Being A Conscious Consumer By Being Mindful of Waste

In this day and age, when we are moving at a break neck speed, it is very easy to become caught up in all the white noise. I am not even going to list all of the things we encounter every day as grown-ups, spouses, parents, siblings, and children. Our lives are interwoven with complex anomalies waiting to be solved and just usually succeed in overwhelming the senses, and leaving us listless by sundown.

I think the major contributor to this is the fact that we are constantly connected via technology.

This fact alone leaves us vulnerable to the whims of others and what they need. According to a recent eMarketer report, adults spend 23 hours a week staying connected in the form of text, social media, or emails.

This in turn leads to a vicious cycle of commitments, appointments, after school awesomeness, and lots of cool stuff that make it convenient to run around like we don’t have a lick of sense. Whatever the reason is for chronic busyness, I know most days it causes me to be reduced to becoming a brain dead zombie by nightfall that secretly wishes for take out to magically appear on her counter.

I know I am not alone.

Seriously, all statistical evidence aside, how many times just in this week have you or someone else made a comment pertaining to the whip lash they are receiving from life in general? Fess up.

“Adulting,” these days means maintaining a busy state of existence in order to achieve progress.

Because of the ancient law of cause and effect, now that we are a fast paced society, we have also fallen into the habit of becoming a fast paced consumer.

Fast food, fast fashion, fast life.

All in the name of convenience to suit the need to keep up with whatever it is we are trying to keep up with. Everyone is guilty of subscribing to this at some point in their lives. Not because we woke up one morning and decided to be this way. No. Things just kind of progressed and here we are.

Creating more waste so we can have convenience to keep up with our busyness and progress.  

Case in point:

According to the Center of Sustainability and Commerce, The average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more than most produced back in 1960. We are producing more trash than our parents did. Companies are also observing that we are too busy even for small tasks these days.

Such as peeling oranges and slicing avocados.

So, they are helping us, and therefore there has been an uptick in packaging to assist us with being busy. This is producing more waste.

Consumers also pay more for convenience. You do know that 15% of a product’s price is due to packaging? Right?

In addition, according to the World Bank Group, global trash is on track to TRIPLE by the year 2100.

Besides what one would think of as the usual “trash,” it does not cross someone’s mind of all of the other things we throw away that end up in a landfill.

How about those old clothes you just cleaned out of your closet to make room for the ones you just purchased?

According to the EPA, 13.1 million tons of textiles are thrown away and The Council For Textile Recycling says that only about 15% of clothing is donated each year. The average American throws almost 65lbs of clothing away each year!

What about last year’s cell phone after you have upgraded for a more faster and efficient model?

According to the Clean Air Council, cell phone disposal is a major waste problem and that in 2007, only 10% of the 140.3 million cell phones decommissioned that year were recycled.

Seriously, I could go on and on about the waste we accumulate all in the name of consuming and do not get me started on the mental and physical stress we are experiencing because of the fast paced society we live in……

What I am getting at is this:

I am well aware they may be steps we all can take in order to slow our lives down. I also know for some, there are not a lot of options available to do just that. So in addition to trying to slow our lives down just for the sake of sanity, maybe it is time to be more mindful of how we are consuming our resources, and figure out ways to be better stewards to what we have at our disposal?

I know it’s easy to be overwhelmed where your day to day tasks get lost in translation.  But, I am a firm believer that perhaps if we take a second to really be aware of our surroundings, and really think about what we are doing, not only will we benefit from it, everything we come in contact with, will as well. Not to mention it will be easier on the pocketbook.

Here are a few small ways you can start being mindful of waste.

Be Mindful Of Your Purchases – Before you purchase it, ask yourself if you really need it. Or, do you just WANT it….

Buy in Bulk– Not only will you save money, you will save on packaging (trash) costs in general.

Stop Buying Water Bottles – Did you know that currently, 38 million plastic water bottles make it to the dump each year? Instead, try purchasing a bottle you can wash and reuse each day.

Recycling – No, I don’t mean having recycling bins that divide up plastic and glass (even though those are good and you need to do that.) What I am talking about is just recycling things in general. Those old whipped cream containers can make very whimsical cereal bowls. You know those gelato containers that have screw on tops? They make perfect food storage containers my friend. I also use those things to pour glaze in before letting my Jr. High kids paint their ceramics. I have it on good authority that used (washed) TV dinner trays make superb painting trays for young children and husbands alike.

Upcycling – MY FAVORITE!!!!!!! How many times do we make an object into something else and use it for NOT its intended purpose? The sky is the limit for this. Go for it. God speed. Go get on Pinterest. Type in Upcycled Projects. You are welcome.

Use Reusable Shopping Bags– You can search ways to make these things out of old T-Shirts by the way. These are my favorite types of reusable bags because they are soft and stretchy. Here is a great tutorial for one.

Shop Thrift Stores – Once again, easier on the pocketbook. If you manage to get good at the upcycle thing, you will end up with gorgeous, one of a kind pieces.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas as to how to cut down on waste.

Share how you are mindful in order not to produce waste below in the comments. I want pictures of upcycled projects if you have them!

Until next time,

Sarah Childers

Bare Philanthropy LLC

Follow me on Twitter @ethosdeal

PS- If you are looking for a more in depth information as to why you should be more mindful of the waste you produce, by all means, feel free to check out Morgan Spurlocks documentary series called: Inside Man. One of his episodes is titled: United States of Trash, and its available on Netflix. It is a pretty interesting little piece.

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