12 Zero Waste Goals for the New Year

12 zero waste goals for the new year

Just imagine how you would feel 12 months from now if you drastically reduced the waste your family made all year. Imagine what positive impact it would have on our planet and environment.  What if we ALL could make that type of positive impact by making zero waste goals in 2020 – even if you are a zero waste beginner?

I bet you’re a bit like me- a busy mother who’s always juggling to get everything done on the never-ending to-do list and trying to keep up with life’s daily demands.  If that’s the case, you probably feel that finding the extra time to achieve zero waste goals is just too overwhelming and out of reach.

I can totally relate. 

Yet, I know that it is possible for families to make these changes if they can prioritize going green and can make it an achievable goal if we put aside our need to have the most convenient options all of the time. 

In today’s day and age, we often get caught up in the desire to keep up with the Joneses and impress our neighbors and friends.  We all want to buy the newest tech gadgets and all the popular toys and clothes for our children. It’s what everyone is doing. 

Again, I can totally relate and am guilty of doing the same thing this past Christmas.  We bought our kids gifts that they definitely could have done without.  

So what if we all stopped focusing on being the best, and started focusing on what is most important.  Imagine if we could shift our priorities and lifestyle of our families.  

I believe that modern, busy families can reduce the amount of waste they create daily.

It may just take some time to gradually shift our mentality and daily routines, but little by little, if you change one thing each month this year you will make so much progress in 2020!

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JANUARY’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Purge & Donate

clutter wardrobe

The new year is a great time to purge and organize your home – or at least one room or area.  Most people like to start the year with a clear, decluttered mind, and for me, that includes having a decluttered living space. 

According to Teresa at Living Natural Today, “clutter shuts down the ability of your brain to process even simple information. Your ability to focus is severely restricted because it’s distracted by the clutter.” This finding is based on a study done by scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute in New Jersey, which is published in the January 2011 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

So to get started clearing the clutter and allowing yourself to focus on a great new year ahead, pick one room in your home and sort through the items in drawers, bins, and closets.  

What can you purge and donate to someone else?   Donating items to secondhand stores helps to keep our unwanted belongings out of the landfill – for now.  (More on that in February’s Zero Waste Goal).  

You can also sell your unwanted belongings on eBay, Craigslist, neighborhood Facebook groups, or have a garage sale.  Anything you do to prolong the life and use of our household items helps keep them out of the landfills and into the hands of those who need them.

Find more helpful decluttering tips, check out 10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home.

Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

FEBRUARY’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Buy Nothing New

thrift store for clothes

Working towards zero waste goals also has a lot to do with what we buy as consumers.  I’ve seen many people starting monthly challenges where they aim to buy nothing new.  

Not only do new items often come in plastic packaging which we want to avoid, but it also contributes to a bigger problem according to Adam Minter in his book, Secondhand

In most cases, the biggest environmental impact of buying new goods is during the manufacturing of these new products. So according to Minter in a recent article on npr.org, “If you want to reduce the environmental impact of your consumption, the best way to do that is to not manufacture more stuff. In that sense, the best thing you can do is not buy more stuff.”

So, for the month of February, challenge yourself to avoid new purchases at traditional stores like Target and if you’re really looking for challenge avoid buying anything AT ALL! 

If you find you really need to buy something, reduce waste and lessen your environmental impact by shopping secondhand at Goodwill or other thrift stores.  See what gems you can find, refurbish and upcycle. You’ll not only help the environment, but you’ll also save money this month! 

MARCH’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Skip the Bag

reusable grocery bags

Speaking of shopping, during the month of March start a new eco-friendly habit and skip the bag!

Anytime you do need to go shopping, take your own reusable bag with you.  This is an easy win and one that can actually save you money in several cities, such as Chicago.  Did you know that Chicago residents are charged 7 cents for every plastic bag they use when shopping? Imagine all the money you can save while grocery shopping alone – plus all the plastic bags that never end up getting recycled, find their way into the oceans, and harm wildlife. 

