Happy New Year! The start of 2024 is exciting, not only because we are celebrating our 70th anniversary but because the new year gives us a moment to reflect on the year ahead.

The new year is a great time to set intentions for the year. Consider setting goals to adopt a zero waste lifestyle. By doing so, you will reduce the amount of litter sent to the landfill, become more sustainable, and minimize your carbon footprint. We’ve gathered a few ideas to help you get started.

Buy Local

Find your local farmer’s market and add it to your monthly routine. Shopping locally reduces fossil fuel-based transportation costs.

Conduct a Waste Audit 

Spend a week collecting your litter to understand what you’re throwing away. Then, select one disposable item you can replace with a reusable alternative. Some ideas: reusable produce bags, safety razors, handkerchiefs, chopsticks, stainless steel straws, beeswax wraps, and sandwich bags.

Be Mindful of Energy Use

Start by selecting one appliance to unplug when not in use. Toasters, cell phone chargers, and fans are great places to start. Or look into more sustainable options, like the SDG&E EcoChoice Program.

Reduce Food Waste

Learn how to properly store fresh produce to extend their life.

Thrift and Buy Goods Secondhand

Shop at a thrift store, and make it a goal to shop there 3 times throughout the year. Or try to score free finds from friends, neighbors, and family looking to downsize!

Learn a New Skill

Canning, gardening, and sewing are great skills for your zero waste journey. Or learn to do your own car maintenance or bicycle repair. YouTube is always a great resource for this.

Shave Two Minutes Off Your Shower Time

Most shower heads have a flow of 2 gallons per minute. This minor adjustment will save four gallons per shower. If we make a very modest assumption that you shower once a week, that equates to 208 gallons saved over the course of the year. If you shower daily, that’s 1,460 gallons saved. For a better idea of how much water you use, check out this water calculator.

Try One Recipe a Week Using Bulk Items

Soups, grains, granola bars, and baked goods are great dishes for bulk success!

Plant an Herb Garden

You’ll only need to pick the amount you need per recipe instead of letting half a bunch of mint wilt in the back of the fridge. If you’re short on space, try a vertical garden.


Read an article a week about zero waste and sustainability, listen to podcasts, watch videos, find books, and get inspired by others. Visit our events calendar at cleansd.org/events to register for a webinar or workshop!


Carpool to one event or outing per month.

Plant Native

Native plants require less water and maintenance. They also provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other native wildlife.

Go Vegetarian 3 Days a Week

Learn more about why with this YouTube video.

Start Composting

Check out our Classroom Composting lesson plan for basics about starting a vermicompost.

Reduce Paper Use

Assess any print publication subscriptions (or junk mail), and find one to eliminate. Once you’ve read past copies of the periodical, contact your local library, elementary school, or scouting group to see if they’re interested in using your old copies.

Attend a Community Cleanup

Not only will you be removing debris from our environment, but dedicating time to collect litter from the street will spur your motivation to reduce your reliance on single-use items. Scroll through our events page to stay up-to-date on our public cleanups!

Get Outside

Hike, stargaze, bike, swim, camp and explore. The more you connect with the natural world, the more dedicated you will be to preserving it for generations to come.

Get Familiar with our Free WasteFreeSD.org database and hotline! 

WasteFreeSD.org is a free online database that includes a wealth of information on thousands of recycling, donation, and repair centers throughout San Diego County. Next time you ask yourself, “Where can I properly dispose of this item?” make sure you visit WasteFreeSD.org or call our hotline to speak to a live operator. By using the database to locate centers for proper disposal and recycling of unwanted items, individuals like you can contribute to reducing the materials that reach our landfills.


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