Green Tip #21 ~ REDUCE: The most important R

This Green Tip might be the most important of all: the easiest to talk about and the hardest to implement. REDUCE.

 We often have more than we need in our daily lives: food, comfort, climate-controlled temperatures, resources such as water and fuel. But from a global perspective, our resources need to be cultivated and preserved in a more sustainable manner in order for us all to keep living well.
food not trash

More than that – I am happier with fewer things. It is easier to stay organized, manage a budget, and focus on what I really want in life: better relationships, more kindness, mindfulness, and awareness, and all the immaterial things that are so much more important to me than….STUFF.

I often think that if we had to live with our garbage (and someone always does), we would be a bit more careful about buying cheap goods that are easily disposable. If you had to live next to a pile of crappy broken umbrellas and dollar store plastics, or worse, toxic substances from electronics, you may not be so quick to buy them in the first place.
image credit: greenpeace.org

image credit: greenpeace.org

So how can you reduce? Here are a few ideas:
Buy only what you need. A “No-Spend” month challenge is a great way to put this in perspective.
Clean out your home each season: recycling, donating, or finding another way to reuse or dispose of your unneeded goods. I recently donated my couch, oversize television, and a few other goods because I never used them and they were crowding up my tiny apartment. I also try and donate clothes every season, and buy clothes that are sustainable, fair trade, and long lasting.
Buy less packaged food and make your own. It’s healthier, tastier, and contributes to less waste. It can also eliminate toxins in your home, such as using reusable glass tupperware rather than throw away convenience food packages.
Known-and-sustpected-routes-of-ewaste-dumping-map
I ALWAYS ask myself these questions before I buy something:
How long will I use this?
Does it have more than one use?
Where did it come from? Is it sustainable?
Were people mistreated in the making of this product?
How am I going to dispose of this when I am done?
How much energy will this cost to recycle?
Is this supporting a company whose values I believe in?
These are a lot of questions, and I don’t usually ask ALL of them at once. But I do ask myself at least some of them, and most of the time they result in me putting down that impulse buy. I’m much happier with less and it is easier to manage, in the long run. Also, I save money, so I can either invest in high quality, long lasting products, or put it away for some travel or a treat, like a monthly massage. That’s another good question to ask yourself too:
What would I rather have instead of this, if I didn’t spend the money now?