I work with a lot of avid recyclers. They painstakingly go to tremendous lengths to make sure their unwanted items get to the right place: tech stuff to places like Comprenew; paper carefully watched for glitterific embellishments added to them to keep those out of recycling; plastic containers getting rinsed before getting moved to the curbside recycling pick up. My clients often look at me in horror when I tell them something can't be recycled or donated, that it has to be thrown away. "I feel so bad adding something to the landfill" is a phrase I have heard more times than I can count. When people struggle to let paperwork from long ago move out of their homes but are avid environmentalists I remind them that they can't save trees by NOT recycling their old utility bills, documents printed that they never actually used or piles of magazine pages ripped out for inspiration pre (and even post) Pinterest because they feel guilty. "You have to get this stuff into the recycling to help save trees" is usually a pivotal phrase I utter that helps people let go of that excess paperwork.
These avid recyclers are often also avid shoppers. Consumers that love beautiful packaging, the next best thing and are sometimes engaging in retail therapy that's a band-fix filling an emotional void that's being caused by something deeper. They're also double, triple & quadruple buying items because they can't find what they already own due to disorganization. So what's my response to the "I don't want it in the landfill" hurdle? Then stop consuming & organize more. Don't buy this stuff, let it break or realize you never loved it, never used it & don't need it & then realize it's not something that can be recycled or is no longer donatable. Don't go shopping when you can't find something you own, instead organize your home. Just don't enter into the dance. Stop. Don't Shop. This is one of my mantras my clients hear me say & when they embrace it that's when I start to hear "This has changed the way I shop" or even better is when I hear "This has changed my life." I'm not necessarily saying don't spend money, just change the way you spend it. Put that money towards experiences, spa days, vacations, funds for helping others, whatever it is that makes you feel really fulfilled. You're still helping the economy & you will still be buying some stuff, we have to have some things. It's the volume that's in question for most people & is what's causing them stress. If we stop buying so much stuff we can actually help the environment. Hanging onto trash because we don't want it in the landfill doesn't make it not-trash...it's still trash even if it's sitting in your basement. No matter which way you shake it that thing is going in the landfill eventually. You have to stop it at the source, a systemic fix. Stop. Don't shop. Organize more.
Here's my Top Questions to Ask Yourself When You're Shopping:
1. If I decide in 2 months, 2 years or 2 decades I no longer want this thing am I okay with it ending up in the landfill?
2. Why am I shopping right now...am I buying things because I'm avoiding something or someone/sad/angry/craving love/stressed/for the shopping-high/can't find what I already own? End the retail therapy & dig deeper into what's really going on.
3. Do I Need, Love or will I Use this item? Honestly. Need is not want. There's a big difference. Just like I coach my clients in their homes to ask this to determine if they are keeping something I want you to do the same before it even makes it to your house.
Give it a try. Stop. Don't shop. See that checking account stay high. See the stress lower as clutter becomes less & less in your home. See the future of the environment improve because your actions do make a difference.
Change the way you shop & change your life. It's worth it.
Change the way you shop & stop climate change. The earth is worth it.