Although the complications associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may have held you back from achieving your resolutions for the past year, there’s no reason why you can’t set some new goals for 2021.
That’s especially true if your resolutions are home-related, since we’ll probably be sheltering in place for some time to come. While the home improvement industry grew by 5.5% in 2019, the need for Americans to stay home to stop the spread of the coronavirus has many of us fixating on how to make a number of property improvements.
But keep in mind that renovations aren’t the only way to get more out of what you have. If you’re determined to lead a greener lifestyle in the new year, you might want to start by reducing your household waste. With climate change continuing to worsen, it’s up to each individual to make positive changes to help the planet. Fortunately, these adjustments may have a relatively minor impact on your everyday life — but they can be significant for our environment. Here are just a few ways you can reduce your household waste and become more eco-friendly in 2021.
Install (or Overhaul) a Septic System
Homeowners need a reliable way to process their wastewater. Typically, you’ll have one of two options: connecting to a public sewer or utilizing a private septic system. More than 21 million U.S. households use septic systems, which are inherently more eco-friendly than sewer systems because they treat wastewater in a natural way. They also recycle water and can replenish water tables while benefitting local plant and wildlife. They’re typically pretty durable, as well, which means less material needs to be wasted on repairs or replacement.
However, proper installation and maintenance are key. Whether you’re making the switch to septic or you’re trying to make your current system more eco-friendly in the coming year, you should opt for trenchless repairs (which causes less harm to the environment) and follow all recommendations for proper use to avoid backups. You should also have routine maintenance performed and pump your tank regularly to ensure your septic system continues to run smoothly. While this won’t necessarily reduce how much wastewater needs to be cleaned, it can ensure that cleaning is more efficient and that you won’t have to waste resources in unnecessary ways.
Always Opt For Reusable Options
This might go without saying, but single-use items — like plastic bags, paper towels, cellophane, and plastic water bottles — represent a lot of waste. Eliminating or drastically reducing your use of these items in 2021 can help you keep a lot of garbage out of local landfills. There are plenty of reusable alternatives out there, like beeswax food wrap or reusable grocery bags and towels, that will give you more for your money and help you reduce the amount of garbage you produce. Don’t forget to snag some reusable insulated water bottles to start your new year out right!
Shop in Bulk When Possible
Packaging is a huge source of waste, but it feels inescapable when you shop online or at conventional grocery stores. Consider buying foods and personal care products in bulk whenever you can and supply your own containers or reusable bags. Buying in larger quantities can allow you to save money and stock up while creating a zero-waste experience. That said, don’t be tempted to buy things you don’t need (especially if they expire quickly!). Buy in bulk only when you know you’ll use the items and that they won’t be thrown away.
Start a Compost Pile or Bin
Food scraps and spoiled food represent a large percentage of household waste. But there’s a lot you could be put to better use in your garden. Make a resolution to start a compost bin or pile in the new year, as this will allow you to reuse unused produce, coffee, eggshells, and many other kinds of waste as fertilizer. Although most lawns require one inch of water each week, composting can really make your yard look its best. Plus, it’ll allow you to grow food right at home, which can often be less wasteful than buying items at the grocery store. Just make sure to research the items that can be safely composted before you begin.
While you might not be eager to set any goals for the new year, leading a less wasteful life can be its own reward — even in the midst of a pandemic. With these tips in mind, you can eliminate wasteful habits and reduce your environmental impact — all without disrupting your routine.