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Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions 

A new year naturally allows for us to reflect, reevaluate, and rethink how we can live our lives more aligned with the values we hold. Resolutions usually revolve around what we can add into our life in the new year, whether it’s more exercise, healthy foods, reading, etc. But what if we rethought how we conceive resolutions? Instead of always making goals to add more into our lives, what about creating goals that remove things from our lives, especially ones that aren’t serving us or our planet? In turn, we might even live a life that feels fuller.  

Below are three resolutions that can help you both curb consumption and limit waste as we head into the new year: 

Replace single-use plastic with long-lasting alternatives 

While banning single-use plastic water bottles has been the focus in the waste world for years, there are many household items that can be replaced with non-plastic alternatives. This process, while important, can also be overwhelming; our world still operates with a lot of plastic in it and replacing it can be seen as time-consuming and expensive. It doesn’t have to be though! An accessible way to tackle replacing plastic in your home would be to approach it starting room by room.  

  1. Start with a smaller room, like a bathroom, and write down what plastic items you could replace with an alternative material.  
  1. Once all the items that can be replaced are recorded, use what you have at home, look for items you can refill, or shop secondhand for long-lasting alternative items that are made of glass or metal. Fun fact: glass and metal can be recycled an infinite number of times!

    Tip: A great place to find reusable items are at refill shops or the bulk section of a grocery store to eliminate the plastic packaging. Some local refill stores even deliver reusable household items to your door! 
  1. Once finished with one room, move to the next and repeat until all the rooms of your house have been accessed and updated with non-plastic or reusable materials.  

Through this process, you can make your house full of more sustainable options at your own pace.

Swap clothes with friends and family 

While buying secondhand or thrift shopping is a great way to acquire new clothes, unfortunately a lot of clothes that are donated to thrift shops still make their way to the landfill. One way to add new pieces to your wardrobe is to hold clothing swaps with your friends and family. Continuously hold these throughout the year by adding them to birthday parties or get-togethers as a fun activity. It doesn’t require much preparation either! Just a table and a clothing rack if desired.  

  1. Encourage everyone to bring 5-10 items 
  1. Lay items on a table or hang them on a clothing rack 
  1. Have people throughout the party “shop” around and take new-to-them articles of clothing 
  1. After the event is over, whatever is still left can be donated to a local thrift store or charity that is accepting donations.  

This practice will lessen the amount of clothes that are donated while also giving the clothes that were swapped a new life with your friends and family! Plus, it’ll be fun to see them rock some of your old wardrobe in a new way! 

Eat vegetarian once a week 

It’s been well-documented that raising animals for human consumption contributes heavily to methane gas being released into the atmosphere, which is raising the average temperature of our planet. While going vegetarian or vegan is not possible or healthy for everyone for numerous reasons, it’s easier and more accessible to commit to not eating meat once a week, rather than cutting meat out completely. This idea was popularized a few years ago in the media, with it being called “Meatless Mondays.” It might be intimidating or confusing at first to start making meals without meat, but it’s possible with small steps! Start by making your favorite meals and substituting meat with meatless options, such as tofu, tempeh, or soy meat; you can also create dishes that focus on highlighting vegetables, grains, and legumes. This article is a great place to start if you are looking to be inspired for vegetarian recipes.  

While these three sustainable new year’s resolutions can help you curb consumption and limit waste, there are so many ways one can be more sustainable in one’s daily life. The world of sustainability can be overwhelming at times, with the pressure to be perfect or to never waste a single item. But the goal of sustainability isn’t to be perfect – it’s about slow, small changes that will be long lasting. For small steps turn into ripples, ripples turn into waves, and waves make big changes!  

Happy New Year from RethinkWaste!