The thought of going to zero waste can be hard to envision. Many of the products we consume, from food to technology, use a material that can end up in landfills.
In 2018, the U.S. generated 292.4 million tons of waste or 4.9 pounds per person per day. The landfill and recycling waste generated in the United States each year is primarily paper and paperboard waste, both of which can be recycled. For perspective, Amazon ships an average of 608 million packages per year, most of which are in paperboard boxes. According to the EPA, nearly 47% of paper and paperboard is recycled, meaning about 304 million Amazon boxes end up in landfills each year. Pretty crazy, right?
With the new year in full swing and many of us still feeling motivated to make an impactful change in our lives, there could be no better time than right now to begin your zero waste journey! A zero-waste lifestyle utilizes various approaches to make this lifestyle work for you. This lifestyle encompasses more than simply recycling. It is the act of reducing and eventually eliminating the use of disposable items. And contrary to popular belief, it's completely possible! So, here are our zero waste tips to reduce, reuse, and recycle your way to reach your sustainable New Year's resolution.
Don't just start throwing out stacks of papers, bills, and legal documents at the drop of a pin. Going paperless is a process that takes time. However, it is possible with these zero waste tips. You can switch from paper bills to e-bills. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it's faster and more secure. Plus, if you choose automatic billing, it will save you lots of time on your journey of becoming zero waste.
Transition from Disposable
Instead of opting for single-use items such as plastic bottles, zip lock bags, and utensils, start looking for reusable alternatives. You can switch to a reusable stainless steel water bottle that can last up to 12 years on average! There are a ton of reusable food bags on the market that are made of sustainable silicone. Not only is it a great zero waste tip, but they are machine washable, studier, and offer a tighter seal. So not only are you becoming zero waste, but your food stays fresher longer, helping to reduce food waste in landfills. It's the best of both worlds!
Related: How To Eliminate Single-Use Plastic to Live a Plastic Free Life
Repurpose Old Items
As we work towards a zero-waste lifestyle, some ways we can do this is by repurposing old items we have around the house. Items like takeout containers, damaged clothes, and used candle containers can be given a new life. For example, your Ardor Bin candle container can be reused to hold toothbrushes, pencils, or even a small plant. You can get creative with your ideas and craft things that work for you. In addition, by repurposing these items, you're also saving money. So, your sustainable New Year's resolutions can also help with your financial goals! Save the planet and those coins– a win for everyone!
Use What You Have
Surprisingly, there are many alternative uses for items that are strictly marketed for one. When learning how to go zero waste, you often have to think outside the box, literally! Things you once thought couldn't possibly be used for any other reason actually can. For instance, an interesting zero waste tip is reusing old milk cartons. You can use the bottom of the carton to plant a tree. The carton helps protect the seed from the elements, and when planted it will degrade as the tree grows. Cool right?! There are lots of fun ways to reuse items you might have discarded in your zero waste lifestyle.
According to the EPA,35.3 million tons of wasted food went to landfills in 2018. That is about 30–40 percent of the food supply in the United States. One of the best zero waste tips to combat these astonishing numbers is by composting. Composting reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint. Plus, it enriches the soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and encourages the production of good bacteria. All these things are beneficial for healthy plant growth.
You can start composting right at home. All you need is a bin and a little knowledge on how to go zero waste with composting. There are many items we have and use every day that are compostable, items like paper towels, nail clippings, human hair, and more.
Related: An Eco-Friendly Gifting Guide For All Who Love The Holiday Season & Sustainability
When it's all said and done, sometimes we still end up with items that need to be recycled. But ensuring you are recycling correctly will help you reach sustainable New Year's resolutions you may have!
So, start by doing your research. You can look up the guidelines for what can and can't be recycled and how they should be sorted. These guidelines can usually be found on websites for your city's government.
As guidelines can vary by area, you want to be as informed and up-to-date as possible to start building a successful zero-waste lifestyle.
Additionally, a lot of odd things you thought couldn't be recycled actually can. Items such as batteries, lightbulbs, eyeglasses, razors, and even crayons can be recycled at specialized facilities. Who would have guessed? Just be sure to do your research before dropping off items at the facilities.
A zero-waste lifestyle is a journey. It won't happen overnight. But, you can start today by following these 3 guidelines of Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling, and from here you'll be on your way to reaching your sustainable New Year's resolutions to live a less wasteful life. A life that’s good for you and the planet! Just take it one step at a time.