Let's Talk Trash: Buy less, smile more

Our consumptive habits have ventured underground. Gone are the days when we either made or knew the maker of all the items in our home.

Life in the village was more quaint, slower, and much more in harmony with the natural cycle of the planet. We harvested from nature, and felt the impact of any form of waste, as our “landfill” was our backyard. Now, at the click of a button, we can have almost anything we can imagine within days, or weeks here on the upper Sunshine Coast.

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In the blur of our modern pace of life, even here in our paradisiacal town, we can trend toward wasteful habits. Sometimes we cover them up with a little personal greenwashing, telling ourselves our new purchase is eco-friendly, biodegradable or natural. We may even truly believe this to our core.

The reality, however, is that we love up the planet the most when we leave its resources alone.

Reduce, reuse, recycle: we’ve heard it said, ad nauseam. So much so we may have forgotten the gateway to conscious consumerism is to avoid consuming in the first place. Minimalists such as Marie Kondo, Mahatma Gandhi and Joshua Millburn all bought into this concept of not buying much at all. The less you own, they would argue, the less there is that owns you. A lighter impact on the earth seems to come with more time for the people and hobbies that most fulfill our deepest longings.

Next time the urge to buy creeps up, opt for these alternatives first:

1. Go for virtual, rather than actual goods. Books can be downloaded through free library apps such as Libby, and music and movie sites are easily found online.

2. Fix instead of replacing. Chances are if you don’t know how to fix it, someone you know does. Ask around, and if you are tech savvy, google a fix-it video. You might be surprised that your repaired vintage item works better than a cheap new one.

3. Borrow. Often we just need a tool or outfit as a one-off thing.  Use social media and word of mouth to spread the word that you’re on the hunt to borrow. Thank the angel who lends with a beer, a hug, some apples or a loaned book. These token exchanges are the fabric of a healthy community.

4. Rent. When no one you know has what you’re looking for, there may be a rental company that does, and often the quality is industrial, so it can stand up to more wear and tear.

5. Tap into the sharing economy through free platforms such as tool lending libraries, car sharing groups, couch surfing networks, home exchange forums and group purchasing of bulk food items.

6. When you absolutely must bring something into your life for keeps, shop used rather than new. Gently used and unique items abound in thrift and vintage shops that are popping up everywhere.

7. If buying new, go for quality items that will last. Favour ones that can be easily repaired with accessible replacement parts.

Conscious consumers know that reduction is where the planetary smiles are found.

Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste-reduction education program.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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