There is a lot to be said for convenience, but have things become so convenient in our fast paced world that we forget the price that we are paying? Our stores are filled with must-have items that are sold to us under the (genius) marketing banter that they will in fact make our lives easier. That these items will give us more of what we all are convinced we need more of. Time. But do they?
We’ve discussed the push for new parents to buy buy buy… but it’s not just in the world of nappies and cribs and baby clothes that we are pushed to consume. It’s not just our baby-bonus spending that is making our lives less sustainable. We use way too much in our homes each day, we all consume too much and we all waste too much. Even the most conscious of consumers could probably stand to save a little more and waste a little less. Having been born and raised in this world it is very hard for us to even be aware of what we are doing. I try really hard to be very conscious of where I spend money and how much we waste and still I get sucked into the consumer machine and I think that we “need” things for our home. Things that will make us look more successful or feel more comfortable or be able to live a more productive, faster, more fashionable life. But at what price? On the other side of this discussion is more overwhelming thoughts. Not only do I get overcome by the need to change my every day habits but I also get easily swamped by the information about the cost that my poor habits and decisions have on our planet and on other families all around the world.The cost that my decisions make and the footprint I am leaving on this world. I get overwhelmed and some days I think, gosh, it doesn’t seem to matter what I do… I’m never going to be able to do it “all.”
But that’s the point, isn’t it? You don’t have to do it all to care about the earth. You don’t have to sacrifice things you love to make good decisions that make a smaller impact on the planet. You don’t have to forgo pretty things and live on a homestead (whilst that’s my dream, I understand it’s not for everyone), you don’t have to wear handmade clothes out of old curtains or be done with technology. You don’t have to DO anything… but what you could do is be a little more conscious about the decisions that you DO make. Imagine if every person living in the first world made two choices every day that had the livelihood of someone less fortunate in mind… imagine how much better off the world would be then?
There are heaps of great ways you can create a more sustainable home whilst saving a few bucks and feeling better about the footprint you are leaving on your world… Some of these things may be great shifts in your every day routines, others are simple, easy changes that make a huge difference in the long run and over time create a more sustainable home.
Buy in bulk
Buying your grains, spices, and pantry products in bulk saves money and it also saves the earth from a lot of unnecessary packaging. I shop at a international wholefood mart where I can purchase all of my pantry needs in one place. I store everything in glass, avoiding plastic at all costs, and find that I save a lot of money on my food bills this way.
It’s actually quite amazing how many ways one thing in your house can be reused. Up-cycling has become quite fashionable but it’s actually a skill that has been around since the beginning of time. To be able to take something that you no longer want and turn it into something that you do is an awesome skill to have. There are endless tutorials online that will inspire you to get creative and stop the wastage. Just search “up-cycle diy” on Pinterest and I guarantee you there will be a great project ready for you to start this weekend.
Take a little time to actually appreciate what you have. Wear the clothes you have. Read the books on your shelf. Dig up old forgotten toys from the bottom of baskets and under beds. Take stock of how lucky you are and try for a month to buy nothing new.
Donating old clothes, books, toys and everything in between is a great way of sharing your wealth around. Don’t just toss unwanted household goods in the bin. Facebook, Freecycle and Gumtree (in Australia) are fabulous resources for passing on things you no longer want or need to other who may treasure them. Keep your stuff out of landfill.
Turn it off.
If you aren’t using it. Turn it off. It sounds so simple, right? We all know it. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off the TV when you’re not watching it. Turn it off.
Ditch the disposables.
Paper towels, paper coffee cups and plastic bottles are all totally unsustainable. Buy a good quality stainless steel water bottle for yourself and for your kids. Fill it up. Use a ceramic coffee cup and get it filled at your local cafe with your take away coffee when you are on the run. Buy some cloth napkins and towels for around the house and stop the wastage. Simple changes can make the biggest difference.
Clean without chemicals
Everyday cleaning products are expensive and laden with insane amounts of chemicals that aren’t only bad for our environment they aren’t very good for our families either… and they’re expensive!! Cleaning with steam, vinegar, lemon and bi-carb you can get your house clean and sanitary for very little cost to your family or to the environment. If making your own cleaning products isn’t your thing check out eco-friendly products hidden amongst the other crap in the cleaning aisle. In Australia we have a few locally produced products that are plant based and free from the worst of the chemicals (and less than $3 a bottle). Maybe it’s time to make the switch in your house too.
Buy Second hand.
I go on about this one a lot. Everything you need or want can be purchased second hand. Buying second hand has little to no negative effects on our planet and saves you money while you are at it. It’s not as instant as buying new. Sometimes you really have to hunt for what you want making you truly appreciate it. Everything can be purchased second hand from clothes to kitchenware to furniture. Buying an overpriced brand new “vintage-styled” mass produced piece from your local furniture factory is not the same as finding an actual vintage piece and giving it new life.
Less is more.
Always. In every aspect of life. You don’t have to have three of everything. Have things that are useful or beautiful. Everything else is just filler.
Buying local is one of the best ways you can support your local economy whilst also keeping your footprint on the world to a minimum. Whilst buying local depends a lot on where you live… it is always possible to eat in season, to support local farmers, to grow your own food, to support local retail outlets and to make more conscious decisions about who your money supports in the long run. Besides, shopping local is guaranteed to help strengthen your community not only financially but socially… and you might even make a few new friends while you’re at it.
Remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
What is the best (every-day) change you have made towards living a more sustainable life?