When you can reduce the resources you use, it's even kinder to the environment than reusing or recycling. In addition to being better for the environment, reducing your use of resources tends to have a good effect on your personal budget. It can also produce other personal benefits—in some cases, a more efficient or longer lasting product can save your time and effort too.
Ways to reduceEdit
There are multiple ways to reduce. The simplest is to acquire fewer items. Other ways include sharing items, using more efficiently, using items that require fewer other resources or will last longer (requiring fewer replacements over the long term). This article describes these different techniques and gives some additional examples for reducing the resources you use.
Do you really need 4 pairs of jeans? Does the water need to run while you're getting ready to brush your teeth? In some cases, you may have good reasons for what, in other situations, might be a wasteful use of resources. But it's helpful to stop to consider what really has value to you.
Can you rent, borrow or share something? This can work especially well with larger, but rarely used appliances. For instance, if your carpet needs a deep cleaning once a year, instead of buying the cleaner, you can probably rent it—or even just pay someone to come in and clean it with the appropriate equipment. (On the other hand, if you have white carpets and small children, you may need this often enough to make the investment in a cleaner worthwhile.)
The line between reducing and reusing may be blurry sometimes. You reduce the global use of resources by reusing things even when you weren't the original user. So you may see some ways to reduce listed under reusing, or vice versa, such as going to second hand shops for things that don't need to be new.
Sometimes you can reduce what you use by selecting items that use fewer other resources. For instance, you may still have the same number of appliances, but they can use less power, water, etc. Something that requires less cleaning may not only save resources, such as water, lower pollution from cleaning products, but also have the advantage of saving you time and effort.
Similarly you can save time and effort when you don't need to keep buying supplies or replacements. Two appliances may cost the same, but maybe one brand normally lasts longer or needs less maintenance and fewer replacement parts.
On the other hand, sometimes maintaining equipment may require regularly changing a part, such as a filter, but lead to a longer useful timespan for the equipment. By replacing one small part, such as the oil in a car, you may reduce the need to purchase an entire car or engine.
Please add your suggestions of ways to reduce using resources to the following list:
- use regular washable plates rather than paper (With paper, it is used once, disposed, then another is needed.)
- don't run the water the whole time while you're brushing your teeth
- use lower energy light bulbs
- use energy efficient appliances
- use water saving showerheads
- don't run the sprinkler system when it's raining
- turn off the lights, radio, TV, etc. when you leave the room
There are places that specialize in renting equipment needed to maintain a home. You can rent short term for things you need only periodically or longer term if you cannot afford to purchase something now or if you will only need it for a fraction of its expected lifespan. For instance, if you only expect to be living in an apartment for a year, you might rent a window air conditioner with the expectation that the next place you live may already have central air, its own window unit or that one you buy might not fit in your next place.
In addition to renting equipment, you can rent things like clothing (especially tuxedos and other "fancy dress" clothing)
Perhaps your neighbor has a snow blower you can borrow, and you have a carpet cleaner your neighbor could use. You can borrow each other's equipment. Or in some cases with good long-term neighbors, friends or relatives, you can jointly buy some items that you each only need occasionally. Sometimes groups of people with similar interests will form clubs to buy more expensive or rarely used equipment and supplies. Each member pays a fee and gets to use the clubs resources.
Some other situations where this works include friends with similar reading tastes who take turns purchasing books and then share them. Another example is when people with children of similar ages trade or share toys. This way the children get to play with different toys when they tire of the old ones. But, by trading, both families save money and the children get to try out a wider variety of toys. This also works well when friendly families have children of different ages to pass clothing and toys down to younger children. Friends with similar tastes in clothing and sizes can expand their wardrobes by sharing or swapping.
Libraries provide another way to borrow books, and increasingly some other materials, videos, magazines, electronic games. Some will even lend various equipment.
Some other things to share: luggage, specialty kitchen equipment, hobby tools
Additional advantages or benefitsEdit
There are other advantages that many people find in reducing or living a simplified life. Fewer things mean less to manage, store, clean and care for or maintain. And that can also make it easier to focus on the things that are more important to you. It's easier to find the shirt you want in a closet that isn't over stuffed, or the paper you are looking for when there are fewer papers or files.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Reducing Waste
Thank you to the City of St. Louis, Missouri's recycling program for the next five links.
- Frenting "helps you lend, borrow, and share your stuff."
- Neighborhood Network List Services
- swap.com - "The World's Largest Swap Marketplace"
- loanables.com - these are loans at a fee, some services as well, browse by category or location
- barterquest.com - trade goods, services or real estate
- Green Goes Simple: Conservation at Home: Reusing and Recycling 101 by Dana Goeglein