Less is less, more is more – but sometimes less is more. I was pondering this concept as I considered the sheer number of ads and posts touting “sustainability” and “zero waste” that I have been inundated with recently, in the last year or so. Although it is a good sign that more people are getting aware and wanting to live sustainably, I worry that we unintentionally swing the pendulum the opposite way. You don’t need to buy a hundred different products to live more sustainably.
I remember a colleague pointing out something similar to me during a project. The objective was to reduce the size of a program. He said to me: “be sure that in trying to take things out of this program, you don’t inadvertently put more things back in.” That made me think for a moment that he might be right, as odd as it sounded. The same thing can happen to our environmental awareness. When we overthink things, they seem more complicated than they are. I’m guilty of overthinking this for sure and I’m learning too. Make sure that in trying to go greener, you don’t end up filling your shelves and cabinets with things that are unnecessary. The idea of awareness is that we become more conscious of the things we need and use every day so that way we use less. Minimalism is absolutely tied to conservation. It may take some time, but you’ll find the balance.
Don’t listen to the ads that tell you that you need a pile of items to help you be eco-friendly and sustainable. If we all go that route, the problem will just be made worse.
Although there will be some replacements for plastic disposables you used before, what you need, you probably already have in your home, can get for free or at a low cost.
This is what my list looks like for the most part. There are things that I’ve substituted for eco-friendly versions (i.e., regular detergent) or ones that I have eliminated (i.e., dryer sheets). There might be other things you might use every day that I don’t have on my list and that’s okay. Find what works for you, but you don’t need to break your budget to reduce the amount of waste produced. Don’t believe the hype.
Here are my basics:
- Reusable grocery bags (You probably already have or can get for cheap)
- Glass containers for food storage (Inexpensive glass jars with lids will do)
- Water container (You probably already have or can get for cheap)
- Hot beverage container (Your probably already have or can use a glass jar with lid)
- Cloth napkins (You can find them at thrift stores)
- Bamboo toothbrush (This is the one item you might need to get from a specialty vendor or online)