The amount of stuff that we bring into our lives has a significant influence on our overall environmental impact. There is a significant environmental cost in producing, packaging and transporting consumer goods. There is also a significant cost in the disposal of our goods.
If you’re not quite ready to change up your routine to reduce your impact, reducing your consumer purchases can be a great way to start reducing your impact, save money and simplify your life all at once.
A good place to start is to simply reduce the amount of new stuff that you’re buying. If you’re regularly buying new clothes, gadgets or other stuff that doesn’t truly add value to your life, try and figure out why you feel the need to buy the stuff. This is a good start because everyone will have different reasons for buying things and if you identify the things that influence yourself the most, you can work to reduce the influence it has over your buying decisions. This might mean unfollowing some people or businesses on instagram or it might mean just trying to question yourself when you feel the need to buy new things.
Past reducing the quantity of new stuff that you buy, there are a few great ways to continue to reduce your impact. The two main methods that we use are to buy high quality and durable good if we need to buy them new and try to find everything else second hand.
This is a rule that we both try to follow but it may need to work differently depending on your circumstances. The items that we generally buy new and high quality include things like underwear (for obvious reasons), pillows and other bed stuff, shoes, rain jackets and backpacks. These are things that we get a lot of value out of every day and we took great care in choosing them. As we’ve said before, we’re not experts and we’re not here to convert anyone. Some people may live a minimal lifetsyle and carefully choose and buy all of their stuff new. Some people might have a more eclectic fashion and decor sense and love finding all of their stuff second hand. Neither option is inherently better than the other, all that really matters is that we continue to take steps that suit our circumstances.
For us, this means continuing to try and find stuff second hand and if we feel that we need to buy stuff new, being honest with ourselves about whether that stuff will truly add value to our lives and whether or not it’s worth the environmental impact.
Although we can talk about the basics of reducing our consumption, we were originally inspired to reduce our consumption by The Minimalists at theminimalists.com . These guys convey an important message about simplifying our lives and living intentionally. They talk about the benefits of living with just enough stuff to suit our needs and reducing the impulse to buy more stuff.
Check out their podcasts as well as their essays at theminimalists.com and their videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/jmillburn