With the average American owing over $15,000 in credit card debt, reducing consumption is more important than it’s ever been. (In fact, reducing your personal consumption is the number one thing you can do to reduce your environmental footprint – even more important than finding the right debt relief solution.)
Many people need more incentive than good vibes to reduce their consumption, though, and we have good news for them: by cutting down on how much you consume, you save money.
In fact, you save a lot of money. Here’s how cutting your consumption isn’t just good for the environment – it’s good for your wallet, too.
Why Recycling Alone Isn’t Enough
During the past two decades, recycling has grown in popularity. And for good reason: reprocessing existing materials is a good way to reduce the amount of new materials that need to be produced, ultimately decreasing the amount of waste we dump in landfills.
However, recycling is not nearly enough if we want to significantly reduce the environmental impact we make through our consumption. As World Issues 360 writes:
You see, recycling makes available a vast, new, additional source of material which can be added to that which is available from the harvesting of new raw materials. Take paper for example. Not only can we continue to harvest forests for new paper just as fast as we always did, now we can add all of the recycled paper to the system as well. That way the system can continue to expand even after we have reached the limits of new paper production, you see.
Yet there is, unfortunately, no reason why our recycling will actually save trees. No reason, that is, unless the more important priority-reduce-becomes part of the equation. If we leave this decision up to corporate planners, however, this will never happen. That’s because they define “efficiency” in terms of maximizing profits and consumption.
If we don’t combine recycling with reducing and reusing the products we consume, we’re still continuing our negative environmental impact.
This brings us to a hard truth: we have to consume less.
Tips to Reduce Consumption
While it’s hard to reduce how much you consume in this consumption-driven society, knowing how to actually minimize your consumption will make a big difference in your personal environmental impact. Here are a few tips that can help:
- Drink from reusable bottles. The average person uses $100 in bottled water per year, creating a lot of plastic waste. You can significantly reduce this number by drinking from reusable bottles. Not purchasing soda is much better for your health, and you’ll save a lot of money by drinking water instead, too.
- Always carry reusable bags. Not just for groceries, if you have a reusable bag with you wherever you go (such as in a purse or backpack), you’ll quickly discover just how many bags you save during an average day.
- Stop eating fast foods. Aside from the tremendous paper and plastic waste, fast food production is a major contributor to harmful emission gasses, deforestation, and other negative environmental effects. Plus, you’ll be much healthier and save a lot of money by not eating out every day.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people. It’s easy to say, “I don’t earn enough!” when you’re comparing yourself to your neighbors. However, increased earning power doesn’t bring increased wealth; it usually brings increased consumption. By being content at a lower earning bracket, you’ll naturally consume less, too.
- Make your purchases count. Though there are several inevitable purchases you’ll have to make, don’t just settle for what’s there when making one of these purchases. Instead, try to make everything you buy something that has high quality and will last much longer than the cheaper, disposable alternative.
- Stick to a budget. One of the factors that drives excess consumption are impulse buys, purchases you weren’t planning on but find yourself making anyway. Making a budget will seriously save you money while making it easy to say, “No, that purchase isn’t in the budget and I’m not going to make it.”
Decide to Start Today
The best thing about saving time and money by cutting consumption is that the payoff is immediate. You don’t have to wait for six months (or even you next energy bill) to see how taking the steps above will save you time and money. Decide today you’re going to live a more sustainable, less consumption-driven lifestyle and watch the savings increase.