The most difficult step for personal sustainability

When it comes to individual sustainability, I have found one thing to be the underlying issue and the most difficult to kick to the curb: simplifying my life.

Simplifying in the context of sustainability means few key steps need to be taken in the way a person consumes goods, buys food and practices sustainability habits. In my life, I begin each decision with, “Do I need this?”

“Need” has a variety of definitions in that sentence, but for the sake of what we are discussing, it means bringing actual worth to your life. It’s helpful to be strict and honest with myself as to what that means. For instance, anyone who has even had the idea that they would like to be zero waste has come across an ever growing number of products to help you. For me, this comes as a double edge sword – on one hand, I’m ecstatic that I can have a bamboo toothbrush or a completely wooden broom.

I don’t buy zero waste products unless I absolutely have to. Most of them, I simply don’t need. So I learned to say “no.” No, I will not be buying that new reusable water bottle because the large vodka bottle from last night is refillable and water tight. Plus, it’s a talking point when a boomer thinks I’m chugging vodka at 9 a.m. in my living room.

No, I don’t need to buy a record player when I’m going to stream most of the time anyways and listen to the music anywhere I want at a better quality. No, I’m not going to find a printer and print the assignment out for my instructor when they can just learn to use iLearn properly.

All these things might sound easy to do now, but they took time to train myself to do and think about. It’s taken years to work up the courage to say I’m not using paper to my teachers. It has been a constant argument in my head about if I’m buying a record player because it’s cool or if I actually think the music sounds better.

As all these amazing zero waste products come out, remember reducing, repurposing and reusing come before purchasing. It’s hard not to get caught up in the consumerist mindset even if the products you’re buying have good intentions behind them. Be skeptical and don’t be afraid to just say “no.”

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