In today’s society, we’re constantly told that in order to be happy and successful, we need to consume more. We’re encouraged to buy bigger and better houses, cars, and clothes, and to never stop chasing the next big thing. But at what cost?
Our planet is struggling under the weight of human consumption, and if we don’t start making some changes now, we’re in danger of irreversible damage. The good news is, you don’t have to make huge changes in your lifestyle in order to make a difference.
It’s only natural that we want to consume less and cut down our carbon footprint. But how do you know where to start? What small changes can I make in my daily routine that will help preserve the environment?
There are many small things you can do on a daily basis that will help reduce your carbon footprint and preserve our planet for future generations.
In this article, we will be going over 25 simple ways you can consume less and help the environment.
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Table of Contents
- Why we should consume less
- 25 simple ways to consume less
- 1. Assess your belongings
- 2. Use reusable shopping bags
- 3. Reduce household waste
- 4. Shop in second hand stores
- 5. Don’t shop at all
- 6. Buy from sustainable companies
- 7. Buy better quality items
- 8. Only buy what you need
- 9. Follow the 24-hour rule
- 10. Pay with cash
- 11. Cancel subscriptions
- 12. Make a packed lunch
- 13. Grow your own food
- 14. Take a reusable water bottle with you
- 15. Make your own coffee at home
- 16. Plan your meals
- 17. Avoid eating out or takeaways
- 18. Use period panties
- 19. Use stainless steel straws instead of plastic
- 20. Go digital
- 21. Practice minimalism
- 22. Use energy efficient appliances
- 23. Unplug electronics when not in use
- 24. Walk or cycle instead of driving
- 25. Use eco friendly products
Why we should consume less
Before we go over the simple ways you can consume less, let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons why it’s important for us to consume less as individuals.
It hurts the environment: The more we consume, the more damage we do to our planet. Our resources are finite, and if we don’t start using them more responsibly, we’ll run out sooner rather than later.
It’s bad for our health: The production of all those unnecessary things we consume takes a toll on our health and the environment. From the factories that produce them to the landfills where they end up, everything we consume has an impact on our world.
It’s unsustainable: Our current model of consumption is not sustainable. We’re using up our resources at an alarming rate, and if we don’t change our ways, future generations will be left with nothing.
It’s addictive: We consume because it makes us feel good. The rush we get from buying new things is a powerful thing, and it can be hard to break the cycle.
It’s isolating: Our model of consumption encourages us to buy more and more stuff, which in turn isolates us from each other. We become so focused on acquiring new things that we lose sight of the important things in life.
It’s expensive: The more we consume, the more money we spend. And contrary to what advertisers want us to believe, you don’t need to buy new things all the time.
It’s a waste: A lot of the things we consume end up in the landfill. We buy things we don’t need, use them once and throw them away. This is not only wasteful but also harmful to the environment.
As you can see, there are many good reasons why we should consume less. But it’s not always easy to change our habits, especially when the world is constantly telling us to consume more. So how can we make a change?
25 simple ways to consume less
1. Assess your belongings
Have you ever found something in your home that you forgot you had? Or a duplicate item that you already bought? Go through everything you own and make a note of what you have. Often, this exercise is a huge wake up call and helps us to realise how much unnecessary stuff we have accumulated.
Be honest with yourself about what you no longer use or need and get rid of it. There are many ways to declutter your belongings and these posts will get you started:
- How To Declutter Your House In One Day: Room To Room
- How To Be Ruthless When Decluttering Clothes: An Essential Guide
- How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without The Overwhelming Guilt
- Overwhelmed by Clutter? Getting to the Root of Your Clutter Problem
- Why Is Decluttering So Hard: 9 Reasons You Can’t Clear The Clutter
- How To Tell If You Have Too Much Stuff: 13 Significant Signs
2. Use reusable shopping bags
Single-use plastic bags are one of the biggest contributors to landfills and ocean pollution. Each time you receive a plastic bag for your shopping, it takes around 1,000 years to decompose. Talk about unsustainable!
Store your reusable shopping bags in a handy place so you always have them with you when you go grocery shopping.
3. Reduce household waste
Did you know that we, the human race, throw away around 2.12 billion tons of waste every year? That’s a lot of waste!
There are many ways you can reduce your household waste, and it doesn’t have to be hard. Try these tips:
- Reuse takeaway boxes as lunch boxes
- Recycle as much as you can
- Compost your food scraps
- Use biodegradable products
- Invest in a water filter
4. Shop in second hand stores
Buying second hand is a great way to reduce your consumption. You can find real gems in second hand shops, and you’re not contributing to the production of more new items. Plus, it’s good for the environment because it keeps things out of the landfill.
Shopping in a charity shop also means you’re donating to a good cause. Win-win!
5. Don’t shop at all
One way to consume less is to stop shopping at all!
It can be really hard to resist the temptation of buying new things, but one way to make it a bit easier is to put yourself on a shopping ban for a certain period of time. Even if you just set a shopping ban for one month, you may find that you don’t need shopping in your life anymore afterwards. One month can turn into two, four or six and you’re on a roll!
