4Rs Tips for 4.15.2022 – Reduce (the Elephant in the Room)
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We Need To Reduce Our Impact
It’s not only because we have more people on the planet, it’s how many of us cling to and demand our conveniences. Buying stuff and wanting to get things cheap and easy is a major factor in our climate crisis. There is no denying that.
I’ve heard people say our environmental problems are caused by big businesses that burn fossil fuels, chop down forests, and contaminate oceans. The reality is they do this to produce stuff for us, the consumers. They do it because we pay them to. This is the elephant in the room we don’t want to talk about or admit.
We want deals and we want to buy stuff like fuel, clothing, energy, food, and new tv. The companies we buy from are competing for our money because, well, that’s why they’re in business. They’re rarely required to do that in an earth-friendly way.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t buy stuff. I’m saying we need to be aware and responsible about how we buy stuff.
It starts with two key steps:
- Be aware of our actions – pay attention and track how we buy stuff; and
- Take small steps to change our buying habits and how we do things
Reducing waste isn’t only about paying attention to how much you generate in your home, it’s also about the waste caused by companies you buy from.
Reducing Waste In Our Buying Habits
More people today are taking a serious look at their stuff. How much we own and buy, and why we buy it. Did we really need it? Could there be a better way?
If you’re serious about changing how you do things you might want to check out The Minimalists. They have a great podcast on how to reduce anything, with a recent show on Sustainable Living and building a circular economy that you won’t want to miss.
Let’s start today by making small changes
Here are some tips that can help.
- Shop used – Some of my favorite purchases were from the Goodwill, Salvation Army, or my local thrift store (link to locate one in your area). I buy most of my clothes and books at these places. I often find good-quality clothing that still has a price tag on it. You give up the convenience of having less of a selection and having to shop around a bit, but that is nothing compared to the waste generated from making new, 64% of which ends up in landfills.
- Look for the best value – If it doesn’t last very long the cheaper price isn’t the best value. Electronics are a good example. Read reviews and buy a quality product that will last. I remember when my first flat screen died, the customer service person at the company said I was lucky I got five years out of it. Five years! I paid $850 for it. The old tub tv I had before it cost me $350 and lasted 20 years! It’s not our fault they make things so disposable, but we can choose to buy the stuff that will last longer.
- Cut back on fast food – It’s not only bad for your health and waistline, but it’s bad for the health of the planet. From the processing of the food to the disposable containers and utensils, the whole concept of fast food is wasteful and we shouldn’t eat it as much as we do. Try taking your lunch to work and preparing food ahead of time.
- Buy local and organic – I know I’ve said this before, but the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves and the planet is to buy organic produce from local growers. I see small farmers stepping up to go organic but they need our support. Organic means no chemicals damage the earth in the growing of your food. Local means transportation emissions are at a minimum.
Set aside time to prepare meals and shop responsibly. When you rush you’re more likely to make poor decisions, like grabbing fast food or impulse buying the latest smartphone or electronic toy that may not last very long.
- Avoid vampire power – How often do you leave a phone charger plugged into the wall or USB port? You would be surprised how much energy this can waste. Make it a habit to unplug the entire charge unit when grabbing your phone. It makes a difference and is a simple habit to build. Some electronics are made to sit idle in ready mode for you to turn them on. This causes them to waste energy. TVs, computers, stereos, printers, and video games are some common culprits. Unplugging them or turning them off at a powerstrip can save as much as 10% on your home energy bill. And don’t leave things on a charger when they’re fully charged. This wears out your battery and wastes energy.
Sustainable Shopping Resources
If you shop online and want to live planet-friendly, you probably feel the conflict I do when I place an order. Could I have found that for the same price at a store near me? Is the cost actually higher due to the emissions in added shipping? But wait. It had to ship from somewhere to the store you bought it from, right?
It feels like we can rationalize our online purchases, but the best way to feel good about them is to buy from a store that is going out of its way to reduce emissions, packaging waste, and damaging chemicals. You need a store where all the items they sell were made sustainably. Where the company and their suppliers are carbon neutral – meaning they take measures to offset and be transparent about how they reduce their carbon footprint. Here are a few online companies to check out.
Home and Personal Care Items
Look into Farm Fresh to You organic produce boxes. They may ship to your zip code.
Brightly – Is climate-neutral certified and offers a variety of products. From clothing and kitchen needs to personal care items and sustainably fun products for the whole family.
Green Eco Dream – Sell kitchen and personal care products. They have a subscription service to save you time when buying your favorite eco-friendly products.
Outdoor Gear, Clothing, and Apparel
Patagonia – Is mostly known for its sporting gear and apparel, and now offers Patagonia Provisions. Food for home or outdoor adventures like camping. They sell reusable beverage containers, as well as sustainable beer and wine. Patagonia is the force behind the 1% for the planet program where member companies donate one percent of their sales to healing the planet. One of the most sustainable brands out there, I recommend buying from them and learning how they do business so you know what to look for in a sustainable company.
Tools to help you reduce your impact
The Goodside app tracks your progress toward sustainability. It helps you estimate your carbon footprint and find ways to do better.
Don’t Forget Earth Day
Earth Day is next week. Here are some events you can participate in that will make a difference. On April 22nd or any day of the year.
Here are some more things you can do for Earth Day:
Check out Find Earth Day Events in Your Area from Mother Earth News. You might find something you enjoy doing and you’ll feel good about helping the planet.
Plant a tree and other community events – look online to find an Earth Day event in your community. I know in my city Tree Fresno has a tree planting scheduled where anyone can volunteer to go help plant trees. What a fun way to do your part.
Check out the One Earth Film Festival. Based in Chicago, IL, US, they also have online viewing available.
With Much Gratitude
That’s it for this week. If you like this post, please forward it to every earth-friendly human you know.
Drop me a line anytime if you have questions or comments. I love hearing from you.
I do not get paid to write this blog, none of the products I recommend sponsor me, so any support you can send my way would help, even a few bucks.
Thank you for reading these tips and subscribing. Pat yourself on the back for doing your part. Remember, every little bit helps.
You got this!