Top Tips from Sustainability Experts for Going Green in the New Year

In collaboration with my lovely friends from savannahrefillery.com


Many people resolve to incorporate new eco-friendly habits into their lives at the start of the new year, but keeping those resolutions can sometimes be tough. We’ve compiled these helpful tips and inspiration from some of our favorite sustainable living experts to help you make your new habits stick.


 

Grandmother smiling in a bush of flowers
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1. “Embrace your inner grandmother: by relying on your garden for food, preserving home-grown produce and making sauces and condiments from scratch, you can avoid a lot of plastic and non-recyclable packaging. Although complete self-sustenance may not be realistic or possible depending on time, weather and cost constraints, even taking small steps like making almond milk from scratch can create a substantial positive impact in the long run (P.S. I recommend the Almond Cow for easy homemade nut milk)” ALEXA SMITH

 

2. Keep things fresh : “Switch to organic cotton muslin bags for produce, instead of using the plastic bags offered at most grocery stores. Muslin bags prevent the use of plastic and help to keep produce fresh in the refrigerator. The use of muslin bags is a great way to reduce plastic waste AND food waste!” – Rose Galer, Refill Exchange


3. “Focus on the kitchen by eliminating plastic bags and baggies. For the trash can, use a paper bag, and for fresh food and leftovers, invest in a dozen or so glass containers of all sizes to keep everything fresh and visible in your fridge.” – Tim Arnold, Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers


4. Take it one step at a time: “When stepping into your low waste journey, swap 1 item at a time that is easy but creates the movement toward taking more steps. When you’re done with the dish soap in the plastic bottle, refill that bottle to give it another life before recycling. Then when you’re done with your sponge, swap it out for a Swedish dishcloth. Every small step is a good one!” – Dawna, Refill Merc



Stubborn on vision flexible on details
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5. “Live Imperfectly Sustainable: there is no right way to live sustainably, just the right way to live your life. Start slow, decide what areas are important to you and find a way to integrate progress into your lives. You’re doing a great job already by thinking of ways to be better.” SAMANTHA ALDERMAN, GRANOLA CHILD

 

6. Avoid overwhelm: “Sustainable living can feel overwhelming I know! Rather than trying to do all the things, start small and pick a sustainable swap that sparks your interest. Turn off the lights, eat less meat, plant a garden this spring, bring a reusable mug. You don’t have to do it all, just do something!” JESSIE, TINY YELLOW BUNGALOW


 

7. “Think before you buy! Go through all of your products that you’re planning to swap in the new year. Finish up the last of your lotions, shampoos, cotton swabs, and razors and replace them with sustainable swaps when you need to! Use what you have before you buy new.” – Lindsay Zukerberg, Zuke’s Refillery


8. “Remember your reusables: Keeping a reusable bag and bottle with you can make a surprising impact as Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. That’s an average of 365 plastic bags per person per year. Small lifestyle changes can lead to large impacts when we all work together.” – Erica Kelly & Genina Ramirez, Zero Waste Savannah


9. “Get creative with what you already have before you go out and buy something new! There are so many fun, new low waste items that have become available to us, but many times we have solutions at home that work just as well. A great example of this is going out and buying a cotton tote bag because it looks and feels “eco-friendly.” In reality, a cotton tote bag needs to be used daily for 54 years (20,000 times) to offset its production footprint*. Instead of going out and buying a tote bag, you can reuse paper and plastic bags, create your own bag from an old t-shirt, or even bring your backpack to the store. I personally like to put all of my items directly into my cart and transfer them into a basket in my trunk so I don’t have to worry about making sure I bring enough bags to the store.” – Jenn Mikitka, Ground Zero Waste



 


10. Find ways to reuse and repurpose the plastic you do use. – Kelsey Knowles, The Conscious Consumer



11. “Packing your lunch to take to work using reusable containers instead of buying takeout helps you avoid disposable plastic and saves money!” – Heather O’Sullivan, Savannah Refillery





12. “Have a Bottle Bestie: An insulated travel mug or bottle you take everywhere. The car, work, beach, shopping, etc. Whether you are in the mood for a hot or cold drink, you are set!” – Jaime Durheim, The Eco Minimalist


13. Remember your reusable drink containers and look for refill stations where you live: “We love to keep our reusable bottles out next to the kitchen sink as a great reminder to bring it when we leave the house, convenience is everything! When out of home & refilling for free with the Refill.ie TAPMAP, share with your family & friends your enjoyment of refilling, such as I started ditching single-use plastic bottles because we love going to clean beaches, turns out we’re also saving a fortune too, you’ll love it when you start. Positive, simple experiences and energy is super contagious. #rethink #reuse #refresh Another tip is if you like where you are refilling for free, ask other businesses if they would like to be an integral part of the solution and be a refill destination. Let them know how much you and your community value and support the businesses that are leading the way with impactful simple solutions. They can contact us directly or visit our website to join at: https://refill.ie/tap-map/” – Jennifer Taylor, Refill Ireland


14. Find a community of like-minded people or join a challenge: “Join the Aim Plastic Free Challenge to kickstart your journey to going green. It’s 31-days of different eco challenges. You’ll build habits, learn new tricks and fast-track your progress toward creating a sustainable and plastic-free lifestyle.” – Mia Hadrill, Aim Plastic Free


 

Bamboo toothbrush and zero waste bathroom essentials
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15. Take it one sustainable room at a time: “One tip I would recommend for living more sustainably is tackling specific rooms or routines at a time (kitchen, cleaning supplies, food packaging, clothing, etc), for example I set out to make my bathroom as plastic-free as possible a few years ago by using refillable aluminum shampoo bottles, bar soap instead of bottled, cloth washcloths instead of plastic luffas, and a replaceable straight edge razor instead of a disposable plastic one – everyone can start somewhere to make a change!”

Taylor Maddalene, SUP-Free Scientist






16. Small wins add up to make a big impact: “It’s almost impossible to completely avoid plastic, not to mention achieving a zero-waste lifestyle. Instead of committing to being completely zero waste, why not take small sustainable steps instead? Start small with something you can achieve daily like swapping to a bamboo toothbrush or refillable biodegradable floss. It’s a simple thing that you need and use every single day- we hope but over the years and your lifetime, you will reduce SO much waste! You can feel empowered and motivated to do more for the planet with every daily brush!”

Amanda and Alberto, ME Mother Earth



*According to an article published by the New York Times.

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