Love what you have and use it before you buy something new.
When I started my sustainability journey about three years ago, I was under the impression that things were only sustainable if they were created with that intention.
I thought that a metal water bottle that was meant to be reused was sustainable, whereas that old reusable plastic water bottle that had been sitting in the cupboard was nothing but a sad reminder of how wasteful society could be. I know now that I was approaching sustainability all wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely amazing that many companies are creating reusable products to replace their disposable relatives. Especially when these new products are created using recycled material and ethical labor.
I think that these businesses are very important to the zero waste movement and to sustainability as a whole, however, they still encourage us to buy more before thinking of what we already have.
The most sustainable product is the one that you already have.
It doesn’t matter if it was produced with sustainability or the good of the planet in mind. The resources have already been used and people have already put their time and effort into shaping that product and bringing it to you.
The best thing that you can do is to not let all of the labor and materials go to waste, and instead appreciate everything that you already have.
I have found that looking at my possessions with gratitude is the most transformative thing I have done to be more sustainable. If I treat everything I have with excitement and love then I am less likely to get bored of them and want to replace them with something newer and better.
Don’t feel guilty about anything that you have in your house that may have been produced in subpar conditions, but rather think of how much better it would be if you honored the resources and labor that it took to get that product all the way into your house.
Wouldn’t a tree be happier that it was cut down to make the notebook that recorded your thoughts than to sit empty on a shelf? Or the worker that the t-shirt they sweat over making was being styled in new ways to be worn many times rather than forgotten about?
Take a look around your house and see if you have anything that you’ve forgotten about. If you find that you have belongings that you never use, think first if it could serve another purpose in your life before getting rid of it.
If you can’t think of any other uses, reach out to your friends and family and see if anyone would have use for it.