The Five Rs – Number two = Reduce

Perhaps a little extreme...

This is another big one – and one I personally don’t have as easy a time with. Sure, order I make a conscious effort not to buy a lot – and I don’t (not having a lot of money helps with that) – but I still manage to have an apartment full of… stuff! Books, mind papers, clothes, dishes, Uglydolls, piles of fabric, furniture… the list is endless. And while many of that stuff is necessary (dishes) and not so necessary, even though it makes me absurdly happy, (Uglydolls) it is still, in the end, just stuff.

And of course, I don’t want to get rid of stuff that might be useful someday and I don’t want to get rid of stuff just to have it rot in a landfill. I don’t have a problem giving things away either – Freecycle is my friend – and I would prefer things get used than gather dust. But it seems like everyone has enough stuff these days. I bet, other than essentials, that I could not shop for a year – or more – and still be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have. That was the premise behind the book: Not Buying It, and if you haven’t heard about the Little Brown Dress project you should really check it out. Still not bringing something into the home is much better than hoping your local recycling plant is really going to recycle it – and according to this scary article brought to my attention by Jen – only plastics 1 & 2 really get recycled so there goes that dream.

There are so many simple ways to reduce/buy less I wonder if I should even bother making a list – who isn’t talking about reducing these days?:

  • Go to the library instead of buying books new – or shop your local 2nd hand bookstore and then exchange it for new-to-you books when you are done. Both support local industry.
  • If you do need something – check out the second hand shops first, lots of people give away stuff that is barely used. I wanted a filing cabinet but knew that is an item people are usually getting rid of so I asked on Freecycle and soon enough got a perfectly good one for free – one that would have gone to a landfill.
  • Have clothing/cd/dvd/book swaps with friends, that way you can get rid of the items you’re bored with/have grown out of/embarrassed to own and get newish stuff without wondering if that is pee you smell in the change room at Value Village.
  • Don’t bring things into the home if you don’t know what is going to happen to them on the way out.
  • Buy in bulk – but don’t bulk buy. The less you buy, the less packaging it has, the less you toss out.
  • “Shopping green” is a trend right now – but it is still bringing stuff into the home. If you don’t need it, it doesn’t matter how “green” it is.

That’s just talking about stuff – not even consumption of electricity or use of fossil fuels, converting your lawn into a food source (what is the point of grass unless you are a cow?), using greywater to reduce your burden on municipal water supplies. See! The ways to reduce are endless.

Maybe this entry will motivate me to purge more of my stuff, anyone want some books?

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