We use too much of it.
What a boring lead to a story. But it’s true.
And, hate to say it, but I never quite realized how much it’s true until I ran out of money recently (remember, I’m a senior in college) and noticed just how much stuff I’m accustomed to buying.
I feel like I’ve been deceiving you all by saying how careful I am with purchasing. Because I am. Well, er, was. Well, I thought I was.
I'm so sneaky.
I might bring my own cup to the coffee shop, but accept a Styrofoam container at lunch because that’s all there was.
I might use a cloth bag at the grocery store but stop and get ice cream in one of those little paper cups with those little plastic spoons and those little paper napkins. (Note: this picture <<< is the trash from one day ONE DAY at red mango fo-yo shop.)
“Because that’s all there was.” Hm, I don’t think I like that anymore. I hate to see all that stuff get used by anyone, but I really hate to see some of it get used by me.
I think this realization will make it easier for me to do a few things:
#1, and perhaps most notably, spend boatloads less money. Since I stopped carrying my wallet, I’ve brought tea to class, made breakfastlunchanddinner, not spent exorbitant amounts in coffee shops because I went in with my laptop and good intentions (i.e. coffee, black) but gave in (i.e. medium iced soy mocha), drank less alcohol, not bought little things (nail polish at Walmart, cool pen at book store, cute little notebook at cute little gift store, worthless piece of [colorful] plastic crap at the dollar spot at target), ETC.
#2, gotten angry about the fact that I did these things, and started to do something about it. Ever since I read this earth day post about our impact (consumer demand) on stores (supply), it’s really had me thinking. And now, speaking up.
Have a read:
…But if you, a customer, request a change?
Businesses will listen. Especially if there is more than one of you.
Vote with your dollar. You have more power than you think.
Ask why the business is still using incandescent bulbs when there are $1 compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs at Ace Hardware down the street. Ask why the faucet in the restroom pours water out faster than Niagra Falls when low-flow aerators cost about $5. Ask why coffee comes in styrofoam cups when paper cups are used at every Starbucks and Caribou. Ask why the air conditioning is set at 55 when the door is left hanging open. And ask if you can turn the temperature back to 70. Pay attention, and speak up. Write letters, write comments, write letters to the editor, ask to see the manager, and threaten to take your business elsewhere — somewhere that you like the way things are being run.
Tell the business you love what they do and want to continue to be a valued customer. And then proceed to be a pain in the ass. I don’t like to do it, either. But trust me. It works. Business decision makers remember you, and roll their eyes, and eventually change their minds. Because any business that doesn’t serve a customer or a need isn’t going to survive.
When you find a business that does it right, tell every other business you visit about it. Name names. Shame your favorite business into action.
Because we are Americans. We are ego-driven. And we don’t like to be told what to do by anyone without a dollar bill.
#3. Noticed Greenwashing. I’ve learned (and really, it sucks it took me so long to realize it), that there’s a difference between greenwashing, making a “green choice,” and “being green.”
– Greenwashing, which according to greenwashingindex.com, is, “when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.” And it’s EVERYWHERE. Read on:
…A classic example might be an energy company that runs an advertising campaign touting a “green” technology they’re working on — but that “green” technology represents only a sliver of the company’s otherwise not-so-green business, or may be marketed on the heels of an oil spill or plant explosion.
Or a hotel chain that calls itself “green” because it allows guests to choose to sleep on the same sheets and reuse towels, but actually does very little to save water and energy where it counts — on its grounds, with its appliances and lighting, in its kitchens and with its vehicle fleet.
Or a bank that’s suddenly “green” because you can conduct your finances online, or a grocery store that’s “green” because they’ll take back your plastic grocery bags, or …
You get the picture.
– “Making a green choice” might mean choosing the organic cotton or bananas or “now less packaging” lotion, when really you could have gone without these things in the first place (refrain from buying the shirt, choose a more seasonal fruit, made homemade lotion!). Don’t get me wrong, green choices are generally good ones, but I would challenge you (as I have just learned, but kind of by accident) to consider whether there’s a greener one…
– “Being green” might mean finding a recipe for my own household cleaner, cooking my own food, carrying a container and fork and cup so I don’t have to accept all those throw-aways (even if it is paper, not Styrofoam). In this context, being green kinda means being cheap. And we could all use some of that. (Especially me.)
So, here’s to less stuff and saving the money for something that won’t be thrown away in 5 minutes, or 5 uses.