Looking for 4 New Year's Resolutions to Reduce Waste? You've come to the right place! According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, 25% of Americans can’t maintain a New Year’s resolution through the first week of the New Year. #yikes But have no fear, this year we’re committed (VERY committed) to sticking to our top 4 New Year’s resolutions to reduce waste in 2016. We’re here to help you make a “green” change and stick to it.
1. Pack a Waste-Free Lunch According to wastefreelunches.org, you’ll save $250+ by using eco lunch gear like reusable lunch bags instead of brown paper bags. Add in how much money you could save by swapping going out to eat for healthy packed lunches? You’ve got yourself nearly $3,000 in yearly savings (CNN Money and Mint.com). Boom. If your 2016 new year's resolution is to reduce your “waste”-line, replacing the disposables in your brown bag lunch is a great place to start!
- Choose a reusable lunch bag or lunch box–find a sustainable replacement for the brown bag! Reusable lunch bags are attractive, easy to use and can save hundreds (if not thousands) of paper lunch sacks from ending up in landfills.
- Use reusable food containers to cut down on pre-packaged food purchases. You can control the portion size and save money by buying in bulk.
- Create a reusable accessory kit with utensils, napkins and more! It is estimated that 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in the US alone—and most are thrown out after just one use. And then there are paper napkins, disposable straws, single-serve condiment packaging…the little things that you might not think about add up to a big mess for our planet. Reusable options save money and reduce waste.
Sistema® Reusable Bento Box with Yogurt Pot
Built Gourmet to Go Insulated Lunch Tote
2. Bring Your Own (Reusable) Water Bottle In the U.S. alone, approximately 3.69 million pounds of PET bottles were sold in 2013. Of that, only about 7.5% was recycled. That means some 2.76 million pounds of plastic bottles ended up as waste, either in landfills or otherwise making their way to our oceans. And that’s JUST ONE YEAR. (Data from Container Recycling Institute). Here are some tips on choosing your water bottle:
- Consider size–Will you be able to refill your bottle throughout the day? Or do you need a larger reusable bottle to get you through until you can refill? Should the bottle fit in a child’s lunch bag? Or be should the reusable bottle be ready to travel?
- Decide on a material–Would you prefer a durable, stainless steel option or a naturally toxin-free, glass bottle? Want an economical option made from BPA-free plastic?
3. Ditch Paper Towels Paper towels are often processed with chemicals, like chlorine, that are toxic to humans. Then, the towels are usually wrapped in wasteful plastic (individually or in bulk) for retail sale. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost of transportation—of both raw materials to the manufacturer and of the finished product to retailers around the world. All of this for a thin piece of paper that is meant to be used once and then sent off to the landfill. This year, you can make a difference by reducing paper towel consumption. Even if each American only used one less towel each day, we could save some 571,230, 000 pounds of waste in one year!^ Swapping reusable cloths for the bulk of our paper towel use is simple, so why not make a new year's resolution to reduce paper waste? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Choose reusable paper towel replacements that are made from natural materials, like cellulose, and are compostable or biodegradable at the end of their usable life. Alternately, invest in cleaning towels and cloths with an extended life cycle (i.e. durable microfiber and cotton), and wash after each use in the washing machine.
- At home, swap out the roll of paper towels with a pack of washable EcoTowls cleaning cloths or a roll of Bambooee reusable bamboo towels. Keep a small basket on hand for used towels and replace them regularly with freshly washed ones.
- Use our reuseit exclusive cleaning cloths or Mü Microfiber reusable towels in the kitchen to wipe up spills and clean counters. Toss these towels in the microwave to sanitize, and wash in the washing machine as needed. Once it’s seen plenty of use in the kitchen, you can downgrade it for other types of cleaning—indoor or outdoor!
EcoTowl Reusable Wipes
4. Rethink Gift Wrap About half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans consume each year goes towards packaging, wrapping, and decorating goods.^ Traditional paper gift wrap almost always ends up in the garbage because several factors make it difficult to recycle or reuse. It’s usually very thin, containing few fibers worth recycling, and is often dyed or laminated. Many types of wrapping paper contain non-paper additives, like glitter and plastics, which cannot easily be separated. On top of that, we use a lot of tape to hold the wrap neatly in place, and often tear through it to get to the gift inside, essentially making it unusable. Why not give up paper gift wrap in favor of a more sustainable practice?
- Reusable gift wrap comes in many shapes, sizes and styles, making it an easy choice for green gift-giving.
- Stylish reusable bags are a great alternative to traditional gift wrap. By using a reusable bag to wrap your gift, you’re actually giving two gifts in one and empowering the recipient to reduce waste, too!
- Have some scrap fabric lying around the house? If you are crafty, you can jazz it up to make your own reusable gift wrap!
Bag-all Reusable Gift Bag, Small.
We hope you found our 4 New Year's Resolutions to Reduce Waste helpful. Just remember, whether you’re looking to make this year about creating a greener, healthier or happier life, each step you take makes a difference.
^Data care of the folks at Earth911!