There’s an allure to the idea of resetting. Of starting fresh. Of looking to the past as a guidepost, but knowing the future can be whatever you mold it into. It’s the reason why so many of us love New Year’s resolutions and the hope that surrounds them.
If you’re still debating what you’re going to change in your life for 2018, here’s a case for choosing to adopt a zero or less waste lifestyle, and why it’ll check off almost all of the resolutions you might be considering.
Common resolution #1: Stay fit and healthy
After days of overindulging and sedentary Netflix-binging, it doesn’t come as a surprise that bettering your physical health is the most common resolution made each year in the United States. Adopting a zero waste lifestyle is not only better for mama earth, but better for your body also.
Why going zero waste will help your stay fit and healthy:
You’ll eat more whole, fresh foods.
A big part of zero waste living is learning how to cook and eat without single-use plastic packaging, and one of the best ways to do this is to focus on “unpackaged” items like fresh fruits, vegetables and bulk items such as grains and legumes. There’s an inverse correlation between processed items in packaging and their health benefits, so by shopping with the environment in mind, you’ll automatically be buying foods that are better for your body.
You’ll drink more water.
More than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day, so a reusable water bottle is an essential item for zero waste-ers. Once you’re in the habit of taking a reusable water bottle or container with you wherever you go, you’ll also get into the habit of continually refilling it, and being well hydrated comes with a myriad of good health benefits – less headaches, fresher breath, more energy, clearer skin – the list goes on.
You’ll be more active.
Though the zero waste lifestyle focuses on landfill waste and not emissions, if you’re an environmentalist at heart, you’re conscious of your impact on the earth no matter the area. So for many, that means choosing to walk or ride a bike rather than driving or taking public transportation to get to work or run errands. That extra movement will do wonders for your physical and mental health.
Common resolution #2: Spend less money
A post-holiday hole in your wallet is a harsh reality for many, so it’s no wonder “spending less” is a major resolution. It’s a common misconception that transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle costs a lot of money, when it fact, it will actually help you save more.
Why going zero waste will help you spend less money:
You’ll adopt a “saying no” attitude.
Learning to simply say “no” is a major aspect of going zero waste. Saying “no” to unnecessary purchases, “no” to that $5 latte in a single-use cup in favor of making coffee at home, “no” to plastic-packaged takeout food and cooking instead. So much of the trash we create comes from our culture of rampant consumption and consumerism. Learning to decipher an impulse buy from a necessary purchase builds a strong a foundation for living with less waste and keeping more money in your wallet.
You’ll invest in reusable items that will save you money overtime.
For most people, purchasing reusable and sustainable alternatives to many products is a part of going zero waste. But the initial upfront investment of these items will end up saving you lots in the long run. For example, a one-time purchase of reusable cotton poufs will eliminate ever having to buy cotton balls ever again, or purchasing some cleaning cloths will eliminate the need to buy paper towels. Some coffee shops even give a discount if you bring in your own reusable cup. Less waste means more money in the bank.
Common resolution #3: Get organized
By the end of the year, it’s easy to let your life go a little haywire. Going zero waste will completely re-organize your life.
Why going zero waste will help you get organized:
You’ll be forced to assess your mess.
Step #1 of going zero waste is getting cozy with your trash. Not literally (please), but spending some time assessing what you throw out will help you identify the areas of your life where you’re creating the most trash. And along with trash – for many – comes mess. What items are you collecting that you’re just ending up throwing out? Digging through your trash will force you to assess your lifestyle, which is the first step to organizing.
You’ll eventually go through everything you own.
Going completely zero waste doesn’t happen overnight. It takes months, even years for some. But in the process you’ll go through every single item you use and own and figure out if it’s helping or hurting your zero waste lifestyle. Going through this practice will help you pair down your belongings and find a place for everything in your possession (we’re looking at you junk drawer).
You’ll learn to plan ahead.
Unfortunately, for most people, where they live isn’t always conducive to the zero waste lifestyle (yet), so you’ll have to get into the habit of planning ahead. Whether that means packing your lunch for work, building in more travel time if you choose to walk instead of drive, or making sure to pack reusable bags with you for the grocery – learning to anticipate your needs, and taking the time to do so will help you manage your time better and be more organized.
Common resolution #4: Learn a new skill or hobby
The end of the year is often a reflective time for many as we look back at what we accomplished the year before. It’s exciting to know that you’ve added a new skill, hobby or area of knowledge to your repertoire, which is why so many people make a resolution to learn something new and interesting in the coming year.
Why going zero waste will help you learn a new skill or hobby.
You’ll learn to make what you can’t or don’t want to purchase.
There are some packaged or non sustainable items that don’t have a lot of great zero waste alternatives, or the alternatives might be pricey. A great solution to this is learning to make the items you choose to not purchase. From making your own whipped body butter, to toothpaste, to all-purpose cleaner or even deodorant, creating your own products is healthier for your home, your body and the environment.
Common resolution #5: Practice self-love
No one would deny a little more love in their life, right? An easy place to start is self-love. And though you may think it’s a stretch, showing your love to mother nature will directly affect your love for yourself.
Why going zero waste will help you practice self-love.
You’ll become more thoughtful, and in turn take better care of yourself.
Living a zero or less waste lifestyle requires a high level of thoughtfulness. Factoring in your impact to the earth suddenly becomes a part of each purchase you consider, meal you consume or decision you make. No more impulse buys or acting without thinking.
When thoughtfulness becomes a part of one aspect of your lifestyle, it begins to bleed into other areas. You might find yourself being more perceptive to others’ needs around you, especially your own. If you’re committed to putting in the effort to take care of the earth, why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself? Just the way you’ll begin to think about how the food you buy affects the environment, you’ll consider how it makes you feel. Same with the beauty products you put on your body, or products you use to clean your home.
Taking care of mama earth, will in turn build practices and routines that also take better care of you. And that’s something we could all use a little more of in 2018.