Reduce

“Everywhere, we run into marketing messages that we deserve it, we work hard, we had a bad day, a little indulgence is good for our wellbeing. Sometimes, that is true. More often, consumption at the American level feeds unhealthy issues such as overeating, depletion of resources, unethical work conditions, poverty, addiction, and waste.”

This post is #2 in a series of 5. Be sure to check out the first post, Refuse.

Last Saturday found me standing outside of Collage, a local art and craft store that specializes in paper type crafts. I am a sucker for paper crafts. I love origami, stamping, sketching, journaling, etc. I knew better than to go in, because I knew I could not leave without buying anything.

There were a few problems with going in. Firstly, we implemented a new budget that allotted me $40 spending money a week, and I had already spent most of my $40. The second issue was that we were planning a no-spend September, and it was just one day before it began. Lastly, and most relevantly, I am working hard on being better at today’s blog topic: Reduce. Did I N-E-E-D a new bullet journal along with markers and washi tape to match? Resoundingly, no. Did I want them? Heck yes. I knew that no-spend September would be a bit of a challenge since like many of us, I get a high off that endorphin hit that comes from clicking on buy now, or walking out of a store with my new whatchamacallit. Additionally, I thought that moving all of the content I had in a bunch of apps and lists to a single journal I could handwrite like the old days would be a step in the direction of minimalism. Also, it would be fun! Lots of wholesome, creative fun!

Reducing our consumption of goods is something we Americans aren’t very good at. Heck, some people accuse minimalists and zero wasters of trying to sabotage our economy — even being un-American. Everywhere, we run into marketing messages that we deserve it, we work hard, we had a bad day, a little indulgence is good for our wellbeing. Sometimes, that is true. More often, consumption at the American level feeds unhealthy issues such as overeating, depletion of resources, unethical work conditions, poverty, addiction, and waste.

I’ll be the first to admit that reducing consumption is tough. I like food, a lot. I’m a sucker for Pinterest and the many art and decoration projects there. I have a four person household and keeping us all clothed, fed, comfortably housed and with decent personal hygiene requires a lot of consumption and it’s easy to get carried away with the messages we see in ads that newer is better, more effective, more natural, more everything.

Then there’s the pesky little issue I have with anyone telling me what I can and cannot have or do. Let’s say that self-discipline remains an ongoing personal growth opportunity. I know I’m not alone, though. It’s an American epidemic. As the image above illustrates, few of us even take the time to ask ourselves if what we are getting ready to buy is a N-E-E-D or a want. Doing what we want instead of what is truly good for us plagues us.

This has to change. It’s a process we’ve been working on in my home for some time, and it’s something I help my clients achieve as well. Buying with intentionality is critical to reducing waste and harm on many levels. Let’s break down the how-tos of this with a few practical examples:

  • Learn the difference between want and need and get in the habit of asking yourself which of these your purchase is, before you commit.
  • What are your financial goals? Will this purchase support them?
  • What are your environmental goals? Does this purchase reduce waste or increase it?
  • What are your goals towards minimalism? Will this purchase require ongoing maintenance even when you no longer enjoy it as much? Will you have to keep spending money on it? Will it add to or decrease physical and mental clutter in your life?
  • Is this item manufactured in an ethical way?

In the end, I did buy the journal and accessories. I chose one that was locally made with recycled materials by folks with physical and mental challenges, so that was a win. On the other hand, the markers are plastic and have a limited lifespan, so that’s a loss. The money I spent wasn’t enough to wreck my entire month’s budget, and I redeemed about 350 bottles and cans for recycling so I absorbed that alright. I have already spent at least 15 hours drawing and organizing in my journal and thoroughly enjoyed each of them.

What lessons did I learn? Avoid temptation altogether. Don’t walk on the block you know you can’t pass by without going in if you know your purchase doesn’t support your goals. Also, I learned that my journal can be a powerful tool towards supporting my budget and minimalism goals. Lastly, I was again reminded that many of the choices we face on this path aren’t clear cut. Sometimes, the best we can do is break even. As long as we are actively engaged, that’s okay. Next time, we will rock it!

3 Comments on “Reduce

  1. Pingback: Refuse: Part 1 in a Series of 5 – The Green Life

  2. Pingback: Reuse – The Green Life

  3. Pingback: Rot – The Green Life

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