Today is the day to discuss the inevitable: New Year's Resolutions. We've all had them. The majority of us have set fitness goals, professional goals, diet goals, etc. on this day. Many people set waist reduction goals, but today we're talking about WASTE reduction resolutions. If you're reading this blog, it is likely that you aim to be an environmentally conscious citizen. One of the best ways to realize your true potential as a conscious citizen is to set goals for environmentally friendly behaviors and follow them. So, we've compiled a list of a few goals you can and should set for yourself for 2016.
Super Easy Resolutions
- Bring and use reusable bags whenever you go grocery shopping. This is an easy one. If you don't have any reusable bags, buy some the next time you grocery shop. They have them at virtually every store these days. If you always forget to grab them when you're leaving your house, go put them in your car right now. If you always forget them when you're going from your car to the store, set a reminder on your phone to tell you to grab them from your car. Or better yet, put the bags right in the front seat so they are directly in your line of vision.
- Avoid individually packaged goods - go for larger containers of your favorite goods. For example, purchase a quart of yogurt rather than a number of individual packages of yogurt. Aim to buy a box of cereal rather than individual servings of cereal in small boxes. Larger amounts of food stored in one package amounts to less packaging waste than a number of servings that are individually packaged.
- Buy paper products made of post-consumer recycled content. The next time you need a new notebook, or a blue book for an exam, or even a box for moving, buy the recycled version. This is like voting with your dollar - by purchasing these products you are telling producers of recycled products that you support their business.
- Reduce the amount of times you eat out per week by 2-4 times. In particular, take out and fast food products involve lots of un-recyclable packaging materials. Eating at home rather than at one of these places will produce less waste.
- Recycle your plastic bags at the grocery store. We all have a giant stock of plastic grocery bags at home. Save a few to use as small trash can bags and doggie bags and take the rest to your local grocer to recycle them. Meijer typically has a small plastic bag recycling stand just inside the entrance.
- Cancel your subscriptions to magazines and catalogs you no longer read. According to Rethink Recycling, the average resident in America receives over 30 pounds of junk mail per year. While you can recycle that paper, it would be less wasteful if that magazine/catalog never got printed.
- Compost your food scraps at home. If you live in a UMich dorm, chances are your dining hall already composts your food waste before and after serving it to you. However, if you live off-campus, click here to learn about how you can compost through the City of Ann Arbor.
- Go paperless. Don't print anything - emails, readings for classes, reports for work. Get accustomed to reading from a computer, tablet, or phone. Recycling paper is great, but it also takes energy to produce and print paper - energy use that could be avoided.
- Stop consuming plastic Ziploc bags. Switch from use of plastic sandwich bags to reusable tupperware. Often we put our snacks and sandwiches in these plastic Ziploc bags, when tupperware are just as handy and better protect your food when it is bouncing around your backpack or purse.
"Top 10 Ways to Reduce Waste." Rethink Recycling. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.