Resolutions for a new and improved year

Whatever resolutions you made for 2020 were probably revised by the COVID-19 pandemic, which rewrote much of life over the past year. As you face 2021 with hope and caution, consider some of these resolutions that will reduce waste, save money, and help you cope with the year ahead.

Focus on family fun: Last year offered all of us a lot of time with our families. This year, plan ahead for family time by swapping board games, jigsaw puzzles, magazines, and books with friends and neighbors. That way everyone gets some fresh fun. You might also look for items to borrow from the local library or purchase used items at a secondhand store.

Extend the life of your electronics: We rely on electronic devices to keep us connected and help us work and learn from home. Take care of them to keep them working smoothly by properly charging the batteries, deleting unnecessary files and apps, uploading photos to the cloud or a hard drive, and using a screen protector and case. Frequently clearing the cache and removing temporary files can improve performance.

Invest in rechargeables: Many electronic devices have a built-in battery that you recharge again and again. Why not do the same with all of those household batteries powering remote controls, toys, and games? Invest in rechargeable batteries and a charging unit to replace single-use alkaline batteries. You’ll spend a little more upfront, but have less waste and fewer trips to the store or online shop for replacements. Remember that rechargeable batteries that are spent (can’t be recharged) must be recycled and not placed into the trash. You can recycle rechargeable batteries at home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. Check with your local solid waste authority about battery collection programs in your area.

Make meal prep more exciting: Are you tired of making and eating the same meals? Shop your own pantry, fridge, and freezer for items that have been forgotten and then search for new recipes to match what you have on hand. Simply search online for the ingredients plus “recipe,” and you may be pleasantly surprised with a new family favorite.

Cook with scraps: Using up all of the food you have stretches your grocery shopping dollars and reduces your food waste. Search online for “cooking with scraps” for creative recipes that use up all of the food you buy.

Shop smartly online: Online shopping now reaches into every corner of our lives. It’s very easy to make impulse purchases with just a couple of clicks. Instead, shop online as you would at a physical store by setting a shopping time and using a list. Whenever possible, choose the option to “ship items together” to reduce traffic, packaging waste, and vehicle emissions. Plus, you can often get cheaper shipping this way.

Remember to recycle: Your empty cardboard shipping and cereal boxes need to be broken down and recycled. Manufactures need more of this material to make new boxes, as well as tissue products like toilet paper. Don’t forget to recycle your plastic bottles and jugs, glass bottles and jars, and metal cans too.

Donate with care: Many of us cleared out clutter last year, often overwhelming charitable organizations with our gently used but unwanted treasures. As you prepare to get rid of old items, be sure to ask yourself whether anyone else might truly want and use them. Donate the good stuff –– items that are working and aren’t broken, damaged, or torn. Give away “treasures” and put the “trash” into the waste bin.

Shop secondhand: Don’t stop with donating! Shop at secondhand stores for items that you need. This supports the work of local charitable organizations and keeps items in use for as long as possible.

Photo credit: Fokusiert | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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