Teens Turning Green Blog

“New Year, No Waste” PGC 365: Zero Waste

Why not start off the new year with a resolution that’s good for the environment, good for your wallet, and, most importantly, good for you?

The first theme for the launch of PGC 365 is Zero Waste, providing a great opportunity to tailor one’s New Year’s resolution to the Zero Waste lifestyle. This doesn’t just mean getting your recycling habits in order. The Zero Waste lifestyle focuses on reducing one’s waste—compost and recycling included—as much as possible by following the 5 R’s, an expanded version of the well-known “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” adage. The 5 R’s are “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot”, in that order! Notice that recycling and rotting (composting) are last.

“There’s so much that one can do before relegating an item to the trash can, recycle bin, or compost heap!”

zerowastecupboards pic

While the Zero Waste lifestyle may seem extreme, the whole point is to reduce the amount of stuff that each one of us discards. A New Year’s resolution based on the Zero Waste lifestyle doesn’t require a commitment to never throw anything out again; That’s darn near impossible in today’s society, and those who have tried, like Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home—my personal Zero Waste Hero—have dedicated a large portion of their time to getting as close to Zero Waste as possible. The important thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they push one to make a change in one’s life for the better, no matter how small that change may be. Here are some ideas for Zero Waste-themed New Year’s Resolutions:

Resolve to:

  • Use no single-use bags from the grocery store
  • Take a refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go
  • Switch to buying one pantry staple in bulk
  • Go to the Farmer’s Market every Sunday
  • Compost all food waste from your home
  • Refuse all foam food containers
  • Replace your household cleaning supplies with non-toxic Zero Waste alternatives
  • Buy only second-hand clothes + find ways to re-style older pieces
  • Eliminate one type of trash item from your trash each week

organic-waste pic

Contrary to popular practice, New Year’s resolutions don’t have to start on January 1st. Resolutions should be actions that has the power to transform one throughout the year! Zero Waste objective is a great year round goal for a number of reasons. The first reason: you will never be bored. There are SO many ways to minimize waste in your life. Make new habits in one part of your life ie. style with thrift shopping and restyling, then once you’ve a handle on that, try something different! Also, waste reduction can be easily monitored, meaning that one can easily see the results. Other than seeing the impact on your wallet, you can track your progress throughout the year. Mark on a reusable Starbucks to-go cup each time you use it. Each use takes 10¢ off your bill, so you’ll be seeing the amount of money and the number of cups you’ve saved! With a Zero Waste resolution, you’ll be carrying less trash out to the curb, paying a lower credit card bill each month, and finding more time to spend with friends and family.

“My Zero Waste ambition is  to decrease the size of my personal waste stream throughout the year.”

While this seems like a fairly ambiguous resolution, I have a specific plan and methodology. I will collect my personal waste each week—recycling and compost included—and weigh it using a kitchen scale, recording the weights in a spreadsheet. This will allow me to see not only how much waste I produce, but also which items take up the most space or weigh the most as well as track my week-to-week progress. My goals are as follows: reduce my waste by at least 50% by the middle of the year, then by another 50% by the end of the year. I want to end 2015 producing less than 25% of the waste I do at the start of 2015. I foresee that there might be some bumps in the road as I move in and out of dorms and study abroad, in addition the various other ways that life gets in the way of our goals however I am committed to returning to my habits when I get off track.


To  jumpstart your zero waste lifestyle, join us and sign up for PGC 365. For the month of January our theme is Zero Waste and we will offer up a challenge that you can do with friends, family, office mates. We will provide great resources to inform, inspire, and mobilize you to take action. Check out Pinterest to get started, read our Conventional to Conscious blog, be sure to follow TTG on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more, and check out the hashtag #PGC365. And we will reward you with an awesome prize package if you come up with a great zero waste project and take it to completion! Share your ideas with us on twitter!

Until then, Resolve to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot!

This post was written by guest blogger, Charles Cevallos

Charlie Head Shot

Cevallos is a sophomore at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, Project Green Challenge 2014, and  a member of the TTG Student Advisory Board Executive Committee.

Let’s ACT – because together, we can heal the planet starting right here, right now!

Change the World.     Please, and Thank you!          -Jenna xx

Compost Photo | Jar Photo | Featured photo 
This entry was published on January 5, 2015 at 10:30 pm. It’s filed under Live, Zero Waste and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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