Day 2: Reduce, Buy Less {Tips}

The simplest and most effective way to be greener is to reduce our consumption. It's simple in its principle, but may not be as easy to actually do, because we live in a world that tells us we need to buy, buy, buy to be happy and to stimulate the economy, and who constantly bombards us with new products (iPad anyone?).

Everything we bring into our homes has the potential to eventually become trash. Except maybe what we actually eat, but then again most of the time the food's packaging is a waste.

This is why I hate throwing things away! I hate the idea that it's just gonna go to the landfill. So I hold onto them in the hopes that maybe I can reuse it in some way.

But what if we controlled what goes into our homes? We would ultimately be controlling what comes out, ie trash, too.

In order to reduce what comes into our homes, here are a few tips; a list called To Buy or Not To Buy.

What NOT to do

1. Never buy something the first time you see it. You are more likely to buy it on impulse, without thinking about whether you really need it, or even want it. Think about it a few days, if you can justify it's need, or if you REALLY want it still, then you can get it.

The exception here is if it's actually on a list of things you've been looking for, you can get it when you see it. You should still ask yourself if you really want it, though, if it meets all your criterias, and don't settle for something that is just good enough! Cuz when the perfect model comes along, you'll regret settling.

2. Just because something is on sale doesn't automatically justify you buying it!! The previous point still applies here. I'd love to actually have a stat for this one, I am sure that what we buy on sale we use even less than if it was full price.

And often times, you can't return sale items, so you really do need to think extra hard on whether you need the item or not. Which brings me to...

3. You can (almost) always return an item within a certain period of time. Because sometimes we still get wrapped up in the item and can't say no, but when we get home we are double guessing our purchase. Put the item "on probation", don't open it right away, or if it's still returnable after opening then it's ok. If you haven't used it within the month or don't love it anymore, return it.

4. Control yourself in the dollar store. This one is my weakness, I must admit. I'm trying to be better though. Even if something was 1$, if it breaks within 1 week, a month, a year, then it's effectively useless and worthless. Sometimes waiting out and spending a little more on a better quality item will ensure that said item will not end up in the dump sooner than it should.


In the same train of thought, you don't need to bring home something even if it was free. If you got no use for it, let it go, someone else might have a better use for it. Of course, this isn't set it stone, I've seen some people come up with some very useful ways to utilize an item that they had no idea what to do with at first. But know yourself, if you got more stuff than creativity to know what to do with them, pass it up.

5. When considering purchasing an item, think about whether something you already have could do the job. If you are trying to decorate your home, shop you home and see if you can rearrange things, or pull things out of the closet to decorate with. Use what you already have!!

6. You don't need to upgrade your electronic devices every year (or couple of years). You just don't. Use electronics until the end of their life. Do you really need to upgrade your iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5, really? Again, point #1 is the golden "rule" and applies to most everything!

You don't NEED to upgrade to the iPhone5, they just change the size and the placement of the headphone jack but the difference doesn't justify upgrading (source)

For computers, this is where a bit a knowledge comes in handy. If you know how to maintain your computer, they can last you a long time.

Anyway, I'm dedication a day in the series for electronics, so I'll cover this more in details then.

7. Put a cap on the amount of toys your kids can have: 3-4 bins, or whatever is best for your family. Do a toy exchange with friends, family, neighbours, if the kids get bored of their toys. But a toy must be donated or exchanged before a new one can come in.

(source:The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking) Also a great article about toy rotation and how you don't need that many toys to make your kids happy!

Which brings me to:

8. Don't buy if you don't have the space for it. While taking those few days to think about whether you really need/want that item (or in the store if you can't wait that long), think about where it will go. If you don't have the space for it, and can't make the space for it, don't buy it.

9. If you think you need to replace something, first think whether you can give the item new life. Spray paint can do wonders and most anything! Sometimes a little bit of super glue can mend a broken item, or a bit of sewing can fix a small hole in a piece of clothing.

Entirely Smitten spray painted her old faucet, giving new life to an old thing and bypassing the dump at the same time!

10. Is there a reusable, made from recycled, or organic alternative? It's amazing the stuff they make reusable these days. Seriously, you'll see what I mean as I elaborate on this throughout the month.

Items made from recycled materials ensures that we are not taking more resources than we already have. Yes there is added pollution while making the new item from old material, so you should still try and reuse as much as you can, but it's still favorable to making from new materials.


11. Borrow from a neighbour. When you need a power tool for a project that you don't have, consider asking your neighbour to borrow theirs, especially if it's not something you see yourself using very often. Also consider purchasing the item with a neighbour, which splits the cost. Good excuse to get friendly with the neighbours ;)

My dad co-bought a snow-blower and a pressure washer with our neighbour. They are both things that are not used every day so they are easy to share. Well, for the snow-blower, they alternate who does both driveways, which works out good.

12. Be mindful of packaging and opt for the one with less packaging when you can Packaging can be so wasteful, especially when it's not recyclable.

There you go, 11 ways you can reduce the amount of stuff you buy and the waste buying creates. Reducing what we buy is the first line of defense! Who's with me?!

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1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on so many of these. I need to work on a number 9 solution for something that broke last week. I really don't want to replace it but I don't think superglue will hold because this item needs a certain amount of flexibility (it's one of those folding tote crates on wheels). I WILL find a solution somehow, GRIN!


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