Low waste living has never been more popular, and it’s not hard to see the appeal. Finding ways to reduce waste in your home not only has the potential to save you money and space, but it’s also a great way to lessen your environmental impact. Still, we know that the idea of adopting a low waste lifestyle can be pretty intimidating for beginners. The good news is that you don’t need to install solar panels on your roof or have a picture-perfect pantry to make a positive impact.
So, why not kickstart your low waste journey with some realistic goals for the new year? Whether you choose to adopt all 10 of these resolutions or just one, you’ll be doing the planet a solid!
1. Break Up With Single-Use Plastics
It’s difficult for the average person to be truly plastic-free. Fortunately, you don’t have to have a “go big or go home” mentality to make a positive impact on the planet. For a more realistic goal, aim to reduce your reliance on single-use plastics in 2022. This includes water bottles, straws, to-go cutlery, grocery bags, and other plastic items that are often thrown away after one use. No matter which single-use items you use regularly, chances are there’s a reusable alternative!
2. Cook More At Home
What’s not to love about cooking? It’s healthy, cost-effective, and scientifically proven to ease stress and boost your happiness. On top of all that, cooking at home is better for the environment. (Just think of all the to-go boxes, plastic bags, napkins, and single-use cutlery that you usually end up with whenever you get take-out.) Consider inviting a friend over to tackle a new recipe together for double the fun (and more accountability).
Pro tip: Have lots of leftovers? Skip the wasteful plastic wrap and use silicone bowl covers to keep your food fresh.
3. Use Your Own Containers
You can’t avoid restaurants and take-out shops forever, of course. If you want to avoid creating waste in the form of to-go boxes, consider keeping reusable food storage containers in your vehicle.
Many grocery stores also have bulk sections that make it easy for customers to use their own bags and containers. Don’t forget to weigh your containers beforehand!
4. Make The Shift To Thrift
If you love to shop, this New Year’s resolution will be super easy to keep. Rather than purchase items brand-new, consider buying them secondhand from thrift stores and consignment shops. Not only does buying items secondhand eliminate the need for excess packaging waste, but it also contributes to a more circular economy by keeping gently-used clothing in circulation.
Plus, it’s budget-friendly and fun! You can get started by joining buy/sell groups and checking out online consignment shops, like thredUP and The RealReal.
5. Skip The Gym (And The Car)
If “exercise daily” is one of your 2022 goals, think twice before signing up for that gym membership. Beyond being a breeding ground for germs, most gyms are big contributors to air pollution and have terrible indoor air quality to boot. And unless you’re lucky enough to have a gym within walking distance of where you live, you’ll probably have to drive there, which means you’re producing even more greenhouse gas emissions to break a daily sweat.
A better option is to skip the gym membership and exercise outdoors or at home. For example, maybe your goal could be to ride your bike more often to work. If that’s not realistic, consider making it a goal to get outside for a relaxing walk at least once a day, rain or shine.
6. Give Your Bathroom A Low Waste Upgrade
If going low waste feels overwhelming, try tackling things on a room-by-room basis. For example, if your bathroom is rife with plastic products, start gradually switching them out with eco-friendly bathroom products made from bamboo, stainless steel, and other sustainable materials.
Here are a few easy swaps to get you started:
- Swap disposable razors with a reusable safety razor
- Swap your plastic toothbrush for one made from bamboo
- Swap plastic tampons and pads with reusable menstrual products
7. Make Your Own Coffee
Grabbing a coffee on the go is a pretty wasteful habit when you think about it. You’re basically paying $1 to $5 a day for hot caffeine water. Not only that, but it also comes in a plastic-lined cup that’s guaranteed to end up in a landfill. So, why not make it a goal to brew more coffee at home? By investing in a coffee machine and a set of travel mugs, you can skip the wasteful cup and potentially save thousands of dollars annually. That’s a win for the environment and your wallet!
8. Learn About Your Local Recycling Program
Are you guilty of wish-cycling? Most people are. Wish-cycling is the act of placing questionable items in the recycle and hoping they get recycled. This hope-for-the-best strategy often causes more harm than good by contaminating the entire batch of recyclables. To avoid wish-cycling in 2022, get savvy about your local recycling program.
It only takes about five minutes of your time to visit your city’s website and learn about the different types of plastic your jurisdiction accepts.
9. Cut Back On Paper
Are you still receiving paper bills and magazine subscriptions in the mail? Cut the clutter and the waste by digitizing everything and going paperless. Signing up for bank e-statements is a great place to start. Simply go to your banking website, sign up for online banking, and set your preferences to e-statements. You can also significantly decrease the amount of promotional mail you receive by registering for DMAchoice, a mail suppression service that blocks mail for up to 10 years. (Note: You’ll need to pay a $2 to $3 processing fee to register.)
1. Ditch Dryer Sheets
It’s time to break up with dryer sheets. Not only are these wispy little sheets wasteful, but they’re usually coated with nasty chemicals that can cause headaches and breathing difficulties, all while contributing to air pollution. Fortunately, there are many dryer sheet alternatives to help make laundry day more sustainable. All-natural solutions like vinegar and baking soda reportedly do a great job of softening clothes.
Other options include dryer balls, foil balls, and reusable dryer sheets. See what we mean? Adopting a low waste lifestyle doesn’t need to be difficult. With these realistic goals, you can take your low waste journey one step at a time. Good luck!