APRIL’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Plastic-free Beverages

reusable coffee mug

Another easy zero waste goal to achieve is swapping your single-use water bottles for a reusable alternative. Many people are making this change already because it is one that is becoming more popular and easier to achieve due to all the refillable water stations popping up in public buildings. 

Fill up your reusable glass or stainless steel (healthiest options!) water bottle in the morning and take it with you to work or when you are on the go.  Fill it up as needed and even take it in with you to fast-food restaurants or coffee shops to avoid buying a single-use plastic water bottle. 

Speaking of coffee, if you are anything like me, I love coffee and tea and find it a treat to get coffee at Starbucks sometimes.  Yet instead of using a to-go cup that usually can’t be recycled due to the inside being coated with plastic, bring your reusable stainless steel coffee mug.  Have them fill it with your favorite hot beverage and enjoy it waste free!

MAY’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Learn to Upcycle

upcycling jeans

Upcycling is a great zero-waste goal for May! Instead of tossing things like plastic pill bottles, greeting cards, and even old blue jeans, try to upcycle them into something new. 

While many people feel that recycling plastic containers is a good move, it actually takes energy and the new recycled product is often no longer recyclable.

Upcycling is a more sustainable choice and just takes a little creativity and time. It’s not a new concept but is becoming more popular as we all become more aware of our environmental footprint.

Here are a few of my favorite upcycling projects, but the sky is the limit here! Use your imagination and have fun.  Children find these projects and crafts especially fun and it’s a great way to teach them the important lesson of reducing our waste and going green!

UPCYCLE YOUR OLD, BROKEN CRAYONS IN 7 SIMPLE STEPS

10 WAYS TO REPURPOSE YOUR CHRISTMAS CARDS

UPCYCLE YOUR GREETING CARDS

UPCYCLE VINTAGE BOOKS INTO JOURNALS

Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

JUNE’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Compost

Compost bin

In the month of June, let’s try our hand at composting! Composting – or “Rot” –  one of the 5 Rs of Zero Waste by Zero Waste pioneer, Bea Johnson. She developed the formula: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot and recommends that you follow those 5 Rs in that order.  

To be honest, this is the one “R” that I haven’t tried yet and a zero-waste goal for me this year.  So I will be on this journey with you during the month of June and will start our first composting system at our home.  I plan to learn all about it and share the easiest methods to compost. 

To get us all started, I found this helpful guide to composting by the Wellness Mama.

JULY’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Natural & Zero Waste Cleaning 

wiping down stove top with microfiber

Just imagine if you could clean your home with just water?  Yes, really! 

I began my zero waste journey when I came across microfiber cloths through a company called Norwex.  Initially, I began cleaning this way because I wanted to eliminate toxins and harmful chemicals from our cleaning products and our home.  My daughters were extremely sensitive and allergic to many of the fragrances and chemicals in our cleaning products.  

So it became a mission to learn natural cleaning tips and how to protect the health of our family. When I learned that I could ditch ALL of my cleaning products and switch to just water and microfiber cloths, I was sold. 

Furthermore, this decision led to my awareness of the plastic pollution problem. Through Norwex, I learned many ways that we could make a positive difference by reducing our waste.  

Imagine if you no longer had to buy countless bottles of cleaning solutions, disposable disinfecting wipes, paper towels, disposable mop pads, and all the cleaning supplies that eventually end up in landfills. 

This July, I challenge you to make one switch in your cleaning routine to reduce your waste. Here are a few ideas to get you started.  Remember, start with one thing and swap out more over time. 

  1. Try out a Norwex EnviroCloth (a superior microfiber cloth) and learn to clean with just water!
  2. Replace your paper towels with microfiber cloths, old rags, or make your own DIY unpaper towels (or you can buy some towels like these if you can’t sew like me).
  3.  Make your own Lemon Vinegar Cleaner using natural ingredients and glass spray bottles, like the one featured in Natural Cleaning Tips.

AUGUST’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Zero Waste Beauty

zero waste beauty

It’s getting a lot easier to find non-toxic beauty products, but I have to admit that I haven’t conquered zero waste beauty yet – but I want to! 

