So, 2020 was… eventful. Most of last year’s resolutions took a nosedive out the window around March, and it’s been a constant game of catch-up ever since. In order to make 2021 as successful as possible, I’m setting myself some achievable, realistic, measurable, and incremental goals.
I order a lot of things online, and I also ship a lot of sales via Etsy and Ebay. If I’m strategic with saving boxes and packing materials, I can easily pack and ship most of my outgoing orders with reused materials.
Things to be mindful of:
- I have limited space in my apartment, so I should break down boxes so they lay flat, and flatten out packing paper. Bubble wrap and air pockets are a little harder to store, so I’ll need to decide whether to keep those, where to keep them, and if I keep up to a certain amount before recycling the rest.
- It’s significantly more difficult (read: incomprehensibly frustrating and impractical) to re-use packing tape. I can probably find paper-based packing tape made from recycled paper, but that’s a cost-benefit analysis I’ll need to do. At this point, I’m more inclined to use up the conventional plastic-based packing tape I already have so that I know my boxes are properly sealed and secured.
- Shipping labels and packing slips can be printed on reused paper. I keep a stock of printed sheets that I’ve only printed one side of, and provided there’s no sensitive information, it’s very easy to just load my printer with those instead of fresh, new printer paper. If I ever run out of reusable sheets, my local office supply store carries reams of recycled printer paper ranging from 20% recycled to 100% recycled. I have the luxury of being able to choose the often more expensive 100% recycled paper, so that’s the route I’ll go if I don’t have any half-printed sheets available.
- I can’t do much to offset the waste generated by the physical transport of my packages. While Etsy does their best to offset their orders, I still remember the murkiness of Carbon Offsets when I was a kid so I’m a little skeptical of that system. Because this portion of the process is outside my direct control, I’m going to work hard to take the steps I can where I can.
I have a mechanical engineering and design background, so it’s very easy for me to just open my CAD software, design a new part for something, 3D print it, and install it. Not everyone has that luxury, and I’m brainstorming ways to make that more readily available to my friends that don’t have the skills, equipment, or time. A prime example is parts for my car; while the Miata is a very plentiful little car, some parts simply aren’t easy to find anymore, and these are prime candidates for a little DIY.
As far as clothing goes, I’m doing very well buying as much as I can secondhand. I don’t generally buy shoes secondhand as I’m very picky about materials, fit, quality, and durability, but clothing is much easier to do that with. I’ve gotten better at repairing and altering my own garments over the past year as well. For example, I have a few skirts with elasticized waists that I wanted to make a little less elastic for the sake of my spleen. So, rather than buy the next size up, I modified the waistbands to make them fit better.
Doing a waste audit really helped me get on top of what waste I produce, in which areas, and how to reduce it. I’ve also started ecobricking my unrecyclable plastics. But while I’ve taken a number of steps forward, I’ve also gotten a little lazier as well. I’d like to work on keeping that accountability mindset year-round, and further reduce what I put in my trash bin. The less I can send to the landfill, the better.
Recycling is currently in a minor state of crisis worldwide; there have been several jaw-dropping advances in the technology, but we still have a lot of catching up to do, and a lot of transparency that’s lacking. My part in the process is making sure everything I put in my recycling bin really is municipally recyclable, and finding other ways to recycle items that can be recycled that my municipality doesn’t accept. I’ve made progress here, with a “deal with it” bin where I put things I know can be recycled but haven’t researched how to do it yet. I’d like to keep working on my reference sheet and expand it for new materials and products as I learn more.