One often overlooked way to live in a more eco friendly fashion is to reduce the amount of goods that you use. This isn’t always as simple as it seems, and consumerism can be a hard habit to break. We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us to ‘buy this new product’ or ‘pay more for this eco friendly thing’ Etc. but I wanted to remind you that one of the most efficient ways to be ‘green’ is not to exclusively focus on ‘recycle’ but to not buy it or use it in the first place.
“Reduce” has the largest impact of the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle). In my life this means that I have tried to limit our consumer spending.
At the time of year when I work on our personal accounting, I enter several months of credit card statements into the computer at once, and categorize every purchase. Now I don’t have every single item categorized, but I categorize the stores…Whole Foods = groceries, Walgreens = sundries and small household items, Mobil = gas, Etc.
A few years ago I noticed there were some stores coming up more often than I would have guessed…mostly home stores and craft stores. These are places I primarily buy things for decorating, or for fun. I decided that I could save money, and help reduce the unnecessary things that I buy by just not going to those stores any more, at all. Why do I need to go to “insert home store here”? What do they have there that I just can’t live without? (OK, so I needed, yes actually needed and not just wanted, a new knife and new frying pan, and I did go to that store to get it, but I didn’t buy any other things.)
Another trick I started using when I was at a store like Target where I buy a combination of things I want (impulse purchases, pretty things, things that just satisfy some consumer emotion) and things I need is to walk away from my cart (actually I always walk away from my cart and tend to lose it, it is a bad habit of mine, I don’t like pushing carts around…but I digress). So when I find myself away from my cart, I’ll ask myself…what is in my cart right now? I figure, if I can’t remember what I put in my cart only a few minutes after I put it in there, than I probably don’t need it.
Oh, and I always shop from a list now….this saves money, it saves time, and it keeps the landfill clear of the eventual consumer trash I would have bought. Win win.