I'm already sick of the "New Year, New Me" memes and articles on my social media feeds. But do you know what makes me even sicker? Reading that references to climate change have just been eliminated from the EPA's website. Most New Year's resolutions such as losing weight, working out more, and making more money are dubious, at best.

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So, why not change your own resolution from "New Year, New Me" to "New Year, New Planet?"

Global warming is real, and it's rapidly destroying our ecosystem. Feeling helpless is one option. A better one, however, is to gain a modicum of awareness over the effect that your Waste output has on our environment. That's what the zero waste movement is all about. If you're ready to stop feeling guilty and start feeling proactive, keep reading for six easy steps on how you can start producing less waste in your everyday life.

Zero waste tips for 2018. - [image credit: Hans / pixabay]
Zero waste tips for 2018. - [image credit: Hans / pixabay]

Top 6 tips for a 'zero waste' 2018

1) Be aware - Treat your trash like you treat your money: keep detailed track of your input and output. Each time you throw something in the trash, make a mental note. What did you dispose most of? Why? This is your first step toward producing zero waste.

2) Find alternatives - Now that you know what you're wasting, it's time to make a list of reusable alternatives. Deviated septum? Instead of throwing out 25 tissues a day, use a handkerchief.

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If you eat at your work cafeteria on the daily, start bringing your own cutlery and refusing the plastic forks and straws. Other popular zero-waste options include: cloth rags instead of paper towels, reusable shopping (and produce) bags, and flushable kitty litter.

3) Start small - First, use what you already have. Buying all new "green" materials defeats the purpose. Focus on changing one behavior at a time. Once you've consistently carried your titanium water bottle for a month, for instance, then start bringing your thermos to Starbucks for refills.

Remember: This is not a sprint. It's a lifestyle.

4) Don't do it all at once - Repeat after me: Everything in moderation...including moderation. Menstrual cups aren't mandatory. But if you like them, that's great! Just like your budget, diet, and exercise routine, it's all about finding a balance that works for you.

5) Buy used - The item has already been made. If you don't take it, a landfill will. But embracing the hipster, hippy, weirdo inside you doesn't mean all of your clothes need to have mothballs!

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Popular fashion brands like Everlane are waking up to their customers' demands for environmental sustainability. Also, there are plenty of apps these days to help you find what you need, without purchasing brand new. Resources like BuyNothing, Craigslist and NextDoor are great places to start.

6) Remember your goal - Why are you doing this? Maybe "saving the planet" is too vague of a goal for you. Perhaps you want to fight the oil industry, save money, or protect animal habitats. Whatever it is, write it down. Make it your mantra. Repeat it to yourself. And stay motivated.

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A true 'zero waste' lifestyle is impossible

But that doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing. The more you commit, the more the planet will thank you. Start to serve as an inspiration for all those around you. Get started on your zero waste journey today!

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