Friday, March 29, 2013

Living today, with tomorrow in mind

What does "reducing consumption" actually look like? Is it as hard/scary as it sounds? Does it mean "sacrifice"?

These are some of the questions I tackled last night while giving my new presentation. I wanted to write this post to follow up on it and to share some related resources.
dried chickpeas from the bulk section in
a reusable fabric bag. The bag was made
from some curtain material, bought at a
thrift store. This helps eliminate the
plastic bag or the steel can that
would normally be associated with this purchase.
The more I do this job, the more I realize that while recycling is good, we're not going to recycle our way out of the mess we're in. We need more aggressive measures. Also, the majority of the environmental effects/footprint of the stuff we use comes well before we ever set hands on that stuff. In other words, the manufacturing of an item is generally more important than the end of the life of that item.

To illustrate this point for my audience last night, I linked to this report. It's a life cycle analysis (LCA) done by the Oregon DEQ that compares different ways to deliver drinking water and the differing environmental impacts. Unfortunately, I did a poor job of illustrating my point last night, but when reading back through that link this morning, I realized the bullets do a good job of saying what I was trying to say.

Some other relevant resources from the presentation:
Paper Karma helps you reduce unwanted junk mail
Two different "online resources" presentations I've given in the past with lots of lists/ideas (These can always be accessed in the right-hand bar under "Resources")
Using fabric as toilet "paper" (Two caveats for this link: 1. I'm not sure how concerned I am personally about BPA or BPS in my toilet paper and the author doesn't link to any evidence in the post. And, 2. I'm not attempting this in our house-Not-hubby would never go for it, and sometimes you have to choose your battles. I included it, though, because it's another instance in which I had a knee-jerk reaction to a concept, but once I read the post about it, it doesn't seem so "scary" or "weird")

I talked a lot last night about consumption, but I think this article is a good one to read for a different way of looking at how we feel about consumption. (Turns out, we're all a little sick of it, actually...)

Lastly, I think one of the easiest ways to reduce consumption when it comes to food is to buy in bulk. Here's a really great round up of some of the benefits of buying in bulk and there's also a "buying bulk" challenge that you can participate in this month (April, 2013) and perhaps win a prize!

I've noticed that my own knee-jerk reaction to the term or concept of "reducing consumption" has been that it will be a sacrifice and people (including me) don't like change of any kind, much less sacrifice. But the most interesting thing about creating these new habits is that after awhile, you realize you're not really sacrificing anything. Moreover, there are hidden benefits (saving money, not having to deal with excess packaging, etc.)

What are some habits that you've created? Did you find it hard or did you feel like you were sacrificing? Were there unexpected benefits?

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