Our excessive consumer habits are headed for a change of pace, so you might as well get on board now. Increasing scarcity of oil and water are going to cause a price spike in both, which is going to seriously affect the production and distribution of goods. To put it simply, “stuff” is going to cost more. Not only that, but unnecessary production of “stuff” wastes resources and creates unnecessary waste, much of which is plastic and sometimes toxic. So, get off the disposable kick and get on the reusable, sustainable train. Our conspicuous consumption needs to change.
Let’s start with packaging. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. Choose items with minimal, recyclable packing. The plastic wrapped around every product is wasteful. When possible, buy in bulk to avoid packaging.
Next, don’t buy wrapping paper. Use newspapers or use gift bags that you received gifts in. I sometimes get big sheets of brown or white paper as filling in packages I receive in the mail. They are great for drawing or stamping on.
Use messed up print jobs as scrap paper. Cut the paper into strips and use them as grocery lists.
Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. You don’t have to wash them after every meal. Once a week should be fine (unless your family is a bunch of monkeys). Check out these lovely fabric napkin options on Etsy.
Avoid using paper towels when possible. Try these reusable wipes or these ingenious reusable “paper” towels instead.
Use empty food containers for craft projects. In particular the colors caps on bottles and Styrofoam pieces that often aren’t recyclable. Recycle all items when possible.
No water bottles! Period! Try a stainless water bottle from Kleen Kanteen instead. This one is my favorite. I love it because it only contains stainless steel, a small amount of silicon in the seal, and a touch of bamboo to make it look classy. It contains no BPA, no plastic and no paint. It’s super class, super sustainable and super safe.
Don’t use plastic containers in your kitchen. Choose glass or stainless instead. Heating plastic in the microwave can cause it to leach unhealthy chemicals into your food. Here are some nice glass food storage containers and stainless food storage containers. The glass ones are made in the USA (but not the covers). I have the glass ones, and I really like them. Just don’t microwave the covers.
Bring your coffee mug with you to the coffee shop. You’ll wow them with your sustainable savvy. This Kleen Kanteen thermos will literally keep your beverage warm all day. Alternately, I bought one of these Kathmandu vacuum thermoses in London, and it also keeps things hot for ridiculously long periods of time. Plus, the innovative design allows you to carry your beverage without fear of spilling and quickly remove the outer cover for your sipping pleasure. I love this coffee mug!!!
Going on a trip? Buy bulk nuts and snacks and put them in a way-cool stainless stacked container, known as a tiffin in India. You can buy a small tiffin here or a host of larger tiffins and other stainless steel kitchenware items here.
There are so many, many ways to avoid the continual influx of “stuff”. Even if it’s stuff you don’t keep, it’s still stuff that you have to dispose of. Reduce your contribution to the world’s supply of trash. Check out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s no joke, and we created it with our irresponsible consumption. It causes bits of plastic to wash up on a pristine, uninhabited island in the Pacific. These bits of our waste are eaten by hungry birds and lead directly to their demise. Our impact is far-reaching.
Please kick the habit.