I’m going to switch to a shampoo and conditioner bar this year and say goodbye to the plastic bottles! I just purchased this Ethique Hair Sampler that you can also find right on Amazon.   This 5-pack box is a great way to sample the four different shampoo options and the conditioning Wonderbar.  I love that this company is committed to sustainability and has plastic-free packaging with no chemical coatings that will degrade in a compost bin or landfill. 

There are other options for buying zero waste beauty products including makeup. I found a great guide on the Sustainable Jungle website that lists 14 zero waste makeup options.  As always, just pick one thing to get you started so you don’t get overwhelmed with doing it all at once.  

SEPTEMBER’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Plastic-free Dental Routine

zero waste goals with Bite Toothpaste
Photo Credit: Bite Toothpaste

Have you ever considered that your toothbrush, toothpaste tube, and dental floss are contributing to the plastic crisis? 

National Geographic has a great article on this topic called, How Your Toothbrush Became Part of the Plastic Crisis. It was an eye-opener for me since many people don’t talk about this issue with toothbrushes.

While brushing our teeth is an important part of being healthy, we can reconsider what we use to brush our teeth.  

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a 100% zero waste toothbrush option because the bristles are usually still made out of plastic. However, I have been challenging myself to improve my dental routine and work towards my zero waste goals and clean living.  

My first swap was the type of toothbrush I was using.  Instead of using a 100% plastic disposable toothbrush, I switched to the Norwex Adult Silvercare toothbrush. While it is still made out of plastic, the handle is reusable and I’ve saved throwing away at least 6-8 toothbrushes so far and still counting!  The unique brush head snaps in and out reducing the amount of waste each time. No, it’s not a perfect solution but it’s one that many people could switch to and drastically reduce the amount of plastic being tossed away each year! 

Another option is to switch to a bamboo toothbrush which can be composted if you remove the plastic bristles first. So in either option, the bristles or toothbrush head can’t be composted or recycled. However, bamboo is a good alternative since it grows exceptionally fast and is a sustainable material. 

Next, when you are ready to swap out your toothpaste, I highly recommend Bite toothpaste. It’s an all-natural, plastic-free toothpaste that replaces the tube we’ve all been throwing away our entire lives (since they can’t be recycled).  The chewable toothpaste bits come in a glass jar that can be reused and refilled forever! This was an easy switch for me. Check it out for yourself!  

Finally, we all have been taught that flossing our teeth is a healthy habit but one you really should reexamine.  Who would have thought that flossing our teeth could be toxic?

Unfortunately, many types of floss are not only bad for the environment but also harmful to your health since they contain perfluoroalkyl substances (also known as PFAS).  This is the same chemical that is used to make Teflon pans.  When I learned about the harmful and toxic effects of Teflon, I came across several articles about how these same chemicals are found in dental flosses, such as Glide.

So when you are ready to make the switch to a healthier and more sustainable dental floss, I recommend trying Dental Lace – 100% silk floss that comes in a refillable glass container.  It’s the best way I’ve found to eliminate plastic waste from traditional floss containers while also eliminating the harmful chemicals. 

OCTOBER’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Plastic-free Food Storage

stasher bag blueberry
Photo Credit: Stasher

Having a 100% plastic-free kitchen would be an enormous challenge, and I’m not suggesting that you overwhelm yourself with that task right away.  However, you can start with two easy swaps to reduce the amount of single-use plastic from your kitchen this month.  

Swap #1 – Ditch the plastic sandwich bags!

There are several reusable sandwich and snack containers available in stores today, which makes this an easy first swap. My favorite reusable bags are the Stasher silicone storage bags.

Swap #2 – Ditch the plastic wrap! 

There are many plastic-free alternatives to food storage, including Bee’s Wrap, glass storage containers, and silicone bakeware lids.

NOVEMBER’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Eco-Friendly Holiday

zero waste goals twentyfifty fork

Did you know that over 40 billion pieces of plastic cutlery are thrown into landfills and oceans each year?

Just imagine how many pieces of plastic cutlery we could avoid using if you host an eco-friendly holiday party this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve?

I bet you’ve made a lot of progress this year and have some ideas of your own on how to ditch the plastic and aim for this zero-waste goal!

