Saturday, April 24, 2010

Consuming Less Stuff

First, I want to give a big shout out to Beth Terry ( and her post, Earth Day 2010: Buying Green vs. Being Green.  In it, she talks about a subject I have come to feel strongly about - that consuming more than we need is not good for the planet, whether the products are considered eco-friendly or not.  I know that being a consumer is linked with being patriotic in the U.S., but that seems like an outdated and unworkable mindset to me.  I don't want to be called a consumer.  I'm so much more than what I buy.  How about calling everyone Contributers, implying that their unique personalities, gifts, and talents contribute to our society and our world in a positive way?  That feels much more uplifting and inspiring to me.

So in honor of Earth Day (which was Thursday - but really, every day is Earth Day right?), here are a few ways Mark and I have been consuming less stuff we don't need.  I encourage you to comment with your list as well.

1.  We use baking soda for deodorant, cleaner, in our homemade detergent, and cooking.  One recyclable cardboard box instead of many different plastic containers.

2.  I've stopped using shampoo and any hair products, and my hair looks better than it ever has.  (More on that in a later post).  This cuts out shampoo, conditioner, hair wax, and mousse, all of which were in plastic containers.

3.  For our wedding registry, instead of asking for stuff, we asked for well-wishes.  If someone wants to give us a gift, we've asked that they contribute the money they would have spent on a blender toward our European trip.

4.  I'm making my wedding dress out of material I found at goodwill for $15.  It's coming along really well.  You can check out the progress at the Laughing Princess Sewing Diary.

5.  We've stopped using paper towels and toilet paper (more on that in a later post as well).  This saves trees and the plastic these products are usually packaged in.

6.  We make our food from scratch instead of using pre-packaged meals.  Our diet has greatly improved, our fridge looks like a beautiful garden, and we spend time in the kitchen cooking together now, which is really enjoyable.  No plastic, no preservatives, no mysterious chemicals and other ingredients.  All yummy goodness.

7.  We've cleaned out our house and donated the things that didn't have meaning or use for us anymore to Goodwill. This allows us to see what we already have so we don't buy things twice, we've discovered all sorts of treasures, and we have a greater appreciation of our space.

8.  We furnished our apartment with awesome used furniture from Craig's List.  I think it's a great idea to buy used items.  Technically, that's still consumerism, but I think it's better to use what has already been created than use up new resources to create the same thing.

9.  We created a virtual Save the Date and Invitation Video for our wedding.  No paper (and many of the fancy invitation papers are not recyclable), creative and fun, original, and totally free.  By the way, the link to the invitation video sends you to our wedding website, where you can read about how Mark and I met and how he proposed to me.

I'm not anti-consumerism, I'm just not for the needless buying and shopping for "stuff" that is so encouraged in the US. Like do we really need 20 different household cleaners, or can we use items we already have in our home to create great eco-friendly cleaners?  Do we need to use ziplock bags, which are not recyclable in my city and are plastic and quickly thrown away, or can we use reusable containers?  Do we need to use up a hundred paper napkins, or can we use cloth napkins?  Do we need our cookies individually wrapped, or can we buy them all in one bag?  These are questions I've asked myself and continue to explore in different areas as Mark and I are changing the way we live our lives.

What are your ideas?  In what ways are you consuming less and living greener?

(This article is also posted at

1 comment:

Caitlin S. said...

You know I'm a new kid at all of this, but Steve and I don't buy pre-packaged food anymore either, though not necessarily to be was to be healthier! We used to buy so much of it in college, but now we prefer a more homemade diet. Glad to know we're being green too! I never thought of it that way.

Man, I really want to know what you use instead of toilet paper and paper towels! And do you not wash your hair with anything? Just water?

Interesting stuff!