Things you dont need to buy – reducing waste

August 19th, 2009


Photo by: D’Arcy Norman

Local. Used. Eco-Friendly. Less

These are the four words I keep in the forefront of my mind when shopping. From clothing  to food, if its not local, used and/or eco-friendly, I wont buy it.  Here’s how I apply “less” to shopping:

First and foremost, I try to focus on buying and acquiring less.  I’ve learned the hard way that having less is more economically and environmentally friendly, especially if an item is not built or manufactured for long-term use.   Though its beneficial from a financial standpoint, for the purpose of this post, my focus is environmental.

Here are a few common items that we don’t need to buy, that only ends up in the landfills.

  • Magazines - I canceled my magazine subscriptions a little over a year ago and I couldn’t be happier.  The magazines I collected were full of ads, nauseating perfumed pages, and they took up precious space in my home.  I flipped though the pages to cut out certain articles, photos and words for art projects and tossed the rest (with the exception of National Geographic and a few trade magazines).  Though they were recycled, it was still a waste of paper.  At the time, I was subscribing to  mostly beauty and fashion magazines and I find well written articles, photos and information from fashion blogs and websites without wasting paper – and its free.
  • Paper napkins - Investing in cloth napkins can go a long way in reducing waste.  Since used napkins are not recyclable, they eventually end up in landfills. The same would apply to paper towels and disposable cleaning cloths.
  • Technical and computer software books - I cant tell you how many antiquated software books I had to get rid of over the years.  They are difficult to hand off to someone else and even many libraries don’t want them (who needs Windows ’95?). If its not available at the library, downloading an electronic version would be the next best thing.  The same might apply to map and travel books too.
  • Bottled Water – We all know about this one.  Using non-plastic reusable bottles will go a long way in reducing plastic waste. I do have a case of water in my “earthquake kit” a few in the car for emergency purposes though.
  • Processed food – Pre-packaged processed foods can often create a tremendous amount of waste and may of it isn’t recyclable.    Buying produce, bulk grains, nuts seeds and oils, and meat and fish from the counter (instead of the styrofoam packages) will go a long way in reducing waste.

What other common items have you purchased that in hindsight really isn’t necessary but wasteful?

I’m sure we all can create a long list.

16 Responses to “Things you dont need to buy – reducing waste”

  1. Shawanda says:

    I used to purchase paper plates. Yesterday, I was thinking of buying some because I don’t have a dishwasher, and I really hate washing dishes. Just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s just too much waste.
    .-= Shawanda´s last blog ..4 Reasons You Should Never Cosign A Loan =-.

  2. Lance says:

    Hi Carla,
    This is a great reminder when we’re out and about to purchase something – think twice. Do we really need that. The magazine subscriptions…that’s really a great one.

    I’m also thinking just in terms of sheer “stuff”, fewer gadgets (like some of those infomercials tout) and less vacation souvenirs (especially if they’re just going to end up in a box somewhere because there’s no place to display them). That said – some of both of these are okay for me…it’s just in moderation and/or do we really really need it.
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Laugh Out Loud! =-.

  3. Lovelyn says:

    I’m always trying to buy environmentally friendly products whenever I shop. I make my own cleaning supplies and everything. My mother had surgery not so long ago and I offered to clean her house and do laundry and things like that while she was recovering. She went out and bought a bunch of disposable cleaning supplies for me to use. I didn’t want to use them, but if I didn’t it would cause an argument so I just used them and felt really guilty about it.
    .-= Lovelyn´s last blog ..Fading Stretch Marks with Natural Oils =-.

  4. Wilson Pon says:

    Carla, I personally against the use of bottled water, as it’s completely a waste! As a result, I never buy any bottled water since 10 years ago…!

    Honestly, since the Arctic Sea ice thinning matter is becoming worse day after day, we should immediately do something to cut off the carbon offset.

  5. How about clothing? Sometimes I buy something and only wear it once. Or cheap clothes, that fall apart after a few washes and have to be thrown away. Buy less and buy to last!
    .-= Michelle @ Find Your Balance´s last blog ..Walking Jodie’s Path – Part 1 =-.

  6. Carla Rose says:

    Paper plates are a huge waste if you don’t need it. We are moving soon and I really want to pack all of our real plates and get disposable ones, but I just cant do it either!

  7. Carla Rose says:

    @Lance – I like to think about how I will use something before getting it. Decluttering in preparation of relocating has really opened my eyes.

  8. Carla Rose says:

    @Lovelyn – I think using them is better than throwing them again. I probably would have given them away since I wouldn’t want to give myself a huge migraine!

  9. Carla Rose says:

    @Wilson – I totally agree with you on that one.

  10. Carla Rose says:

    @Michelle – I stopped buying super cheap clothing and that reduced a lot of waste and things I had to throw out. When I buy something I tend to keep it forever (unless I shrink out of it). If I’m getting rid of something, I at least would like to be able to donate it.

  11. Hi Carla,

    What a great list! I totally agree on all points. I stopped subscribing to magazines as well. You can read all the articles you want online, and then some. And the ads aren’t as overpowering either. ;)

    I always think twice before buying clothes. I actually went on a clothes shopping fast last year, and didn’t buy anything (for the most part).

    Right now I’m packing for a move, so I’m even more cognizant of all the “stuff” I’ve accumulated, from clothes, shoes, and other decorative things. Oy.
    .-= Nathalie Lussier´s last blog ..21 Ways to Sneak More Vegetables Into Your Diet =-.

  12. Carla Rose says:

    Nathalie, I’m packing for a move too and recently got rid of a bunch of clothes (I wasn’t using) in a clothing swap and donation. Its amazing how much we have around our homes that we don’t even use.

  13. [...] Things You Don’t Need to Buy – Reducing Waste by Carla Rose @ Green and Chic [...]

  14. Davina says:

    Hi Carla. Those small propane tanks for BBQ’s are a thorn in my side. There isn’t anywhere near my apartment where I can dispose of them. Last year, I brought the few empties I had with me when I went camping and they disposed of them. This year, I haven’t bought any, nor have I lit my BBQ. And actually, I haven’t missed it.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Social Media? Go Ahead, Fly Your Freak Flag =-.

  15. Bakari says:

    I never thought about using washable napkins. That is something I can do immediately.
    .-= Bakari´s last blog ..Can TV Shows Increase Social Skills? – Revisiting “Everything Bad is Good for You” =-.

  16. [...] too long ago, I wrote a post about certain household items that are common purchases, but  are not needed and creates a lot of waste in the short or [...]

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