Throwing a zero-waste party can be as easy as NOT buying disposable plates, utensils, and cups.  I know it can seem like more work to wash your plates and silverware, but it is an easy way to drastically reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste.  You likely have all that you need at home already! 

Plus, throwing a zero-waste party can set a great example for your family and friends, even if you don’t say a word about it! They may notice it all on their own and decide that they could achieve an eco-friendly party too. 

However, if you are hosting a party outside of your home, you could consider using compostable cutlery such as this one by Twenty Fifty. It’s biodegradable, compostable, and made of natural grains and water. As soon as I get my compost pile up and running, I plan to test these out. 

DECEMBER’S ZERO WASTE GOAL: Sustainable Gift Wrapping

Decorated christmas tree with zero waste gift wrapping

Do you ever run out of wrapping paper or supplies at Christmastime?  Wrapping your gifts in this sustainable way will not only save the environment, but also time and money.  

Just save all the brown kraft paper that comes packed with your shipments from companies and use that as your wrapping paper this Christmas. It’s plastic-free, biodegradable, is a way to reuse vs. recycling the paper, and it can be jazzed up in lots of ways to make it cute and personal. 

I actually save all sorts of supplies and paper to reuse in creative ways, such as paper bags, newspapers, and fabric.  Who would have guessed that this gift was wrapped using a toilet paper wrapper? Seriously! Just get creative and have fun with it.  

I hope that you have found some simple tips to achieve your zero waste goals for the new year! I would love to hear from you in the comments as you try these ideas out and how the year went for you. Share your wins with us and any new ideas you come up with. We can all benefit from the inspiration! 

Plus, grab the FREE printable checklist and post somewhere to be easily reminded of each monthly goal this year. Grab it in the box below!

Don’t’ forget to pin this post for later so you can refer back to it each month! 

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8 Comments

  1. Caitlin
    January 8 / 9:37 AM

    About a month ago, I learned about the movie on Amazon Prime called, True Cost, and watched it. It was eye-opening and heartbreaking to realize the effects of fast fashion. I highly recommend watching it and following IG accounts – Style This Life and Mommas Gonna Snap. Just two fashion bloggers who are moms my age (40+) that share about living sustainably with our clothes/fashion. They are inspiring and simple, no fuss.

    Thanks for sharing a sustainable list all in one place! Love you! 😘

    • Rebekah
      January 9 / 6:20 AM

      Thank you for sharing that documentary! I love watching these and learning more! I will be sure to check it out.

  2. January 20 / 1:58 PM

    We haven’t totally cut back on waste but we have cut way down. We’ve been using cloth napkins for about 9 years. I use little cloths instead of paper towels. I need to figure out a cotton ball alternative still but we do what we can everywhere else!

    • Rebekah
      January 20 / 4:01 PM

      That’s awesome, Christy! You’re doing so much already! I have seen reusable cotton rounds and need to make (or buy) some of those myself too.

  3. Caitlin
    February 1 / 8:01 AM

    For January, I purged some clothes that I never wear Anymore and let my friend choose any she would like and I plan to donate the best ones to a thrift store. Older, unwearable shirts I made into rags for garage.

    • Rebekah
      February 1 / 8:28 AM

      That’s great, Caitlin! Thanks for sharing your wins!

  4. Jenna
    May 3 / 10:21 AM

    This is a great idea and great suggestions. We started our low waste journey recently with cloth napkins and I’ve been using reusable shopping bags for some time now. My mom actually started using reusable shopping bags for gifts instead of gift bags. Granted they’re not the 100% cotton ones, but they will still last a long time. I decided to put together a zero waste starter kit as family Christmas gifts. When deciding what towels to get, I considered microfiber. My hesitation with the microfiber clothes is that I read somewhere that they are made out of plastic and could potentially leak micro plastics into our water. I know 100% cotton towels you can rip up and put in compost once they have reached the end of their line. So I went with those instead.

    • Rebekah
      May 3 / 4:28 PM

      Jenna – Thanks for reaching out and sharing! So glad your journey is going well! Let me know if I can help in any way. Many thanks, Rebekah

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