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Reduce Clutter, Reduce Trashed Resolutions


Today’s post is by our great friend and sustainability rock star, Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle. Check it out and tell us what you think–we’ll pass your comments directly along to Tom and team!

December and January are always a time for New Year’s Resolutions that are more often than not only kept for about a month. It happens to the best of us. Nothing else really “changes” when the clock and calendar flip to 12:00am on January 1, so why would it be any easier to actually change our habits then? It’s not, really, but it is a good excuse, and a good time to all make changes at once – which is helpful because you can work together on new habits as a group.

TerraCycle is known largely in part for its Brigade programs – groups that collect our waste streams to help keep trash away from landfills. Recycling and upcycling like this – whether with TerraCycle, in a household with municipal recycling, or on your own – is an important component of sustainable living because  keeping trash off the ground (whether litter or landfill) helps sustain our Earth and therefore ourselves.

I don’t want to sit here and give you a stereotypical, expected mantra about creating new recycling and sustainable living habits for the new year. Instead, I think we should look at how recycling and reusing can encourage us to maintain and sustain other new habits.

Recycling and reusing focus on using what’s already in front of you and realizing the value in what is supposedly “valueless.” New Year’s resolutions tend to do the same thing, focusing on reinventing ourselves both literally and figuratively. We can reduce clutter by reusing things in our home or giving them away to others. By doing this, we become more organized and more focused – therefore enabling ourselves to better keep our resolutions.

It seems to me that one of the reasons it is so hard to keep reasons is because they end up becoming too much – we become overwhelmed with our own goals because we bite off more than we can chew, so to speak. By remembering to focus on what’s already in front of us, and using that, resolutions are easier to keep, and it’s easier to make a difference. When we look at recycling as the opportunity to make a difference with what’s already in front of us, instead of trying to resolve to cut out this and that and completely change our styles instead of tweaking them, the whole project is much more manageable.

When we’re revamping something – whether it be ourselves or the environment – it’s always going to be less intimidating and more feasible if we’re starting with something than if we’re starting from scratch. The “new year, new you” mantra isn’t exactly truthful. And while it’s important to think about personal resolutions and how they can be made manageable, well, it never hurt to think about environmental and recycling solutions, too. An endless cycle of usefulness in which everything becomes something else – not trash – can be useful for recycling and for other parts of our lives as well.

What do you think? What are your sustainability resolutions for 2012?

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