Idea: Consume Less

Friday, June 05, 2009

This week we’ve finally started weighing the donations at the dump and run. We should have most everything weighed and donated (or kept for the free store) by the end of next week. How exciting!

But seriously, let’s talk about consumption. In my last post, I talked about free stuff, and how much get’s thrown out on a regular basis, that is COMPLETELY reusable.
Sometimes, it takes simple reuse. Have a glass jar from spaghetti sauce? Instead of throwing it out or recycling it, wash it and use it as a container or a drinking glass. Have a plastic yogurt container? Use it for dry bulk goods in your pantry, or for painting. Mesh onion bags are really great for washing dishes.

The most important step in all of this? Think about whether or not you really need any given item BEFORE you buy it. Those strawberries in the supermarket that come from California? Well, you can decide if you really want that extra plastic packaging and the pesticides, and all the costs (monetary, environmental, and social) associated with getting them to you. That new shirt? What about fixing your old shirt? Or buying used? Organize a clothing swap with friends.
A big part of it is questioning your purchasing behavior.

This is not an exercise in feeling bad about how much better off you may be compared to someone living in poverty in Canada or elsewhere. It’s about recognizing that sometimes wants are misguided and just need a bit of thought before the purchase. We are consumers, advertising gets to us, and we stop thinking about what we buy because we forget that it has an impact on our earth and all other beings on it.

Let’s review:
  • Question your needs and weigh them against your desires (you are allowed to want)
  • Buy local where possible
  • Buy used where possible
  • Consume products (food or otherwise) that have less packaging
  • Bring your OWN! Use reusable containers instead of plastic bags, disposable cups/dishware, etc
  • Organize a stuff swap with friends
  • Go to garage sales/swaps/free stores
  • Be creative! Reuse stuff you own for similar or other purposes

- Sarah Jayne -

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