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Making it Stick Checklist: 7 Tips to a Lasting Resolution of Reuse

You’ve done the research. You know the hidden costs when you purchase new products (i.e., what it costs to produce, package, transport and eventually dispose of your purchases). So, you’ve resolved that 2021 is the year you start reusing items. Now the question is: how to start and keep it going?

This reuse resolution guide gives you 7 tips to get going and make steady progress all year long.

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Reuse Tip #1: Choosing a specific goal or area of focus

Woman smiling while typing on a laptop

Start by setting a goal or choosing an area of your life you want to focus on. For example, you could set goals like:

  • Reuse a certain number of items during a specific timeframe
  • Purchase only secondhand products during a certain timeframe
  • Donate a certain number of items for reuse during a set timeframe

Or, you could select one area of your life to focus on:

  • Choose a product category (e.g., clothing, furniture, books, sports equipment, tools, children’s items, gifts)
  • Choose a room in your home (e.g., kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom, bathroom)
  • Choose a hobby or activity (e.g., reading, music, sports, crafting)

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Reuse Tip #2: Put time into planning and setting yourself up for success

Person's hands holding a smartphone

Once you’ve decided on a goal or area of focus, it’s time to start planning. Look out over the next few weeks and consider when you’ll have the chance to try reuse rather than buying new. For example:

  • Make notes on your to-do list for when you could buy used rather than new
  • Schedule some openings on your calendar to achieve one of your reuse goals
  • Add monthly calendar reminders about your 2021 reuse resolution

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Reuse Tip #3: Start small

Jars and cans reused to hold plants and succulents

If you’re new to reusing items, you don’t have to figure it out all at once. Start small. Focus on the basics. For example, ask yourself:

  • How can I reuse more items today?
  • How can I reuse more items this week?
  • How can I reuse more items this weekend?

Or, check out online lists for creative reuses for everyday household items. Then, choose one or two to try:

  • Store dry goods in reusable glass jars
  • Cut up old towels to use as cleaning cloths
  • Reimagine something to give it a new use (e.g., a door becomes a desk)

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Reuse Tip #4: Give yourself grace

Man shopping at a thrift store

If you’re finding it a challenge to keep your reuse resolutions, remember that it takes time to build and maintain new habits. So, if you resolved to buy only secondhand items for your children but purchased something new when hurried, give yourself some grace. Just try to have a plan in place for next time:

  • Map out local secondhand shops that carry specific items
  • Buy several secondhand items to keep on hand
  • Swap used clothing with friends

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Reuse Tip #5: Get support/join like-minded groups

Two women in masks shopping for clothing

It’s always fun to share ideas and learn from other people — especially when you’re doing something new. For help keeping your reuse resolution, get support from like-minded people. Take a moment to think about who you already know that has excellent reuse habits:

  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Neighbors
  • Co-workers

Another option is to find like-minded people online who are reusing items and living a more sustainable lifestyle. Check out these options:

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Reuse Tip #6: Keep a journal and document your progress

Woman writing in a journal

If you’re someone who likes to journal, it could be a fun way to track your reuse resolution ideas, progress and cost savings.

Review your journal at the end of each month and spend some time reflecting and recommitting for the month ahead. Other ways to document your reuse resolution:

  • Track every item you’ve reused in a simple bullet journal (secondhand, of course)
  • Include some reusable items on scrapbook pages in your journal
  • Post pictures or stories on Instagram showing how you’re keeping your reuse resolution

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Reuse Tip #7: Learn and adapt

Collage of different types of paper

As with any resolution, you’re going to learn a lot and, on occasion, have to adapt your plan or goals based on what you’re learning. This is again a time to show yourself some grace, pull out your journal and capture what you’ve learned. Maybe you need to:

  • Adjust your goals
  • Modify your timeline
  • Choose a new category

The point is, just keep going. Each small reuse change you adapt is contributing more than you may realize.

Bonus Tip: Become a reuse advocate

If by now you’re feeling more accomplished about your reuse resolutions and more comfortable with your new reuse habits, it’s time to spread the word and further your impact.

What you will do

Encourage friends and family members to try reusing items.

Sign online petitions supporting the environment and eco-friendly habits like reuse.

Pledge and Join the Circle, our movement, community, and invitation to cut waste, save money, and do right by the planet. Members receive:

  • A discount from member resale retailers
  • Exclusive previews for sale events
  • Valuable waste reduction tips sent right to your inbox
  • Monthly notice of shopper events
  • Membership in a passionate and growing community of people like yourself

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