Updated: May 7
To help you begin the new year on a green note, I have already recommended you some eco-friendly gifts you can get for your friends and family. But what about the gifts for yourself or for our mother Earth? New Year’s resolutions are a great way to incorporate new sustainable habits into your daily life. Here are 21 zero-waste New Year’s resolutions for next year that will make the new year happier, healthier, and more eco-friendly.
Get a reusable coffee cup
As much as 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used every year. If you get takeaway coffee just once a week, that amounts to more than 50 cups per year. Reusable cups come in all shapes and sizes, are safer for your health, make great gifts, and may get you some discounts. So if you still don’t have a reusable coffee cup, it’s about time you get one.
Start recycling or composting
If you’re not sure how to start recycling, there are plenty of resources that can help you with that. In no time, you’ll know what goes where without much thinking. And if you want to go one step further, consider composting too. It’s really easy if you have a backyard, but even if you live in a small apartment, it’s still possible.
Ditch plastic bags
There’s no place for plastic bags in 2021. Keep some reusable produce bags and a tote bag in your car and in your backpack so that you never forget them again.
Stop shopping mass market
Cheap clothes don’t last long and don’t look great. Shop less, invest in high-quality pieces, and buy second hand when it’s possible. Did you know that are several benefits of shopping second hand?
Reconsider your gift-giving habits
When in doubt, go for gift certificates or experience gifts. Instead of buying new wrapping paper all the time, check out our sustainable gift wrapping guide.
Get a reusable utensil set
Instead of torturing yourself (and the planet) with plastic utensils, get a reusable utensil kit with a straw, a knife, a spoon, and a fork. Or don’t buy anything new at all and keep one of your forks in the pocket of your backpack.
Period pads and tampons create lots of waste that can’t be recycled. Consider replacing them with zero-waste alternatives such as menstrual cups and reusable pads. Do you need more convincing to use a menstrual cup?
Cut meat and dairy
Not everyone can go vegan overnight, and that’s totally fine. To start eating more plant-based food, try doing Meatless Mondays and opt for a plant-based version whenever it’s available.
Get familiar with local brands and markets
Sustainability is not just about the materials the item was made of. It’s also about how long it took to get to you and how much carbon has been omitted on the way. Shopping locally is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and buy some unique high-quality items.
Educate yourself on the environmental issues
If you want to commit to a zero-waste lifestyle, you need to know why you are doing it and why it’s important. Watch some documentaries or read books about the environment so that you have more motivation to stick to your principles.
Learn some upcycling tricks
Improving your sewing and mending skills can increase the lifespan of your household items and appliances. Besides, it will prevent you from buying new things and will save you some money.
Opt for low-waste groceries
If there’s a way to buy your favorite groceries with less waste, go for it. Fruit and vegetables will do just fine without an extra layer of packaging. Buying in bulk also helps to cut the packaging waste and make the price more affordable. Read here more tips on sustainable grocery shopping.
Get into politics
While making a difference on an individual level is important, stricter governmental restrictions are by far the best way to make a big change. So don’t forget to vote and research the candidates opinions on the environmental issues.
Takeout creates so much unnecessary trash -- paper bags, plastic plates, plastic utensils, napkins, etc. If you are not into cooking, consider meal prepping or stocking up on some frozen foods that you can make in a few minutes.
Make your own cleaning products
The vast majority of cleaning products come in recyclable packaging and contain tons of chemicals. Contrary to popular belief, the chemicals aren’t really necessary to clean your home. Look up some recipes, make a big batch, and enjoy an affordable zero-waste cleaning product.
Say “no” to freebies
Frankly, it can be hard to say “no” to free stuff. Every time you get offered something, try asking yourself whether the value it will bring you is really worth it. I have a list of 20 items that can be easily refused.
Rethink your laundry routine
If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate, say goodbye to the dryer and air dry your clothes instead. And while you are at it, consider replacing your laundry detergents with some sustainable alternatives.
If you are quite a bookworm, consider switching to Kindle to minimize the number of books you purchase. And for those of you who wouldn’t trade paperbacks for anything else, libraries or second-hand bookstores can be a great sustainable alternative for new books.
Nowadays, living a zero-carbon life is pretty much impossible. Luckily, there are ways to gm your carbon footprint. Many travel companies offer carbon offsets to neutralize the emissions produced during your trip. You can also get a subscription from an offset vendor that would let you offset all your household’s emission every month.
Learn your labels
When it comes to sustainable products, you should trust labels, not words. Get familiar with eco-friendly labels and certifications, learn more about the companies you support, and find out more about the fabrics you wear.
Connect with nature
A low-waste lifestyle is a big commitment, so it’s important to keep in mind what you are doing it for. Get out in nature as much as you can, admire the rivers, forests, or fields in your area, and remember that even a small change can make a big difference.