Every day, we watch TV, listen to the radio, or go online and hear about all the amazing products that we must have right now. It can be a bit overwhelming, but many of us fall into the trap when we see an item so shiny and new that we must take out our wallets and make the purchase. In addition to costing us more money, this addiction to physical goods also makes a negative impact on our planet.
As experts on the news continue to inform the masses about the dangers of climate change, many people are asking what they can do to reduce the problem. The answer is to limit our consumption. By changing the way we think about what we buy and how we use energy, we can start making a change today that could return our environment to its original splendor. Here are some tips to get started and build towards the solution.
While we are thrilled to buy new things and get exciting packages in the mail, the factories needed to manufacture these goods and the trucks needed to transport your purchase all produce mass amounts of pollution. On top of that, the excessive packaging used to store the items is often disposed of incorrectly which loads up our landfills. For some, the image of endless piles of trash in landfills across the country is enough to want to make a change, but it doesn’t end there.
When landfill waste sits in place without action, the fluids within the trash can leak into our soil and into the waterways that we rely on for the water that keeps us alive. That is not to mention the plants and animals that depend on those sources for sustenance. Also, when organic material is not taken care of properly, say by composting it, and it is thrown away, those materials are covered by dirt, which reduces the oxygen and instead emits methane, a dangerous gas that leads to toxic greenhouse gasses and thus, contributes to climate change.
So if buying in excess is so dangerous, why do we continue to purchase things we don’t need? The typical reason is that advertisers are relentless. We are a media-obsessed culture, and between social media and television, we are hit with over 5,000 advertisements every day. Even if we don’t need something, that constant flow of advertising could convince us that we do.
Since advertising is so ingrained in our culture, one of the only ways you can resist the overwhelming temptation is to change how you think about your life and what you buy. The first step is knowing what the advertisers are trying to do. Next, you need to think about how much you value what you do possess and realize that you don’t need everything else. Another way to avoid insistent advertising is to shut off all screens for a while and do something else, like read a book or walk outside. Go camping or take a hike and get away from it all. Not only will you come back refreshed, but being outside and enjoying the wildlife could also have a positive impact on your mental health as well. It’s a win-win.
Understanding the tricks of advertisers so you don’t buy what you don’t need is one thing, but you should also be smart about reducing your consumption when it comes to the essentials. Remember that buying new clothes and tools gives incentive to the large corporations to produce new stock and that manufacturing leads to pollution. So, instead of buying new items, consider going to your local thrift store to buy the things you need. All of the products there are quality checked and tested for safety and are generally more affordable. If we all stopped buying new things, manufacturers would have no choice but to limit production.
There are also many products that you can make from the comfort of your own home. With a few ingredients, a bit of fabric, and some time, you can make everything from T-shirts and jewelry to natural cosmetics and even homemade dog treats. Being more self-sustainable by making what you need at home will save you money and radically reduce your consumption.
These solutions cover physical items, but what about food? While there are limits, you can grow much of the healthy food that you need by planting your own garden. Just about any vegetable, from carrots to lettuce can be grown in a garden in addition to many items you may not have thought of, such as basil, mustard, and Swiss chard. For everything else, you may need to go to the store, but if you do, make sure to buy from local farmers or stores so you are getting it right from the source instead of requiring those gas-guzzling trucks from across the country.
Speaking of transportation, if you can walk or ride your bike to the store, work, or school, consider doing so to save fuel and avoid unnecessary pollution.
Part of reducing your consumption is limiting your energy usage whenever possible. Most standard electricity is created using fossil fuels, and when burned, these materials release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which are detrimental to our atmosphere and environment. By having your family think about reducing their consumption, you can reduce your carbon footprint, and by making a good example, you may convince your neighbors to do the same and you never know where it can go from there.
There are many ways that you can reduce your electric bill and save resources, including turning off the lights and electronics when you leave the room and unplugging what you rarely use. To make a big difference, consider looking towards renewable energy in the form of solar panels. By adding these panels to your roof, you can power your home naturally via the sun, and while you may still need to pay a minimal bill to the electric company to stay on the grid, you will see a noticeable decrease in costs and energy usage.
It is also important to conserve water whenever you can, so there is enough to go around. Think about how you use your appliances, and if possible, modify your schedule so you waste as little water as possible. So, instead of completing a load of laundry every day, wait until you have a full load. The same goes for the dishwasher. If you can limit both tasks to once or twice per week, you will see an immediate decrease in your water bill.
As you can see, there are many actionable ways that you can reduce your consumption and live a cleaner life. Try these tactics today and go to sleep every night knowing that you are making a positive change.
About the Author
Amanda Winstead is a writer focusing on many topics including technology and digital marketing. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.