Happy New Year and welcome to a new decade! I am not usually someone who sets new years resolutions. I am a firm believer that with any new goal, “There is no time like the present!” Why wait for a new day to start bettering yourself and crushing goals when you can simply start today!
I do believe that there is some magic in a new year and a mass volume of people all working towards a better life together though. So in light of the new year I thought it would be fun to use that motivation to put together a list of resolutions you can make to be more environmentally conscious as we enter this new year and new decade! All of these tips are simple and will actually save you money.
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Buy Less & Shop Second Hand First
Tip number one is so easy! JUST. BUY. LESS. Ditch the retail therapy. (I might be talking to myself a little bit.) When we are bored or in a funk we tend to look to new stuff as a way to elicit a dopamine rush. This quickly wears off and we usually realize we could have easily done with out and we would rather have the money instead of the items.
When you are thinking about buying something try writing the item down and spending a few days thinking about it to decide if you really want/need it or if you are acting on impulse. Write down the price of every item you stopped yourself from buying and at the end of the month see how much money you saved! That is a REALLY good feeling and lasts a lot longer than the temporary excitement of a new purchase.
If you decide that you truly do need to buy something, try to find the item secondhand first. Ask people you know if they have an extra of the item or if you can actually borrow the item instead. Check your local Buy Nothing groups, craigslist or Facebook marketplace. There are lots of apps and website for shopping second hand. (See my list below with referral codes to save money off your first order.) Spend a day going to yardsales and browsing thrift shops (my favorite pass time when I’m not in the garden center of lowe’s). If these options don’t work then buy it new, but try to find an option that is eco friendly and is from an ethical company.
I am not affiliated with any of the following companies, but they are companies I have personally used to shop & sell second hand. All of their customers get a referral code to share and I am sharing mine with you so you can save a little money if you decide to try them.
Poshmark – Save $10 off your first order. I have used them to buy and sell clothing. You can find other items as well.
Mercari – Save $10 off your first order. I have sold over 50 items through them and I have bought items from them as well. I love to browse for books and clothing on their app, but they have other items as well such as video games, kitchenware and home decor.
OfferUp – I have used this app for buying and selling locally. Use my code to save $5 off your first order.
ThriftBooks – This is my favorite site to use to for secondhand books. Use my code to save 15% off your first order. They have a great rewards program too!
ThredUp – This is another great secondhand clothing site. You can find a lot of clothing in new or like new condition. My coded gives you $10 off your first order. They also have a great closet clean out program.
Let me know if there are any other secondhand sites you use!
Use Less Single Use Plastic
This one can be tricky sometimes, but we can all find ways to improve. This is as simple as bringing your own reusable bags and produce bags to the store with you. Like these ones here and here. You can easily make your own at home though! (or skip the bags entirely!)
Ditch paper towels and use rags instead. You can purchase ones like these or you can simply cut up an old towel, bed sheet or t-shirt. Here is a great tutorial for making your own “Unpaper towels.” or check out this one here.
Switch to cloth diapers, beeswax wraps and reusable straws. Use a bamboo toothbrush like this one. There are so many ways to use less plastic! Keep a set of reusables in the car for just in case trips.
Reduce Food Waste (Compost)
Another great way to lower your environmental impact (and save a lot of money!) is to reduce your food waste. The average 2 person household throws away $750 in food a year! Wow, that is a humbling statistic! What could you do with all that extra money if you were buying only what you needed? How many people could we feed?
Try meal planning so you only buy as much as you can use. Then store it properly so it lasts! If you end up with food that is going to go bad, get creative. Juice produce or freeze it for later. Dehydrate things like herbs, fruit, mushrooms and more. Turn overripe bananas into bread, pancakes or muffins. Save veggie scraps to make your own broth. (Check out my recipe for making veggie scrap broth here.)
For all remaining food waste consider starting a home compost instead of tossing it in the trash. If a home compost isn’t an option for you, check if your area offers compost pick up or drop offs, or ask around if one of your neighbors will let you drop off your scraps to their compost. When you throw away food it doesn’t break down properly in the landfill so it produces methane gas, which if you didn’t already know is one of the largest contributors to climate change.
My last food waste tip is to use a company like Imperfect Foods and or Misfits Market that are on a mission to reduce food waste by shipping ugly produce (the produce stores won’t sell due to appearance) to households at a discount. I love Imperfect Food because it is customizable. Use my link here for $10 off your first box.
Use less Water
The average person uses 82 gallons of water a day. Taking shorter showers can significantly reduce water usage. Turning the water off while you brush your teeth can also reduce a lot of water waste. Another thing you can do is put a bucket in the shower when it is heating up and use that water to wash dishes or water plants! Use a rain barrel to water your garden. Add water conscious appliances and toilets to your home. There are a lot of ways to conserve water and every drop counts!
Repair & Repurpose
Another great way to create less trash and also save money is to simply repair the items you already own or to repurpose them. Do you have a sock with a hole in it? Sew it! Is it finally time to let go of a shirt you’ve had for 10 years? Cut it up as rags for cleaning! Or make a t-shirt quilt like this one here. Has your pillow seen better days? Use the stuffing to fill a dog bed, meditation cushion, or a decorative pillow. Use a small decorative trash can as a pot for a plant. A tote that’s missing a lid can be used as a container garden for things like potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and more. Get creative and learn a new skill!
If you can’t find a way to reuse it or repair it yourself, someone else might, so post it in your local Buy Nothing Groups!
Bonus: Pick up trash
I know I said 5, but there are so many great ways to easily reduce waste and lessen your environmental impact so I decided to share a bonus tip: Pick up trash every chance you get. If you are walking into the grocery store and notice trash on the ground, carry it with you to the front of the store and throw it away. (Then wash your hands!) If you go for a walk, take a bag with you to pick up trash along the way.
When we went to the beach last year I was in shock and disgust at the amount of trash littering the beach. Trash that was literally inches from the trash cans. We even watched in horror as a group of people nearby stood up to leave and left a mountain of garbage behind. I’m not a confrontational person so I didn’t march over and give them a piece of my mind like I was in my head (and I probably should have), but I did clean up all their trash as they were walking away in hopes that they might see it and realize they could have done better.
You can’t always change the actions of others, but you can control your own actions. Clean up trash whenever you can and try to set a good example for others. Even better, arrange a community clean up day in your area!
I hope you find some inspiration from these tips and put them to use this year! Share in the comments more ways you are eco-friendly. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook and check out some of my other posts!