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Five tips for starting an eco-friendly habit

Two friends cooking and putting veggie peels in food scraps container
Eco-friendly habits, like collecting food scraps, take patience, persistence and intention.

Starting an eco-friendly habit as we enter the new year? Just like establishing any new habit, training yourself to reduce food waste, collect food scraps or reuse items takes intention and patience. Here are five tips to help set yourself up for eco-friendly success.

1. Set an intention

If you want to establish an eco-friendly habit, you need to commit to it. Start by setting an intention. Reflecting on why you are working on a new behavior will help you stay motivated.

2. Identify barriers

Is anything preventing you from reaching your goal? Being prepared to identify and deal with any challenges you might face when starting your new habit sets you up for success.

3. Repeat (and repeat)

Forming a new habit is like learning to ride a bike. At first, you need to think about keeping balance, steering and pedaling at the same time. As you practice, it starts to come more naturally as your body and brain get used to it — and this takes repetition.

For example, bring food scraps to a drop-off site on the same day every week. Set a reminder in your phone, put a sticky note in the kitchen, or make it part of another habit or routine, like grocery shopping or going to the gym.

4. Replace a bad habit with an eco-friendly one

Instead of just trying to break a habit you’d like to drop, try replacing it with a new behavior. For example, one day a week, instead of looking at your phone in the morning, get up right away to check your pantry, fridge and freezer, noting what foods need to be eaten soon. Less screen time. Less food waste.

5. Give yourself time, space and grace

Building a habit takes time. Give yourself the space and grace to gradually improve. Simply note mistakes and recommit to your overall goal of building an eco-friendly habit.

Learn more about habits


This article is featured in Green Ramsey, an environmental health newsletter from Ramsey County. 
Learn more about and subscribe to Green Ramsey.

Posted on Saturday, January 1, 2022 - 8:00 a.m.