Sustainable New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions may be cheesy sometimes, but making a few small changes can make a big difference over time – especially if we work together. This year, challenge yourself to build new habits to take care of our environment. And don’t get caught up in fancy new gadgets or expensive habits… Many sustainable resolutions are free (and might actually save you money)! Read below for practical + sustainable resolution ideas.

  1. Bring your own water bottle and/or mug!

We go through about 50 billion water bottles each year in the United States (!  Bringing your own water bottle and mug for refilling is one of the simplest ways to reduce your waste. It’s a good habit to take it everywhere you go to avoid purchasing bottled water or getting plastic water cups at a restaurant. Plus, filtered water stations are becoming more and more popular around the country. Many coffee shops will use your clean, reusable coffee cup for your order, too – and some offer a discount (see UTK’s Mug Project and Starbucks’ new cup program).

  1. Compost your food scraps!

Food waste is a huge environmental problem. When food goes uneaten, we not only waste food, but we also waste resources like land, water, animal feed, and energy, as well as contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Make a well thought-out grocery list to ensure you don’t let foods go bad. We love the idea of making use of food scraps, or “Scrappy Cooking” – check out this Youtube channel for ideas on cooking with food scraps. 

When food scraps and old food needs to be tossed, be sure to compost it instead of throwing it in the landfill. If you live in Knoxville, consider utilizing the City’s Compost Program. They have various food scrap drop-off locations around Knoxville – you’ll have to take their Compost Quiz to get the code for the bins!

  1. Buy bulk groceries!

Most store-bought groceries are in plastic or other single-use packaging. Fortunately, there are several stores around Knoxville with bulk foods like grains, legumes, and spices, so you can reduce your packaging waste. We carry bulk foods, spices, and teas here at KnoxFill – browse our options online! You can also find bulk foods at Three Rivers Market in North Knoxville and Whole Foods Market. Bring your own containers and have them weighed at the register before filling up. Then, you’ll weigh your full containers at checkout!

  1. Get outside – and leave no trace!

Getting outside might not seem like a directly sustainable habit, but you can make some great impacts by exploring nature! By exploring the outdoors, you can learn more about our environment, support outdoor recreation parks and facilities, pick up after other explorers, spread awareness about Leave No Trace, and enjoy this beautiful planet. Make sure to follow these 7 Leave No Trace Principles and teach others, too. Fees at our State Parks, National Parks, and other recreation and wildlife areas help support conservation efforts – and donations are especially welcome!

  1. Take shorter showers!

Many of us get carried away spending several extra minutes in the shower just because it’s cozy. We’re not trying to take away your self-care routine or spa days – but being mindful about your shower time is important to reduce water consumption. Each minute you spend in the shower uses roughly *2.5 gallons of water. If 100 people reduce one shower a week by just 3 minutes, then together they’d save about *39,000 gallons of water over a year! 

*Based on the EPA’s standard shower head flow rate.

  1. Volunteer for a litter pickup!

Litter pickups are a great way to get involved in your community with other like-minded people! If you live in Knoxville, consider joining Keep Knoxville Beautiful for their monthly community cleanups all around Knoxville, or let them help you organize your own cleanup. Their first Saturday Spruce Up of the year is Saturday, January 20 along Middlebrook Pike – sign up for the cleanup here

Ijams Nature Center has a huge River Rescue coming up in the spring – the date is TBD, but keep an eye on their website for more information. Great Smoky Mountains National Park also has seasonal cleanups, along with other state parks. Many nature centers, state parks, and national parks will gladly take help picking up litter anytime you visit – some may even provide tools for you! We also love to pick up trash anytime we see it in public or around our neighborhood.

  1. Buy local produce & groceries!

Shopping locally is beneficial for you, the local economy, and our environment. One of our favorite ways to shop local produce and groceries is the farmers market. Knoxville has several markets around town. Nourish Knoxville is a great resource for finding local food, with a map of farmers markets in East Tennessee. The biggest market in Knoxville is the Market Square Farmers Market which starts back Wednesday, May 1 and Saturday, May 4. 

For year-round, convenient local groceries, shop online at FarmGrub and Market Wagon

  1. Thrift before buying new!

Shopping secondhand is a great way to reduce your impact – we have so many items and clothes in circulation already! Make a new habit to shop at thrift and resale stores before buying new. There’s a good chance you’ll find what you need, and for a fraction of the price! 

We also have a great vintage resale scene here in Knoxville. Check out our Knoxville Vintage Spotlight on Facebook or Instagram for some great local vintage spots around town.

  1. Eat more plants!

Meat and animal products generally make the biggest impact on our environment due to resources used and greenhouse gases emitted. See how different foods stack up online at United Nations and Carbon Brief. Cutting out all meat and animal products may not be sustainable for your diet, but reducing resource-intensive foods whenever you can is extremely helpful. Fill your plate with more plants, try Meatless Mondays, and reduce your overall red meat consumption to start some new sustainable food habits.

  1. Refill & make zero waste swaps!

Of course, refilling is one of our favorite ways to reduce your footprint – that’s why we do our best to make it easy for you! You can order most of our refills online for pickup or delivery, or shop in person for our full selection of home and personal care essentials. See below for our top KnoxFiller favorite refills of the year – all of these are great options for beginners! We have hundreds more products like zero waste swaps, local goodies, and bulk foods!

KnoxFillers’ Most Beloved Refills of 2023:

  1. Laundry Powder
  2. Dishwasher Detergent
  3. Hand Soap
  4. Liquid Laundry Detergent
  5. Dish Soap

KnoxFillers’ Top Zero Waste Swaps of 2023:

  1. Natural Deodorant Cream
  2. All Y’all Soap Bars
  3. ETSW Shampoo Bars
  4. Moosegrave Unpaper Towels
  5. Swedish Dishcloths 

Other ideas…

There are so many ways you can be more sustainable this year – challenge yourself and others to form some new habits! Some other simple ideas we like are: Volunteer with a community garden; Recycle all you can; Grow your own vegetables & herbs; BYO reusable to-go containers everywhere; Support local makers first; Pick up at least 1 piece of litter each day. Share your ideas with us, too!!

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