January, ‘tis the season for gym subscriptions in overdrive, the sound of blenders blitzing kale smoothies and wallets tightly closed until the summer sales. At Gram, we’ve been welcoming new customers this first week of the year, all with the new year’s resolution to cut down their trash. We love! But, how can you make a resolution stick beyond January and really make it part of your everyday life? Here are our tips on how to make going zero waste a realistic and lasting habit.
Set a goal
One of the biggest new year’s resolution fails is being too broad in what you want to achieve – “I’m going to be healthier”, “I’m going to get fit”, “I’m going to go zero waste”. If you go too wide you’re unlikely to succeed. So, instead set a tangible goal like, “I’m going to buy all my dry foods package free” or “I’m going to shop package free on the first week of every month” or “I’m going to cut out plastic bags when I buy my fruit and vegetables”. The more specific the goal, the more likely you are to be able to do it and keep doing it.
One thing at a time
If you want to be more zero waste don’t try to do everything at once. Make a list of all the things you’d like to change to avoid waste and then tackle one item per month. Here’s our suggestion for 12 things you can change to create less trash. By the end of the year you’ll have made a huge difference:
January – Carry cloth bags for your shopping.
February – Take a reusable water bottle everywhere so you don’t have to buy bottled water.
March – Use a reusable coffee cup for your take outs.
April – Research where in your area you can buy food and household products in bulk/loose, and use your own cloth bags/containers to shop there.
May – Avoid plastic packed fruit & vegetables – go to markets with your own cloth bags and find places that stock plastic-free groceries.
June – Swap tea bags for loose tea – invest in a few tea strainers, and most tea shops will happily fill your own bag or container for you.
July – Throw a zero-waste party/picnic. Replace all disposable items with reusables and inspire your guests (real plates and cups instead of paper or plastic – see what you can find in second-hand shops, real cutlery, homemade food instead of packaged food, cloth napkins instead of paper, etc.)
August – rethink your beauty routine – what can you do without? What can you buy in bulk? What can you make yourself? The aim is to minimize the number of plastic bottles you use.
September – Make your own – See what food packaging you throw away and if you can swap something and make it yourself (bread, plant-based milk, pasta sauce, etc.)
October – Use bar soap or refillable liquid soap instead of buying a new bottle every time.
November – Start taking a reusable lunch box when you buy take-out lunch.
December – zero wastify your Christmas – potato print stars on old newspapers for wrapping paper, buy presents second hand or give experiences rather than stuff and do without disposables at festive dinners and parties.
Or, just one thing
If doing all the above looks too daunting, just pick one thing to change this year, something that you know you can achieve and that will make the biggest impact. If you’re a coffee-to-go lover choose to carry a reusable mug this year. Maybe you buy a lot of fresh fruit & vegetables – start carrying small cloth or mesh bags instead of using plastic bags.
Talk about it
The more you talk about your experiences of cutting down waste, the more it will become a reality. Discuss the changes you are making with friends, colleagues and family. Start a blog or Instagram account to document your process. This will not only help you, but also encourage others around you to follow your lead.
Good luck! Let’s make 2018 the year more people wake up to the problem of plastic pollution.