Need a New Year’s resolution? This year, try committing to lessening your “waste impact,” or the negative consequences that stem from the things you throw in landfills. Here are some ideas that can help you start and maintain your Zero-Waste resolution for 2014:
When purchasing items for bundling up in the chilly weather, overcome American consumerism by reducing the number of items you buy. Always seek out more quality, functional and longer-lasting products. Look for Fair Trade certifications, which guarantees fair wages and sustainability standards for producers in developing nations. Also check products’ durability ratings and reviews: a longer-lasting item will make the purchase “worth it” and discourage materialism. Patagonia and Vaude are two cold-weather clothing companies that recognize their “responsibility” for environmental and social justice.
A new start on the year can still include the reuse of last year’s materials. That includes your shopping bags! Reusable bags drastically reduce the waste created by single-use plastic/paper bags. Plus, since many cities are taking the sustainable initiative of taxing grocery bags, bringing your own can save you money. ChicoBag’s rePETe line of reusable bags are made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles. The company is also committed to reaching zero waste through a strict waste diversion program at their headquarters and manufacturing locations.
With what cannot be reused, make sure to recycle. After the holiday season, Americans are left with a lot of leftovers - primarily in the form of wrapping paper. Diverting this waste from the landfill can significantly decrease our carbon footprint. Check with your local recycling center to see what items they take, using this great tool from Earth 911.
Respect your local recycling facilities and its employees by making one of your 2014 goals "proper waste diversion." Mindfully sorting waste can help ease the jobs of recycling center workers (reducing fines in the process!) and allow you personally to see what you’re sending to the landfill. Revamp your kitchen by having three separate bins: recycling, compost, and landfill. If you don’t already backyard compost, the US Environmental Protection Agency has created this guide for a simple start to composting.
We hope these tips spur your interest in having an eco-friendly 2014. Happy New Year from the Center for Sustainability!
Contributed by Blair Libby ‘16, Sustainability Intern, Waste Diversion