Ready to make a difference this new year? Make an impact every day by incorporating some green habits into your daily life. 

Start by refusing single-use plastics. Unfortunately, single-use plastics are not recyclable, do not decompose, and, thus, wreak havoc on our environment. Instead of taking that plastic utensil for your take-out, use a fork you have at home or the office. Out and about often? Buy reusable travel cutlery. Another huge way you can reduce your plastic waste is to ditch disposables. Revert to products like cloth napkins, handkerchiefs, and reusable razors. More often than not, disposables were based on items that already exist. Reusable items will be worth the cost in the long run due to the quality and longevity of the product. 

Another common, and shocking, item Americans throw away is food. Food is the #1 material Americans throw away. However, there are simple ways to combat this issue: first off, buy only what you need. This rule of thumb will not only cut back on your food waste, but it will also save you money. Also, be a leftover lover! When you waste food, you are wasting resources. For example, when you throw away a 1⁄3 pound burger, that is equivalent to pouring 660 gallons of water down the drain. Some foods and diets are much more sustainable than others, like the plant-based diet. This year, try to focus your meals around plant-based foods; if you’re a meat-lover and can’t give it up, try out “Meatless Mondays,” a growing trend in which consumers can cut back on meat but still enjoy it. Also, be sure to support your neighborhood farmers and buy local and organic foods. 

Pass on “Fast fashion.” This is fashion known to be cheap, therefore poorly made. It is also known to have a high turnover rate, leaving new clothing on shelves for further consumption. Because of their cheap materials, fast fashion textiles do not last, and it forces consumers to throw them out and continue to support the industry. Fast fashion is addictive and often a necessity because it is so cheap; however, there are other ways to get the clothing and textiles you need while being sustainable and saving your money. First, be thrifty – buy from a local thrift shop. Second, give your ratty textiles a second life – if you have articles of clothing that are too ratty to donate, you can always cut up the materials and use them as cleaning rags. There are also clothing stores, such as H&M, that take textiles and well-used garments to create more clothing or rags. If your clothes only have a few wears and tears, you can always re-dye them or refurbish them. 

Remove the stress of waste from your life by following these tips. Take it slow and incorporate a new habit every week, or dive headfirst and become a zero-waste master. “It’s not about a handful of people doing it perfectly, but a million people doing it imperfectly.” Learn more by visiting www.ktmb.org.