UK per year – 209 million tonnes of waste – Only 44.5% recycled / recovered – 23% to landfill
It only takes a glance around to realise we live in a throwaway culture.
We have been groomed to love all things shiny and new, and despise all things old (even if still in good working order).
We consume 50% more stuff than our grandparents did 50 years ago.
Back then, “stewardship and resourcefulness and thrift were valued.” says Annie Leonard, whose 2007 documentary, The Story of Stuff, tracked the cycle of commodities from production to disposal. www.storyofstuff.org
The endless cycle of consume, pleasure, disappointment, consume… makes us unhappy.
It just doesn’t enrich us in ways that matter.
Not only failing to make us happy, it’s choking the planet. The discarded stuff all ends up somewhere – in our waterways, adding to landfill, polluting the landscape.
Well, here’s the thing. All revolutions start small, right?
Small steps and little victories, here and there.
Here’s a few you can win straight off.
Ditch the disposable
Just six of the world’s biggest drinks manufacturers create over two million tonnes of bottle waste each year. Plastic drinks bottles, disposable coffee cups, plastic bags have become a sea of pointless, dangerous waste on our streets and oceans.
It’s not news – refillable, non-disposable drinks containers and bags are world class world savers. Small things. Always.
For one day, pay attention to how much stuff is pointlessly disposable. It’s an eye-opener.
Become a smart fixer.
How dare something not work for us immediately! A slow laptop or non-sucky vacuum cleaner is enough to send us into an apoplectic fit of rage (ooh, is that just us?).
We’re conditioned to want perfect performance, now.
If not? A new vacuum, and the old useless one is on the dump. That’ll teach it!
But seriously, isn’t being resourceful, smart and gaining a few repair skills much cooler than having a ‘get me a new one’ hissy fit?
Being a fixer not a thrower increases the skill set and ability to deal with adverse circumstances and saves money. We get smarter, richer and the planet gets cleaner!
Make “new, shiny, latest, must-have” a dull, unimaginative thing of the past. It’s boring and stressful trying to keep up with latest fads and fashions.
Imagine being told ‘wear this, it’ll make you look amazing’ then one month later being told ‘God, what are you wearing? Wear this instead’.
This is what we do with fashion and fads. What are we. Sheep?
Looking beyond buying a new version straight from the manufacturer or shop saves cash, requires a bit of imagination and won’t add to the landfill mess. There are so many sites from ebay to freecycle. Vintage to charity shops.
Increasing pre-loved choices is just smart.
Re-Home, re-purpose, donate.
The bin is not your friend. The charity shop, online auction, dog rescue centre, clothes bank and used furniture store are.
Re-programming our minds to see something as usable rather than rubbish is probably the most important thing we can do. Change what we see.
Lots of people are glad of stuff. Lots of people can use it. And sometimes it has monetary value.
Sell it, give it, donate it, fix it.
Buy the lunch salad in the cardboard, not the plastic. 100% recycled printer paper instead of normal. These options are so common they are almost overlooked. There’s a growing trend of thinking “what difference will it make?”
It does. It will.
It shows manufacturers that consumers are prepared to vote with their cash for sustainable. And that cash matters to them. More than anything in the world – never mind the world.
Buy good. Always. Vote with every buy.
These are 5 small ways to cease the pointless pollution of the planet. No one gains but the big companies competing for our money.
But something else happens too.
When you begin to accept that what you have is enough and start to let go of some of that consumption — including shopping, social media, overeating, anything that involves “input” mode — it can be exhilarating.
“People think it’s a sacrifice to consume less, when actually it feels like freedom.” Says Joshua Becker, author of The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own.
Go for clean. Go for smart. Go for freedom.
Small victories always.
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