Next-Level Green Resolutions for the New Year

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If you’re at all concerned about the environment, you’ve probably got the basics of reducing, reusing, and recycling down. You’re the one composting in your backyard, abstaining from printing when it’s not necessary, and taking your reusable bags to the grocery store.

Ready to reach the next step of eco-consciousness? 2016 may just be your greenest year yet if you commit to these:

Green resolutions

Close the loop. When you’re buying products, pay attention to how easy they’ll be to recycle after you’re ready to part ways. It’s not enough to just recycle, though — you have to go one step further and purchase products that have been made with post-consumer recycled material. This ensures that demand for these products will continue, which only incentivizes companies to use more recycled materials in their manufacturing process. The higher the PCR content, the better.

Brush up on how recycling works. Are you fuzzy on the details of just how that tire you took off your car yesterday becomes a road tomorrow? The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has a cool video series on different commodities — from paper and plastics to ferrous metal and electronics — that explains in quick snippets more about how the recycling industry operates. Knowledge is power, so do a little learning!

Take the time to separate fact from fiction. With so many news sources these days, from national newspapers to your friends on Facebook, there’s a constant stream of information coming at us at all times. Surprise, surprise — not everything is true. In 2015, stories about how recycling is dead or how artificial turf is dangerous got a lot of press but weren’t necessarily backed by facts. When you hear something salacious, take the time to do some research before coming to your own conclusion.

Treat your own water when you travel abroad. You’re probably good about not buying tons of wasteful plastic bottles, but what do you do when you’re traveling in a country known to have water purity issues? Skip the bottled water and bring something along to clean your drinking water — a SteriPEN, which uses UV to purify, is one option. Think a few bottles here and there don’t matter? Consider that 86 percent of single-use plastic water bottles become landfill or litter in the U.S., and in many countries, that number is higher, according to the group Travelers Against Plastic. Don’t pile onto the problem.

Recycle something you’ve never recycled before. You’ve got junk mail, soup cans, and plastic jugs down, but what else could you be recycling? Maybe it’s something from the bathroom, a room that’s often overlooked by recyclers, or even something that’s bigger than the bin. Use Earth911’s Recycling Directory to search by material and find locations near you that accept all kinds of things you may have never considered.

Now that you’ve got a few ideas, what do you resolve to do this year for the environment? Do you plan on acting on other green resolutions not listed here? Share your comments with us below!

Editor’s Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries is one of these partners.

Feature image courtesy of Mikael Tigerström (Flickr)

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Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of national and regional publications, covering everything from sustainability and health to travel and retail.

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