No one wants to live in a world, where garbage floats in the oceans and covers our beaches and forests. How can we help ? How to reduce the amount of waste we are producing ? It requires some re-thinking and of changing a few habits but It’s not as difficult as we might think. If we all take a bit of responsibility as individuals, even if just a little, it can make a huge difference.
Living in the spirit of Less Waste doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. It’s about cultivating the right mindset, rather than about making big efforts or bringing sacrifices.
I have become increasingly aware of my own impact. I have observed myself becoming more conscious and finding my own ways to make small but (I hope significant) changes. It’s a learning process, so don’t beat yourself up if you fail occasionally. As long as you are trying… The key to a personal improvement is the mindset. Starting with oneself and within our own means and possibilities.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect and I’m not here to educate anyone. However, I would love to share my own ideas and thoughts on this subject and maybe inspire you guys. Because it concerns all of us.
Becoming a conscious consumer
You might think ‘I’m not going to be able to save the planet anyway’ – no, you are right. But you could help. It’s not about loading the responsibility on our shoulders, nor to put ourselves under pressure, but rather about consciousness and awareness. It’s about adapting a responsible mindset and doing our best, in the way that makes sense for our lifestyle.
Yes I know, it’s very difficult or nearly impossible to live by the credo of Zero Waste. Although there are enthusiasts who are able to place their wastes of a whole year in only one jar. While this achievement is very inspiring, it seems so difficult and, I dare to say, kind of discouraging.
However, how about ‘LESS waste’ ? I guess you agree with me, that if we make a little effort, we would be able to generate less waste then we normally do, right ? Ok, so let’s get some ideas.
The 6xR of an eco-spirited-mindset
Because this is important, let’s determine some terminology. The pliers of the less waste philosophy are the 6xR’s: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Recycle, Recover & Reuse.
Rethink, Refuse, Reduce
Rethink – Think about what you need. Before buying something, ask yourself ‘do I really need this item ?’ The greatest benefit for the environment comes from not buying new unnecessary things. Therefore, don’t let an impulse dictate your buying behaviour. Consider where the product comes from and if nobody has suffered during its production ? Why do you think some clothes are so cheap despite being imported from another end of the world ? Considering that it would cost three times as much to produce them in your own country. Not mentioning the long and uneconomical transportation ways.
Refuse – Say no to a plastic bag at a counter (always carry a cotton bag with you). Refuse an unnecessary plastic fork when buying a take-away meal (which became our reality during the Pandemic). Don’t accept a printed ad flyer. Don’t take a price list or a menu but rather take a photo of it with your phone…
Reduce – Don’t get caught up in a consumption spiral fueled by advertisements. If your phone still works, do you really need that new model that was just launched on the market ? Are you really going to be happier if you buy that new tanktop ? Just because an influencer said that ‘you deserve it’ ?! Is a shopping mall really the best place to go for a walk ???
On that note – if you like to go with the newest trend – here you can re-think because Minimalism is actually trendy now !
Less is more – the trend of Minimalism
I’m happy to observe that people re-evaluate what is really important in life. Experiencing instead of having. Becoming instead of getting. Also reselling and giving away is now in trend.
During the Pandemic we have more spare time for a big house cleaning or even a renovation. It’s the perfect time to declutter ! At the same time, we are more careful with our spendings. The shops are closed and the uncertainty of tomorrow might ease the shopping frenzy. We realised that we didn’t buy a new pair of pants for a year and a half and that ‘it’s OK’. All of a sudden it comes to our mind that we actually don’t need that much at all !
For me personally that realisation came after my first silent retreat in a Buddist Meditation Center in Thailand (I highly recommend this incredible experience to everytime) but I can observe that the Pandemic changed the mindset of some people around me. Bravo I say and I choose to believe that this ‘trend’ will not die out.
If you ‘can’t be bothered’ to resell, at least don’t throw, but give away. You can donate your clothes/ shoes/ blankes/ curtains etc. to the Red Cross or any other Good Will organisation. There is so much poverty in this world. You can make someone very happy by donating.
Recycle, Recover & Reuse
Recycle – this one is self explanatory. We all should be programmed to recycle by now. It’s 2021 ! If you don’t do it yet, start NOW !
Recover – in the sense of repair. Get handy. Fix it. Like in the old times. Try to find spare parts and play the mechanic. Often, it’s something simple: repaint, stitch, screw together. If you can’t do it yourself, find someone who does. There are heaps of handyman related websites. Say no to the throwaway culture.
Reuse – use the same item again and again. A bottle, a box, a jar. Don’t throw them away straight after the first usage. Or even after its first life-cycle. You can repurpose and transform an object into a different one.
What is going to happen with the clothes you toss? Maybe try to give them a second life by redesigning them ? If you are not an artsy person and DIY/ crafting is not your cup of tea, at least try to give them to someone else. If an item is not longer of an use to you, it doesn’t mean someone else might not want it. People have different likings and gusto. They sometimes look for the weirdest things. You would not imagine what people in flea-markets are happy to find on someone else’s stall ! What might be rubbish for one person, can be a precious gem for another.
Nowadays there are tons of websites and apps on which you can resell all kinds of stuff: furniture, electrodomestics, clothes, decorations, books…Even Facebook has its own ‘marketplace’. I personally am a huge fan of second hand/ charity/ vintage shops and flea markets. I love both – selling and buying. It’s ecological, economical, UNIQUE and it makes both parties happy to give the item a second life (& love).
Making an individual, personal contribution
Ok, I’m not saying that I’m a saint. I’m a frequent flyer. I travel a lot in general, I eat meat and I love my bubble baths. My apology to the universe. No one is perfect. But I’m trying to improve. For example, I haven’t owned a car for many years (using public transportation or a bike if I can). I never waste food. Second hand is for me the best way of shoping. I always buy locally..
Years ago when I embarked on a minimalistic lifestyle I asked myself a very important question: ‘Why claim ownership of something if we can reduce fixed costs by renting in the moment of need (a scooter, a campervan, an office space, an accommodation) ?!’ I love our era of social sharing. Co-working-spaces & co-living spaces. Carpooling & Uber, AirBnB. Why waste resources if we can share them ?
Here is my personal bullet point list of contribution ideas (I love bullet points) for you to pick from. I hope to have inspired you just a little. Every step counts, even the smallest act of kindness towards our planet.
Please spread the word if you liked this article. Let’s rise awareness. Mother Earth will thank us.