5 Steps To Creating "A Life Less Throwaway"
So often in today’s world we are quick to address a problem by addressing the product creating the problem, rather than actually addressing the behavior (or system) behind the product — which is behind the problem in the first place.
Take plastic as an example. We blame it for the destruction of our planet, we blame it for ocean pollution, we blame it for land pollution. We blame it for any problem we can really tie it to. But plastic really isn’t the problem — the way we use plastic is.
But if we were to address that the way we use plastic (and we have started to) is the real problem, well then that would be pretty hard now wouldn’t it? Because that would mean that we as humans would have to think creatively and adapt. We would have to change.
The issue is that we’ve gotten so used to the convenience that comes with something like plastic that we have forgotten how to think beyond it. We have quite literally forgotten how to live without it.
Which is why we all need to take a lesson or two from our grandparents and great-grandparents, some of the most incredible creative thinkers we know/knew, and who lived most of their lives without depending on something like disposable, single use, plastic. And while we’re at it, let’s remember that they also lived without fast fashion, without paper towels — without amazon.
They lived in a way that could last a lifetime. Items of clothing were valued for their quality, and stitching — and they could tell if it was good enough because everyone knew how to sew.
Kitchen items were passed down from generation to generation, and the value of a well seasoned cast iron pan was never overlooked. They had linen chests, because linens (unlike today) were not something that were replaced every year or so, they were keep, and cared for, and passed down.
They lived in a way that valued “things” for a lifetime, and they expected them to last. It’s one of the biggest differences between the way they lived and the way we do today. They expected things to last, and so they did. Today we expect things not to last, and so they don’t.
And so we perpetuate our throwaway culture, but it’s time things changed. People are starting to wake up to the destruction (both environmentally and economically) that this way of living has on our lives and our planet. People are starting to demand better, they are starting to demand that the things they choose to spend their money on are made to last.
Which gets me back to where we first started — it’s not enough to demand that the things we own last a lifetime, we need to change the behavior around how we own them. We need to learn how to own less, but better. We need to stop thinking of our planet as “away” and start realizing that most items we purchase will either end up in the homes of our future children and grandchildren, or will end up in landfills.
There is no “away” — so let’s stop acting like it.
5 Steps To Creating "A Life Less Throwaway"
Before you make any changes to your current lifestyle it is so important that you first educate yourself. My best advice would be to start with books like A Life Less Throwaway, which can help you rethink the way you currently consume, and the way you could change.
Starting with a strong education is essential if you are going to make truly sustainable, long-lasting change. I also recommend that you purchase a journal and start writing out what your goals are.
Start thinking about what timeless pieces you ideally need/would like in your wardrobe. Then move on to other places in your life like your kitchen. What kitchen items do you need that could one day be past down?
Once you have a list and the education to back up this lifestyle change you will feel so much more confident and comfortable with the process.
break the cycle
This is the hardest part of the process. Learning to break the cycle of thinking about our clothing and consumer items as disposable and always replaceable is the hardest part of this process. So give yourself some slack, but remember that sometimes feeling uncomfortable actually means you are making real changes.
The best place to begin is to stop shopping impulsively. Rather than detouring on your way home from work to the nearest Target or Home Goods think of other ways that you can spend your time. Try seeking out your local antique or consignment shops (with a purpose in mind!), or opt not to shop at all and instead just spend time outside, or reading a book. This is about breaking the habit of the way we shop and what we buy — trust me it’s going to take some time.
become a curator
This is a tip taken straight out of Tara Button’s book “A Life Less Throwaway” and is one of the most important steps to living “A Life Less Throwaway”. If you are going to truly transition away from the throwaway culture, then you need to start thinking differently about the way you choose, inspect, and ultimately purchase the items you choose to bring into your life.
So become a curator, and start thinking about your home, body products, and wardrobe as an accumulation of pieces that one day ideally would be passed down to your children or grandchildren — or at the very least could last you a decade or more.
Tara has ten steps in her book to “Mastering Mindful Curation” which I would highly recommend checking out, and then utilize platforms like BuyMeOnce who have done a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the curation part for you.
invest in items that are made to last
Not only do we need to start demanding that items are made to last, we also need to start investing in them and supporting people and companies who are working hard to create items that can stand the test of time. This is where starting to look into company/brand policies, missions, and warrantees can really come in handy.
But if you don’t have the time for that (which I totally get) I also would highly recommend checking out Buy Me Once which is an online website that curates the highest quality consumer items that are made to last a lifetime. The small, but dedicated team at Buy Me Once, has taken the time to sift through hundreds of thousands of consumer companies, brands, and products to curate a highly refined set of products ranging from clothing, to home goods, to electronics all of which embody the social, environmental, and longevity driven ethics we all care so much about.
While many of the pieces on Buy Me Once are expensive, they also are meant to be investments. Again, when you aren’t shopping fast fashion (and aren’t impulse shopping at target) investing in more expensive, but higher quality, longer lasting pieces actually can save you a whole lot of $$$ in the long run.
My last, and probably favorite step, is to start valuing vintage. Vintage is cool — always has been, always will be.
Shopping vintage and antique pieces are incredible ways to bring a unique style to your home and wardrobe, and is arguably one of the most sustainable ways you can shop. By valuing vintage pieces you are increasing the longevity of an item, and are also encouraging more newer companies to adapt the production habits of older companies who were doing things right.
But don’t fall victim to buying “the look of vintage”, make sure you are buying the real thing. This most likely will involve your fair share of consignment, flee market, and antique store hunting but hey…that sounds like a perfect weekend to me.
Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for BuyMeOnce however all opinions as always are entirely my own. I only work with companies whose purpose, mission, and practice truly align with mine and who I believe will add value to the life of my audience.