This article was originally published in Teton Valley News on January 3, 2013. It is reposted with permission.
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. New Year’s resolutions are a great way to form new habits, but not all of them make it to January 21st. The key to a successful resolution is not just the test of time, but also its attainability. Goals that are specific and measurable, such as “go to the gym every Tuesday”, tend to be more successful than general ones, like “get in shape”.
For example, I once made a very general resolution to be a better sister. Shortly after New Year’s, I began working on my resolution by watching my sister’s children on a family outing. While in my care, one of my nieces fell on her head and ended up in the emergency room. I instantly abandoned my resolution, in part because I hadn’t defined what being a better sister meant. The following year I made a simple, measurable resolution: floss daily. I did, and I still do today.
There are a number of resolutions you can make this year that are simple, measurable, and have lasting impacts. If you don’t already recycle, make that your resolution! After three weeks of remembering to separate your recyclables from your trash, it will become second nature. Other simple and measurable resolutions include remembering to bring cloth bags to the grocery store, using the bulk bins, turning off the lights when you leave a room, turning off your computer at night, and using both sides of office paper.
According to the US EPA, paper comprises over 28% of the waste stream, and much of it could be reduced at the source. Set up your printer to print double-sided automatically. Then, start keeping a handy file for “GOOS” paper (paper that is “Good On One Side”) at home and in the office. Use the GOOS paper for internal documents and drafts, or cut it into smaller pieces for use as scratch pads.
How about resolving to cut down on junk mail? Everyone hates it, but most of us don’t do anything about it. For $35, junk mail reduction service through 41pounds.org will stop 80-95% of unwanted catalogues and junk mail. You can also cut the same amount of junk mail yourself by taking a few simple steps.
First, go to catalogchoice.com to get your name removed from dozens of mailing lists. You can also go to optoutprescreen.com to stop receiving credit card solicitations, and dmachoice.com to get your name removed from catalog mailing lists. When you do receive an unwanted catalogue, call the number on the back and ask to be removed from the list. Finally, choose which phone books you want to receive at yellowpagesoptout.com. To further reduce unnecessary paper use, sign up for electronic statements and automatic bill pay with your banks, credit cards, insurance companies, and utilities. Many companies will offer you a discount for doing so. The time you save by simplifying payments is worth even more.
With a few simple steps, a resolution to reduce waste is easy to achieve. And unlike resolutions to “get in shape”, the results will last long after 2013!