Rethink New Year’s Resolutions

From actions big to small, every new commitment to sustainable living can have a dramatic impact on our environment! As the year draws to a close, RethinkWaste would like to provide a few sustainability tips that we could all put on our New Year’s Resolutions! Consider adding some of these ideas to your everyday routine. Every bit helps!

1. Reduce and Reuse

At RethinkWaste, we like to guide ourselves using the 4R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot). While these are all important in reducing our environmental impact on the planet, reducing and reusing are the most significant actions we can take on an individual basis. Reducing and reusing is a guarantee that items will not end up in the landfill!

Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Start using a refillable water bottle
  • Make a grocery list to avoid purchasing excess food
  • Save and reuse plastic bags
  • Repurpose old clothing (for example, to use as a rag)
  • Repurpose glass jars into handy containers

2. Make your own coffee

If you’re a coffee drinker, you may enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning. However, buying from coffee shops produces a lot of waste! Usually, the cups and straws are not recyclable or compostable. By making coffee at home, you’re able to eliminate waste, and try out all sorts of different coffee blends. We recommend using coffee grounds in a french press or drip coffee to avoid extra waste from single-serve coffee machines. After brewing, you can place the grounds in your compost bin or in your own garden: it makes for great compost!

3. Take a sustainability-themed class

Education is really important! Attending a sustainability-themed class or workshop can all help us learn to live with less waste. For example, RethinkWaste just recently hosted a kombucha workshop, where our participants learned to lower their grocery store waste! Many organizations also teach classes in areas such as zero-waste cooking, which can help lower grocery bills, reduce environmental damage, and make our food last longer! Keep posted on events by subscribing to our newsletter or check offerings from our partners at San Mateo County Office of Sustainability!

4. Get educated about waste

Are you afraid that you’re disposing of things in the wrong bin? Fear not, RethinkWaste can help! RethinkWaste hosts public, school, and business tours of our Shoreway Environmental Center (currently virtual), that can help you figure out exactly how to sort your waste and where it goes afterwards. Questions can also be sent to info@rethinkwaste.org, where we can answer any further waste-related questions you may have!

5. Unplug devices you’re not using

Did you know? Even if you turn off your electronics, they may still draw power from your outlet. While this is a small amount, it can add up over the course of a year! Just by unplugging, you’d save on your electricity bill while helping eliminate fossil fuel emissions from electricity consumption!

6. Try some plant-based meals

According to the United Nations Special Report on Climate Change and Land, reducing our consumption of animal products is one of the most effective strategies at countering climate change. We can reduce our impact on this planet one meal at a time! There are many plant-based recipes and restaurants that would surely be delectable. 

7. Invest in rechargeable batteries

Did you know that you can purchase rechargeable AA and AAA batteries? By using rechargeable batteries, you’ll be able to lower your electronic waste (e-waste). Every year, e-waste is becoming a bigger part of our waste stream. This is a worrying trend as e-waste is very harmful to the health of our workers, our community, and our environment. A one-time investment in rechargeable batteries helps reduce battery waste on a longer-term basis. 

8. Use public transit

If you’re able, catch a ride on the train or the bus! Not only does this help with urban congestion, you’d also be reducing urban pollution and carbon emissions. Of all the actions that help the environment, taking public transportation is one of the most impactful and immediate on our environmental outcomes. 

9. Reconsider: Do I really need it?

Whenever you are deciding on a purchase, ask yourself: Do I really need it? Sometimes, it might be easy to impulsively put things in your shopping cart. By asking ourselves this one simple question, we can make sure we think about everything we’re buying. It helps us recall that reducing and reusing are our most powerful tools in eliminating waste. 

We hope that these tips were helpful! Every action counts towards reducing our waste and improving the health of our communities and environment!