There is no denying that we live in a society that is ever-spoiled by convenience and abundance. And while we’ve been busy thanking our lucky stars, we’ve allowed ourselves to grow far too accustomed to the availability and the disposability of endless material goods. At the same time, we give little thought to how the items were produced or to where they will end up once they’ve outlived their usefulness to us. As a result, many of us have taught ourselves, and now our children, to consume at astounding levels.
We mothers have the power to change all of this. But we must acknowledge that the constant desire to acquire is neither healthy nor a sustainable way forward.
Doing better, as with pretty much everything, starts in our homes. We are “the deciders” when it comes to household purchases, priorities, and practices. And while change takes time, I can think of no others more capable or powerful than moms to lead the way.
Below are a few simple earth-friendly habits that can pave the way toward becoming a family committed to more conscious consumption.
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1 - Reduce or eliminate one-time-use disposable items.
Landfills are full of plastic cutlery, styrofoam plates, coffee cups, paper napkins, and plastic bottles. Even though it can be nearly impossible to avoid the use of disposables 100% of the time, a small investment in reusable items can dramatically reduce our collective carbon footprint and save a lot of money and energy over a short amount of time. So next time you are heading out the door, remember your coffee mug, water bottle, pack a waste free lunch, and skip those trips to the trash can.
2 - Bring your own bags, PLEASE.
It is estimated that there are between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags used every year throughout the world. That’s just crazy, people. However, paper bags are aren’t the solution because they require twice the energy in the production process. The answer? Reusables, of course! We all have them and some of us have scores of them. Just be sure you always have a pile of them in your car and USE THEM. It is that simple. Please…
3 - Choose to create memories through shared experiences rather than buying more stuff
If there is one thing I learned when we did our first Suburban Smackdown challenge, it was that experiences, hands down, trump the acquisition of stuff. Spending time with the people you love and creating beautiful memories together isn’t something that gathers dust on a shelf somewhere nor do they become threadbare over time. Instead, memories stick with us, help make us who we are, and give our life meaning. There is just no greater gift. It is love wrapped in action.
4 - Get out in nature.
Families that spend time in nature are more likely to value and protect it. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and not make time for all the gifts our natural world has to offer. Next time you are outside, take a good look around and imagine what the world would be like without the beauty of nature. Your own backyard or a nearby park can be a wonderland of discovery.
5 - Take time to consider the true “cost” of everything you purchase.
Every single item we consume whether it be food, clothing, goods, services or energy has an impact on our environment and on people’s lives. Our job as we become more conscious consumers is to consider these questions: How was this product made? How much energy was used and how much pollution was created? Was this product made on the backs of slave or child labor? Does the availability of this product to me (here) result in the lack of resources for someone else (somewhere else)? Yes, it is pretty heavy stuff, I know, but sustainability starts with awareness. And I dare say, if you believe in the golden rule or karma, these big questions about the true cost of our consumption habits become even more relevant.
While there are many more habits that we will need to develop in order to create a truly sustainable world for our children, even small steps in the right direction will move us forward. If moms like us make this our collective mission, we’ll knock it out of the park. That’s what we do.
For more information about what you can do to live more sustainably visit www.spunkyavocado.com or join our current Less Is More Movement on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1537680329866216/ where we will coach you through a full year of consumption-busting habits.