Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -it’s actually a pyramid, not a circle!
The slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is in that order for a reason; it makes more sense to envision it as a pyramid than the circular form it’s usually represented as.
Reduce is the foundation of that pyramid. Reevaluating and reducing consumer habits is the best thing we can do to decrease our planetary impact.
It’s also a softer on the checkbook.
Reducing can be an easy step, and many easy choices, that add up to a big change. Some of those steps will happen naturally, as a response to the tightening of belts that occurs in times of financial uncertainty.
Reduce Use of Gasoline:
When gas prices shot sky-high in the summer of ’08, my family reduced our number of shopping trips per week. We live rurally, so we planned better, and made each 30+ mile drive to and from the nearest place of commerce really count.
Yeah, it’s tiring to go to five stores in one day. But we saved a lot of money (and time), and reduced our use of gasoline by about 3/4.
Even though gas prices have dropped for the time-being, we’ve more-or-less stuck with the newly-learned habit of 1 – 2 shopping trips a week. And it feels great to know that we’re simultaneously saving money AND decreasing our use of petroleum products.
Buy in Bulk:
Buying in bulk reduces post-consumer waste, and often helps you save some pennies in the process. In some areas, there are buyers cooperatives that you can join, and go in on true bulk ordering. This saves money, travel or the delivery to individual stores for you and the delivery company, and packaging waste.
Consider the Concept of “Affluenza“:
Perhaps the most comprehensive way you and your family can foster the reduce piece of the puzzle is to reconsider the desire to keep up with the Joneses. Don’t get the next gadget that comes along, even though your kid might beg, kick, and scream for the newest of the new of the e-game-component du-jour.
Ideally, as you begin changing your habits and educating your kids about the reasons why, they’ll be less inclined to see disposable culture as they once did. Based on your modeling, and the new information they’ll receive through family conversation, they’re likely to be less prone to emotional response to acquisitive desires.
But in the case that attachment does arise, here are some things to remember, and to remind about; not only does the new thing create future trash, but the old one instantly becomes waste in the process.
And, your wallet gets that-much lighter every time you give in to the consuming-for-consuming’s-sake urge. It’s up to you how much of that part you want to share with your child. There’s a fine line between honesty and over-sharing. You can figure out where yours is.
Finally, remember this; just the process of asking the question, “Do we NEED this?” will in many cases lead to a substantial decrease in purchases.
One caution; too much of a limitation of recreational buying can cause a sense of poverty or undue pressure in itself. Allow yourself and your kids the occasional impulse of luxury buy. I myself go for magazines, or an inexpensive bit of make-up. (This is common. There’s actually a name for this recession related pattern; The Lipstick Index.)
I have a rule that works with my younger daughter, too. With any shopping trip that she needs to go on, she gets to choose an inexpensive treat at the end, like a special food treat or a little toy. There is one condition to this treat; that she not ask for anything during the shopping trip.
Yes, this could be seen as bribery. But it’s also a little tradition we’ve created together, and it makes both of us happy, makes her feel comfortable in her own ability to have a voice and a choice, and I don’t end up having to say “NO!” throughout the whole shopping trip. And that alone is worth it.
When the shopping trip consists of multiple stops, my daughter’s purchase is saved for the last.
About the author: Author Bio:
Lasára Allen is an author, educator, advocate, and the creator of Gratitude Games. Her writing covers a range of topics including gratitude, parenting, relationships, bipolar disorder, fitness, yoga, health & holistic well-being, compassion, and spiritual practice. As an educator and advocate, Lasára speaks about living, parenting & working with bipolar disorder, gratitude as a spiritual practice & an opportunity for community & global involvement, grateful parenting & raising grateful children.
Over the years, Lasára has helped clients and students find balance in their lives, and alignment with personal and family-held values. She has taught, spoken, and coached internationally. She began designing Gratigories and other Gratitude Games in 2008. Lasára is a mom to two daughters, and wife to the love of her life. Find out more more at http://www.LasaraAllen.com, and http://www.TheGratitudePlace.com.
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