10 ways to consume less but impact more

North Americans consume a lot! I can write out a mile long list of stats about just how much we consume and waste in energy, food, fashion, etc. Instead, I want to focus on the upside of actively trying to reduce our consumption and waste. Each person can have such a large impact on our level of waste if we individually take steps to cut back and consume less.

Whether it's a meal or a new outfit, we are constantly making transactions for the purpose of making ourselves feel whole and full. But, it's important to start thinking about the greater impact you're having on your own health, bank account, and the planet as a whole. Seek out a new kind of full.

My resolution this year was to start making a dent in my level of consumption and waste, I've been focusing on how I consume my food, items, and even little things like how much paper towel I use or how many times a month I use the clothes dryer. It's not going to happen overnight, and it can't be expected to. It takes time to change and I'll be the first to admit that I'm still learning and challenging myself each day. 

So... since I've found it hard at times to think of ways that I can take action and measure my impact, I thought I would share what I've came up with so far. Hopefully, these tips might be helpful for some fellow folks trying to consume smarter and waste less.

Here are 10 little ways that I've been consuming less, but that have been having major influences on my general health and mood, and that contribute to the overall reduction of waste:

  1. Using a drying rack for clothes
    • A drying rack is super cheap at somewhere like Walmart, in my case my roommates had one so it literally costed me nothing to start. Helps clothes last longer ($$) & reduces energy use
  2. Using a reusable water bottle
    • If you're like me and have trouble staying hydrated this helps with that & reduces plastic waste & saves $$. My roommate has been let me use his Klean Kanteenand it's fantastic for hot & cold beverages
  3. Buying local when possible
    • I've even found a local source for milk, cities often have farmers markets that are worth checking out. This has so many positive effects. The energy used to travel food & create mass products is incredible
  4. Avoiding paper towel/napkins
    • This is a big one for me. I always take too many napkins or reach for a paper towel to clean. I've been finding J-Cloths or microfibre cloths to be great alternatives for a quick clean up. Also, have you seen the cost of these lately? Big $$ saver
  5. Eating no or less meat
    • Studies prove that meat consumption is a big energy user. If you can go full vegan, power to you. I've been personally trying to live a veg life recently with the exception of locally caught seafood
  6. Taking the stairs
    • Whenever possible take the stairs! Elevators use a ton of energy and I don't know about you, but I can always use the extra exercise, especially in winter months
  7. Packing a lunch
    • If you're a University student this saves you lots of $$, campus food is expensive!! In general, packing a lunch saves $$ and if you use a reusable container you're avoiding the inevitable takeout waste
  8. Seeking sustainable fashion
    • I'll admit, I'm still really trying myself on this one. But the chain impact that supporting sustainable, quality made fashion can have is incredible. So, let's try to avoid fast fashion together
  9. Avoiding disposable wipes for make-up & cleaning
    • I was using make-up wipes almost every night, now I opt for cleanser, water and a cloth, this is totally better for your skin, saves $$, and reduces waste. I’m also guilty of being a big user of cleaning wipes, and I’ve been opting for reusable cloths with cleaner instead, again $$ & waste
  10. Reusable bags at the store
    • I struggle to remember mine every time, but each time counts and the more you do it the easier it gets to remember. Plastic bags aren't a huge source of waste but they do have an impact, and now many stores charge so it can also be a $$ saver long term

Remember, even making the smallest efforts can go a long way for you and the environment. If you have any other tips for consuming smarter and reducing waste, please share! Always looking for more ideas!

-xo, a.