Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lifestyles: Post-consumer

In an attempt to limit my personal environmental impact I have made some changes to the way I live over the years. Now somethings are pretty obvious; walking to work, avoiding disposable items like coffee cups, adjusting driving habits, are pretty obvious. Some adjustments require a bit more sacrifice or diligence than others and may never be adopted by everyone. For me it is worth it. This is not to say I have a  perfect record on these changes, just that I strive.

Post consumer lifestyle is one of my favorites. It is about more than just going to goodwill for pants and shirts, it is about becoming more informed as a consumer in general. I seek out post consumer options first for as many of my needs as I can. There are some obvious exemptions, like food, that fall into consumable goods and cannot be met in most cases by post consumer options. But I still consider the environmental of packaging or transportation (do i really need an out of season kiwi fruit that had to travel all the way from the southern hemisphere for example). 

The second exemption is durable goods. I walk a lot, I need good shoes, there is a post consumer option for shoes and I do own several pairs of second hand shoes. I have also purchased new pairs of shoes in the past. Generally when I purchase new items I look at how long will they last, If they are of a quality that most likely off set the energy expended in the manufacturing process and transportation required to retail them, I keep looking. I can imagine someone asking "how the crap do you know how much when into making them?" The short answer is, I don't. But I make educated guesses. If something is manufactured in china its transportation threshold is higher than something made in texas. If something is made with natural materials then it might have been produced in a less chemically intensive process than non-naturally occurring materials. 

A little bit of research goes a long way. Look up some of the companies that produce the products you consume most often. If everyone managed to decrease their personal impact by 1%, it would add up too huge positive change nation wide. 

The benefits of adding a little more time and thought to what and how you consume might surprise you in the long run. They don't call them "thrift stores" for nothing. Think about all the stuff you have wasted money on over the years that you didn't even use to it fullest potential, or it broke shortly after you got it, or you didn't even need it and it became more junk cluttered about your personal space. All of this could have been avoided with a little more mindful consuming. 

Don't forsake good for perfection! Even just making one little thing apart of your daily routine is enough, like buying a good quality reusable coffee cup. Keep trying. 

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