drastically reduce your waste by the end of the year. You’d be surprised the impact it will make and how easy it is!

Good luck to all of you and remember, even if you make a small change, the impact in the long run will be huge! Every little thing makes a difference. Be a difference maker. Save the planet 😀

Subscribe for more posts on zero-waste alternatives and tips coming soon!

XOXO

Sisi

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*Duke University, Center for Sustainability & Commerce

 

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