Americans have a lot of “stuff.” Studies have shown that Americans own more things now than ever, and that much of what we own is little more than “junk”—cheap, mass-produced stuff that fills up homes and landfills alike. We’re buying more of that sort of thing, and we’re not getting rid of it as fast as we’re acquiring it.
The American obsession with “stuff” is not good for people, nor is it good for the environment. A home crowded with possessions can be stressful in the best of cases and completely overwhelming in the worst. The “throwaway society” that produces such hoarding is bad for the environment, too, as cheap goods get trashed and replaced without a thought—and then headed off to landfills.
We don’t have to live this way. Here’s how to reduce your waste and clutter.
Living with less has been made quite a bit easier in recent years thanks to the advent of the computer age. Using modern technology, it’s possible to reduce waste and clutter while still enjoying the things we care about.
Few things illustrate this better than digital photography and online digital photo storage systems. With so many of us carrying around high-quality cameras in our pockets (thanks, smartphones!), we’re taking more photos than ever before. But those photos are not all being printed onto photo paper or collected in scrapbooks and photos albums. Those physical (and sometimes wasteful) solutions have been eclipsed by high-tech alternatives. A good digital photo storage device can now do everything that a photo album can and more, including connecting photo collections to secure online storage (in the cloud), which allows photographers to download, share, and move their files simply and securely.
Similarly, digital solutions can help you swap paper books for e-books, CDs for mp3s, and more.
Conscious Consumption and Buying for Life
Extreme minimalists live with next to nothing. Other than what they need in order to survive, these people get rid of everything and avoid acquiring new possessions. That’s impressive, but there’s absolutely no reason to assume that these sorts of extreme minimalists have a monopoly on living with less. Plenty of people have downsized and decluttered without becoming ascetics.
With that in mind, you can certainly continue to buy and use the products in this new and decluttered phase of your life. You should be conscious, though, of how you’re doing so. Buying cheap stuff that wears out or breaks is a poor choice for the environment. Even if you get the broken or worn-out stuff out of your home quickly, the clutter lives on in landfills.
Be more conscious of your consumption. Be more discerning about what goods you buy, as well as about which versions of them end up on your shopping list. Choosing to spend more on solutions that last longer—”buying for life,” as conscious consumers like to say—can be a great way to cut down on waste.
Reusing, Recycling, and Upcycling
Not everything that you buy and use will last you a lifetime, and that’s okay. But just because something has reached the end of its useful life doesn’t mean that it belongs in a landfill. You should always dispose of recyclable materials properly. Recycling is one of the most important things that we can do for our planet, explain experts in used cooking oil collection and recycling.
What’s more, you may find that you don’t have to dispose of certain things at all. Possessions that still have life in them could be re-used or donated to individuals or organizations who will get more out of it. You should also consider “upcycling” certain items. Worn-out goods can get a new lease on life by taking on a different purpose or becoming a part of home decoration.
Be a Little Better Every Day
Building a better lifestyle isn’t about changing your entire life overnight. On the contrary, the process of self-improvement should take a long time—and, ideally, should never stop. Don’t beat yourself up about not eliminating waste and clutter fast. Instead, focus on reachable goals and positivity. If you strive to be a little bit better every day, your little efforts will add up to big long-term changes. That’s good news for you, your lifestyle, and our planet!