I remember my Dad saying when I was a child how we’d become a throwaway society. Somehow we'd adopted the attitude that if something broke, why bother fixing it, just buy a new one. 20 years later that culture has only become more and more prevalent. There’s so many aspects in our lives where we’ve unconsciously become total consumers. If a TV breaks, we buy a new one. If our phones start getting slow, we buy a newer model. If our socks get holes in them, we throw them out.
I was talking to a friend recently about this throwaway culture and how we need to change our mindset to be less wasteful and excessive. This mindset shift has me now considering alternative solutions to problems or needs I have. Instead of rushing out and buying the next new gadget that will help me, I am learning to think of alternative solutions and retrain myself from that throwaway culture I had unknowingly adopted. Example: I love steamed dumplings and have begun making them at home for dinners. I thought I needed a bamboo steamer like the pros to get tasty dumplings. Turns out I can steam them in the frying pan with a little boiling water and the pan lid. I figure why buy the bamboo steamer when I can make do? It would only potentially become another one of those kitchen gadgets I end up getting rid of in 5 years time because I no longer use it.
Our consumption today has us even throwing away so much stuff that isn’t even broken! We finish using an item for it's purpose and we don't take the time to consider how we could re-use or re-purpose it. Example: I love pickled vegetables so there’s always empty glass jars being washed and popped in my recycling bin. (By the way we put stuff in our recycling bins thinking we’re doing such a good thing, but it’s not as clean, green as we might hope when we look into how much of our recycling ever actually gets recycled! But I digress, that's a topic for another day). But with a small change in my mindset, I’ve started keeping my glass jars and re-purposing them. To store pantry ingredients in and be able to fill them at bulk stores & use them indefinitely instead of buying my ingredients in plastic containers! I’ve been making my own cleaning products and some basic skin care products, so these glass jars are perfect containers for that too! Obviously there’s no point hoarding glass jars and containers if I don’t have a use for them, but whenever I can re-use a container rather than throwing it in the recycling bin, I’m going to.
My friend was telling me how she had a pile of clothes that needed some repairs. She was determined to sit down in front of a sewing machine to stitch them up and get some more life from them. How often do you see that these days, really? And rather than go out and buy a sewing machine, my friend borrowed one to use. We so often just go out and buy low-use items, when we could just borrow one from a friend or family member to get the task done. Another example along the same lines; in our efforts to declutter (We are not what we own) I painfully let go of a huge amount of my book collection and have since started going to the local library for books, instead of buying books.
My Dad grew up during the depression and he told me that his socks would eventually have more darning in them than original sock, but times were tough and there wasn't the money to just buy new ones every time he wore a hole in them. We are lucky not to be living in such economically tough times, but we also live in an age where so many people are living outside their means, spending money faster than they make it. The booming world of credit cards alone is evidence of this.
Who else is over consumerism and the throwaway society we live in? Are there purchases on last month's credit card statement for 'things' you don't even want/need/love anymore? Have you started a journey of trying to re-use and re-purpose? When was the last time you repaired something instead of just buying a new one? Do you borrow low-use items instead of cluttering up your drawers with expensive gadgets/tools/stuff that you only use once in a while?