In recent years, ‘tidying up’ has become a phenomenon. People can end up accumulating so many possessions that they need a rubbish removal service to facilitate clearance.
It stands in stark contrast to our growing awareness of the global sustainability crisis. Consumers know that excessive consumption at the individual level is a major driver of unsustainable business practices. Yet somehow, we still wind up owning far more stuff than we actually need or use. It’s bad news for the environment and your finances as well.
The problem is that acting on such responsible principles is tied to green self-identity. And we don’t truly identify as being green unless we can habitually reinforce our awareness of saving the planet with concrete steps towards that goal.
One science-backed way to reduce your consumption of material goods is to seek alternatives in the form of experiences. Studies have shown that we feel greater happiness from experiential purchases compared to material ones. It’s one reason why travel has become such a popular option for spending disposable income.
Of course, travel comes with its own associated concerns regarding sustainability, and it still challenges your financial management. That’s why it isn’t the only option you should consider. Experiential purchases cover a broad swath of things we do, as opposed to the things we own.
If you like to travel for the novelty it offers, try doing so locally. Get around on foot, on a bike, or using public transportation. Cultivate an appreciation of art and watch local performances. These experiences stimulate you and enrich your life without incurring production costs or potentially gathering dust in your closet.
Follow a healthy diet
We don’t think of food as material consumption because it typically doesn’t sit in storage for long. Yet the production and sourcing of food have been identified as a major driver of sustainability concerns. In fact, food and beverage consumption was the focus of 42% of sustainability studies from 2016 to 2020.
Adhering to a healthy diet has manifold benefits in this area. It reduces your medical expenses and improves well-being, making you less likely to spend on unnecessary purchases as a form of coping strategy.
It also raises your awareness of proper nutrition, making you more discerning where food comes from. You can choose to buy from local suppliers and thereby reduce emissions. Finally, adjusting your nutrient profile can minimize the red meat composition of your diet, even if you don’t elect to go vegan.
Learn vocational skills
Generations of old were taught vocational skills, such as woodworking or sewing, as a possible means of earning a living. While that may not be a feasible career option these days, their value as a life skill remains. And learning such crafts now can help you implement green practices.
Thrifty homeowners have long appreciated the value of maintaining their property with the DIY know-how of carpentry, plumbing, or electrical skills. Repairing or mending various items can extend their lives, save you money, and lower production demand.
Explore the secondhand market
Sometimes, practical needs can be fulfilled without incurring further costs to the environment, and at lower personal expense, by turning to the secondhand market. Exploring local garage sales can be an excellent way to address those needs.
You can also increase the value of items you decide to sell or give away by imbuing them with narrative value. Family items can have a story that encourages the next user to reuse them instead of eventually scrapping them.
These practices represent a small but attainable step towards a stronger green self-identity. Through constant reinforcement, they create a positive feedback loop that will further encourage you to consume less, save money, and spare the planet further damage.