One Simple New Year's Resolution 'Changed My Life'

Change starts small, Kristin Hostetter reminds us, as she offers tips for sustainable living
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2024 10:30 AM CST
Avoiding Plastic Bottles 'Changed My Life'
Empty water bottles are gathered in a plastic bag in a resident's front yard after they were collected for recycling in Montevideo, Uruguay, June 22, 2023.   (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico, File)

On Jan. 1, 2018, Kristin Hostetter made a New Year's resolution that not only stuck but "changed my life." She decided to swear off single-use plastic bottles, and, as she writes at Outside, "my lips have not touched one since." She simply added a reusable bottle to the gear she'd take from home each day. If she happened to forget it, it meant "going thirsty until I found a drinking fountain or a joint that would serve me a glass of water," but "I have yet to perish from dehydration." In fact, Hostetter has given up more than plastic bottles in the years since logging the resolution that "blossomed into a greater awareness in my day-to-day life." She gave up all single-use items, from coffee cups to napkins to shopping bags to plastic wrap.

"My eyes began to open about all the convenience items I've relied on that are junking up our planet," writes Hostetter, head of sustainability at Outside. "When we buy things like Ziploc bags and polyester T-shirts, we're encouraging manufacturers to make more of them, which requires oil companies to keep drilling for those damn fossil fuels." So Hostetter started buying "grocery items in glass rather than plastic, so that I could reuse the jars." Then "I started phasing out plastic containers all over my house—the shampoo bottles, the laundry soap, the dish soap, the milk jugs," she writes. "There's more, too, like growing my own food, reducing food waste and composting, shopping secondhand, and making presents rather than buying them."

It happened slowly over time, but it all started with that 2018 resolution, which she shares in the hope of encouraging others. As Washington Post columnist Michael J. Coren notes, humans evolved to see others' behavior as models for their own. In seeing Hostetter change her habits, friends and family followed suit by composting and shopping with reusable bags, she writes. A friend even "signed up for a milk delivery service with refillable glass bottles." For others interested in making small changes to help the planet, Hostetter recommends switching to dairy-free milk, using up the food in your fridge before buying more, avoiding "fast fashion" in favor of sustainable or secondhand clothing, and canceling unwanted catalogs. Read more of her tips here. (More opinion stories.)

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