We all need some stuff, well most of us anyway. Waste reduction isn’t just about reducing the number of things you consume (although that’s obviously important) but also about making better decisions about what you consume. Better choices can reduce landfill and allow you to surround yourself with things that are useful to you and bring you pleasure (if that’s important to you).
I’m a sensitive person and I find aesthetics (how things looks) very important. I find joy in beautiful things and being surrounded by drab, dingy, ugly things (even if super practical and fit-for purpose) can really depress my mood. This may seem superficial to some but I’m sure there are many people out there just like me. What I’m learning, is that it is important for me to dress well, create aesthetically beautiful spaces in my home, and ogle over house porn on pinterest. But the end result doesn’t have to be excessive consumerism. Part of the solution for me is making sure that I make good decisions about what I choose to wear and have in my home.
Mmmm pinterest house porn…………
I’ll confess that I have huge problems making decisions – particularly about the small things. Poor Mr Imperfect is constantly exasperated with my panic about choosing what I want for dinner. There is some great advice about decision-making out there on the interwebs such as here and here. What I’m interested in is how to make better decisions to limit your impact on the environment. So all (of my) neuroses aside, here is my mental checklist for making better decisions.
Firstly, can I buy it second-hand?
I am trying to buy more things second-hand using ebay, gumtree and other awesome local facebook sale/barter pages. But even if I can find what I want second hand I still ask myself the following questions:
Do I need it?
Or do I have a blue shirt that fills the same niche in my wardrobe? We’ve all bought nice things that we like but end up in the back of our wardrobes unworn because we have other things that perform the same job (or is that just me?).
Do I love it?
I mean really love it. My mum’s advice for working out whether you really love something is to walk out of the shop/store. If you’re still thinking about it several days later, you really love it. When I follow this advice (thanks Mum) I often end up with things that I use and use and use until they literally fall apart.
My most recent failure to follow the “do I love it” rule was a doona/duvet cover that I bought because we were upgrading to a warmer, bigger doona that we needed because it’s damn cold over winter in Hobart. Instead of taking my time to buy something I really loved I just bought something quickly. And it makes me miserable. I’m still using it because it’s in perfect condition and I feel too guilty to throw it away. But I’m secretly desperate to replace it (maybe I’ll try to barter it to send it to a good home).
Is it fit for purpose?
Or will it just do the job for now and I will desperately want to replace it in the near future? I have a few classic examples of poor decision-making here. Mr Greenie and I have a blender and a ninja blender thing. Neither actually do what we want, yet we still are currently feeling too guilty to buy a good quality food processor.
Will it last?
Or is it a piece of crap that will break quickly and end up in landfill? This is an important consideration because, for example, even though I’m trying to reduce my plastic consumption some excellent quality plastic items will last for decades. Just think of the Tupperware your mum (my mum!) bought when she first got married. Yes, they still offer a lifetime guarantee and no, I don’t work for them.
If I can’t answer yes to these last four questions then I’m probably making a poor decision and need to just walk away. Mind you, sometimes the heart takes over and if I really, really love something then I’m unable to properly consider the other questions.
The last thing to consider is what will happen to it after I’m finished with it? This question could also includes the sub-question “what’s it made of?” I’m really trying to think about this more while I’m in the consuming process. For example, I’m trying pretty hard to only buy clothing made from natural fibres because, at worst, they can be composted after I’m finished with them.
Well that’s my imperfect process. It is really helping me to make some better decisions and procure stuff that I really love and that really lasts. I fully appreciate that this process has become much easier now that I work full-time and have more disposable income. But I think that this advice would have been useful to me when I was a younger (and poorer) imperfect greenie so maybe it will be helpful for some of you.
Love Sarah xx