The best things in life aren't things. Clutter fills more than our shelves and closets - it permeates our lives. We work hard to be able to afford things, many of which require care, cleaning, storing, insuring, protecting....and the media and the merchants are constantly offering us the next "must have".
The cost of consumer goods goes beyond the price tag. Environmental costs come from resource extraction, manufacture, shipping and waste management. Consumer demand drives industrial pollution - here are a few tips to simplify and help "de-consume":
enjoy nonmaterial pleasures. Nonmaterial pursuits offer lasting and immeasurable benefits - music, sports, hobbies, crafts and games contribute to personal development with little cost to you or the environment.
give sustainably. Birthday and holiday gifts don't have to be the latest consumer goods.
share, swap, trade. Start a tool share with neighbors for tools which may not be used too often - lawn mower, power saw, compressor, ladder, paint sprayer etc. Fewer things to buy, and store, for everyone.
reduce visual clutter. Try putting things you can live without in boxes and put the boxes in the attic or basement for six months. Then re-open the boxes and keep what you missed.....give the rest away as gifts, or hold a garage sale.
Per capita waste production in the U.S. just keeps growing. There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, school, workplace, church, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace....the list is endless! The more we visibly engage in re-use over wasting, the more we cultivate a new cultural norm, or actually, reclaim an old one!
Home recycling helps saving energy, landfill space and natural resources and requires a trivial amount of time, yet offers substantial benefit to the homeowner.
Close the loop: buy recycled!
In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers and local watersheds. Here are some simple solutions to conserve water:
Check your toilets for leaks.
Install water-saving shower heads
take shorter showers
Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush
Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads
energy efficient heating
Nearly half of all the energy used in our homes is wasted.
Heating and cooling inefficiencies are the major cause, and the prevention is, in many cases, simple and inexpensive. The one home improvement which saves the most energy with the least investment is draftproofing.
The average home actually causes more air pollution than the average car.
This is because much of the energy we use in our homes comes from power plants, which burn fossil fuel to power our electric products. Burning fossil fuels causes air pollution and contributes to smog, acid rain and global warming.
Saving energy also saves money. By using energy-efficient appliances, households can save up to $400 per year on utility bills. By using our existing appliances more efficiently we can also extend the working life of the appliances.