6. Buy from sustainable companies
When you do need to buy something, try to buy it from a sustainable company. Sustainable companies are those that produce and sell their products in an environmentally friendly way. This could mean producing fewer emissions, using recycled materials or packaging, or being transparent about their supply chain.
7. Buy better quality items
They may cost more in the short-term, but better quality items will last longer and you won’t have to replace them as often. This means less items end up in the landfill, you end up saving money in the long run and you’re using fewer resources in the manufacturing process.
8. Only buy what you need
It’s easier said than done but we tend to buy a lot of things we don’t actually need. For example, if you have 5 pairs of jeans, do you really need another pair? One way to combat this is to create a list of things you need before you go shopping. This will help you stay focused and your purchases will only be items you actually need.
9. Follow the 24-hour rule
If you see something you want but don’t need, follow the 24-hour rule. This means waiting 24 hours before buying the item to see if you still want it after that time. Chances are, you’ll forget about it or realise that you don’t actually need it.
10. Pay with cash
When you’re paying with cash, you’re more likely to think about each purchase and whether you actually need it. Credit cards allow us to buy things without really thinking about it, because we don’t have to hand over any actual money. Try using cash for a month and see how it changes the way you shop.
11. Cancel subscriptions
That gym membership you haven’t used in months or years, the magazine subscription you never have time to read, the food delivery service you never use…cancel them!
This is an easy way to consume less without making any real changes to your lifestyle. And the best thing is, you’ll save some money in the process.
12. Make a packed lunch
Rather than spending money every day buying lunch, make a packed lunch instead. This will save you money, avoid waste as you can use leftovers from dinner the night before and reduce consumption.
13. Grow your own food
If you’ve got a garden, try growing some of your own food. This is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and it’s really fun to see things grow from scratch. You can also save money this way! Start small with some tomatoes or herbs and work your way up.
If you don’t have a garden, you can still give it a shot at growing your own herbs.
14. Take a reusable water bottle with you
Before you leave the house each day, fill up a reusable water bottle and take it with you. This is a great way to reduce your plastic consumption, as most of us consume way too much bottled water. Not to mention, reusable water bottles are really trendy right now!
15. Make your own coffee at home
If you need a coffee on the go, try making your own coffee at home and taking it with you in a reusable cup. This is much cheaper than buying coffee every day, and it also reduces waste.
16. Plan your meals
Plan your meals in advance and when you go to the shops, only buy what’s required for the meals. This will stop mindless consumption and stop you from buying things you don’t need.
17. Avoid eating out or takeaways
Eating out or getting takeaways is a really easy way to consume more than you need. Often the meals are huge and we end up wasting a lot. Takeaways come in plastic containers and will likely end up in a landfill somewhere. Try cooking at home more often and you’ll consume less without even noticing!
18. Use period panties
Period panties are a great way to reduce your waste and they’re really comfortable too. Rather than using disposable pads or tampons, period panties can be reused for multiple cycles. They come in a range of absorbencies, so you can find the perfect pair for you.
19. Use stainless steel straws instead of plastic
Plastic straws are one of the biggest contributors to ocean pollution. Why not try using stainless steel straws instead? They’re really easy to clean and they last forever. Plus, they come in lots of different colours and styles.
20. Go digital
Many of us consume way too much paper by printing off documents that we don’t actually need. Try going digital instead and save some trees in the process. You can store documents on your computer or phone, and you can print them off when you really need to.
Ask your bank and utility companies to send you digital copies only. A lot of companies are charging for sending physical copies these days so you might even save a few pennies in the process.
21. Practice minimalism
If you’re looking for ways to consume less, practicing minimalism is a great way to start. When you have fewer things, you need to buy less and consume less. It’s a really simple concept but it can be challenging to put into practice.
There are lots of ways to simplify your life and consume less with minimalism. Check out some of these posts to get started:
- Minimalism For Beginners: 10 Tips To Kickstart Your Minimalist Life
- Things I Stopped Buying To Embrace Minimalism
- 15 Minimalist Habits that will Transform Your Life
- 13 Brilliant Characteristics of a Minimalist Person
- 9 Types of Minimalists: Which One Are You?
- What is eco-minimalism and is it really for you?
22. Use energy efficient appliances
When it’s time to replace your old appliances, try using energy efficient models. They might cost a bit more upfront, but over time you’ll save money on your energy bills. Plus, they’re better for the environment!
23. Unplug electronics when not in use
Many of us leave our electronics plugged in when they’re not in use. This wastes energy and it’s not good for the environment. Try to unplug your appliances when you’re not using them and switch off lights when you leave a room.
24. Walk or cycle instead of driving
If it’s an option, try walking or cycling instead of driving. This is a great way to get some exercise and it also reduces your carbon footprint. If you live too far from your destination, try taking public transport instead.
Alternatively, driving part of the way and walking the rest of the way is a great way to get started.
25. Use eco friendly products
There are a lot of eco friendly products on the market these days. From laundry detergent to shampoo to paper towels, there are loads of products that are better for the environment. Try going green and using eco friendly products wherever you can and you’ll be doing your part in preserving our planet.
So there you have it! 25 simple ways to consume less this year.
I hope you’ve found at least a few of these tips helpful as you work to consume less. It can be daunting task, but it’s important work and together we can make a difference.
What are some ways that you have reduced your consumption?