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reduce repair reuse recycle repeat

There’s a certain life cycle of owning items - from the thought of buying something, to picking out the exact item, to owning and caring for it, and getting rid of it once you’re done with it. There are ways to be thoughtful about each step, that way you can try to live a more mindful, sustainable life through the purchases you make.

Obviously not many of us can have the “perfect” buying habits - these are just markers to think about and potentially some things you might not have thought of before. If you find yourself buying a lot of items, or if you’re looking to be more thoughtful about how you’re buying, definitely keep these in mind.

the process of owning

only buy what you need

learn why more possessions isn’t always better
Physical items can be expensive, require maintenance & cleaning, take up lots of space, and drain our mental reserves. As well, the impact of wanton consumption has a huge effect on our planet & the people on it
find other things to do besides going shopping
If you’ve made a hobby out of shopping, or just find it a fun thing to do when there’s nothing else to do, try switching up your mindset. There are so many other things to do than spend money, whether by yourself or with a partner.
set up systems to make cooking & cleaning easier
To reduce food waste, try meal planning, meal prepping, organizing your kitchen, or optimizing your grocery store trip. Learning how to cook & having fun with it also reduces your grocery & takeout spending.
consider alternatives
Instead of buying lots of books and movies, or even getting another streaming service, get yourself a library card for all of it, sometimes even including audiobooks. You can even access it online, depending on where you live. Or, look into borrowing. Lots of hardware stores have tools they lend out, or ask neighbors, friends, or family for things like lawn mowers or more expensive, less used items.
wait a month
Will you still need it if you wait a month? Or even a week? Could you potentially find something better, whether in quality or price or impact?

buy thoughtfully

keep packaging to a minimum
By buying whole foods and by buying locally and seasonally you can greatly reduce the amount of packaging you use on a daily basis. You can read more about it in our latest spring issue!
consider the company & their processes
Are they local? Do they test on animals? Do they give back to charities or have community-building programs? Do they use sustainable practices? You can get some on-the-go basics on the app Good Guide, or follow bloggers like Logical Harmony to get more information on companies.
consider the ingredients & quality
How long will those jeans last? Will that food nourish you physically/mentally? Is the production of this item harming people, animals, or the planet?
buy multipurpose items
We use the most basic soap possible, so that we can use it while showering, handwashing, for cleaning counters & fixtures, and much more. We use one mesh strainer for making juices, almond milk, straining canned food & pastas, dusting powdered sugar and more. We buy canning jars to drink out of, store leftovers, store pantry items, and to (obviously) can & pickle. Think creatively to get the most use out of one item.
start with secondhand
Check local thrift shops, charity shops, Craigslist, garage sales, Facebook groups, etc. to help reuse larger items and prevent them from going in the dump. As a former thrift store worker, you would be surprised to see how many bags filled with perfectly good, new baby clothes were trashed because no one ever bought them.

keeping what you have

care for your items
Maintain your furniture, clothing, electronics, etc. regularly to lengthen their lifespans, reducing the amount you have to replace over time. This could include oiling your wooden kitchen tools, keeping your computer organized & up to date, and repairing clothing rather than tossing it out.

let things go

find a way to reuse items somewhere else
Instead of throwing old towels in the trash, we cut them up and reuse them as rags around the house. During seedling season, we save up empty toilet paper rolls to use for planting seeds. Be creative!
friends & family
See if someone you know might be able to take something off your hands - whether it’s clothing, furniture, or kitchen tools. When we moved out of our studio space, we sold a lot of what we couldn’t bring with us, but we also gifted furniture, wood pallets, and lots of kitchen stuff to friends too. It took care of what might have been trashed, and kept it all in good homes!
clothing swaps
You don’t even need a group of friends to do this (although it does make for a great party) - there is most likely a Facebook group for your city that works like a virtual clothing swap, and there are apps too!
compost if you can
We drastically cut down on our garbage bag count every week, just by composting. There are so many resources for learning how to compost - you can even get it done by services so you don’t have to do it yourself. You can read more about community composting in our latest spring issue here.
donations with impact
Look in your area for ways to make the most impact with your items. For example, we have a local group that collects used toiletries to give to people in need, so instead of tossing a bottle of shampoo that didn’t really work out, we can give to them instead. Give unwanted food & supplies to food banks. Do a little research on your local organizations so you’ll know where to take things that will be appreciated.
thrift donations
You can always give unwanted/excess items to charity shops/thrift shops. Be sure not to give damaged clothing, or other items on their do-not-donate lists, as many places will just have to throw them away, and it costs them money to do so. 
recycle to appropriate location
Learn how to properly recycle, and make sure sensitive items (like cars, electronics, and batteries) are given to the right places.
take stock of how you’re living and adjust
Do you have lots of books you haven’t read in years, and don’t plan to again? How did you end up with such a packed closet? Think about your intentions and goals and how your current situation works along with it. If you want to have a lot of free time with family & friends, maybe a huge house requiring maintenance, cleaning, and the money that comes from long hours at your job shouldn’t be the priority. Maybe you’re not so focused on fashion any longer and you want to afford to travel or help a family member out - so then perhaps the packed closet doesn’t really need to be refilled. Go through each room of your home, declutter, and go forward thoughtfully.

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