New year, new habits

By Ashley Pace

We’ve made it through another trip around the sun, and now it’s time to think about what we can do in the next year to help live a more Zero Waste lifestyle. Here are some habits you can start today that can make a big impact in 2019.

Refuse what you won’t use

Simply put, if you are offered something, take a moment to think realistically about its value to you. Do you really need another koozie, pen, keychain or notebook from a random event or business? Do you even like the scent of that lotion sample? How many of those paper face masks do you really need? Choosing to refuse items that you won’t use can add up to a big heap of things that usually end up in the trash. And, for those unwanted items you already have in the house, check out the Austin Reuse Directory for local business that will put that unwanted stuff to good use.

Recycle the “hard to recycle” items

This year, commit to actually recycling the pile of used batteries, stash of plastic bags and mountain of styrofoam you’ve been collecting in your garage. These items can’t go into your blue recycling cart, but they can be recycled if you take them where they need to go. Used batteries can be taken to any Austin Public Library branch for collection, plastic bags are collected at most grocery stores, and styrofoam and just about all of the other hard to recycle items can be dropped off at our Recycle & Reuse Drop-Off Center. It might not be as convenient as the blue cart, but you can feel good about taking the extra time to ensure these items are recycled. To check if an item can go into your blue cart or if it needs special recycling use our What Do I Do With tool.

Make an “Eat this first” basket

Commit to eating the fresh produce, dairy and eggs that you already have before grabbing the snacks with a longer shelf life. Make an “eat this first” drawer or basket to make sure your healthy and fresh options are easy to see and grab without having to dig around. Not only will you reduce food waste, but maybe your waistline too. If you do have food in your house that is no longer fit for human consumption, consider taking advantage of the City’s rebate programs for starting a home composting system or chicken keeping.

Make 2019 the year to commit to Zero Waste in your life. Even if you start with just one extra step, it can go a long way. And don’t forget to share your Zero Waste success stories with your family, friends and social groups to help encourage them to make their own small steps too.