As another consumer season comes to an end, I feel it only fitting that the January Waste Less Challenge be to not buy anything. That's right, you heard me. Nothing. If that scares the you-know-what out of you, you aren't alone. I've been mentally preparing (aka freaking out) by wondering if I have enough socks and underwear. I haven't actually bought into my freak out, but at least they've been practical items. As long as you've been nice all year, there shouldn't be much that you need to start the New Year.
But let's get serious. The fact is that in the US, waste increases 25% between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency that is an extra 1 million ton of waste generated during the holiday season alone.
I came across a quote by Pope John Paul II that states, "Modern Society will find no solution to the ecological problems unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyles." The January Waste Less Challenge isn't just about not buying anything for one month, but taking a good look at our lifestyles and seeing how we can change to be more environmentally friendly. Start the New Year by keeping the amount of waste you create low, and see how we can work to reduce our waste all year long. Download the Waste Less Challenge calendar here.
Don't buy anything.
Okay, we need to eat, and I know I cannot possibly grow all of my food. The exception I am giving myself is I can purchase unpackaged food. This will include fruits and veggies, dried goods from the bulk bin and any other food I can purchase while bringing my own containers.
Remember these guidelines are there to help you. Feel free to move and stretch them as much as you need to for you to be successful in your Waste Less Challenge.
Reflect on your wants and needs: Each time you find yourself wanting something think about why. How will it impact your life? Will it contribute to your happiness? How does it bring kindness into your life? Maybe you will wait until February to make the purchase, or you'll make it at that moment. By giving yourself the time to think about each item you purchase gives you consumer awareness to what you bring into your life.
Experiences over things: My sister's birthday falls at the beginning of January. I could have bought her a gift in December, but lucky for me she asked for an experience over something material. Delivering an experience can be just as, or even more thoughtful than a wrapped gift. It is also a way of giving that person a little of you.
If you receive discounts and promotions via email, re-direct them to a folder so you aren't tempted in your daily inbox.
Do you have a shopping habit like stopping by the mall after a bad day, or browsing the racks of you favorite store during lunch? Focus on you instead by taking a walk or reading a book.
When all else fails, create a virtual shopping experience. Make a vision board or two, but remember to consider the needs and wants.
The goal of the consumer cleanse isn't only to be happier with less, but to add less material things in the world. In the long run you will save money for the purchases that do matter, you won't be contributing to the cycle of stuff as explained by The Story of Stuff Project and there will be less waste by avoiding packaging. So let's reevaluate our lifestyles and see what we can pass on.
Be sure to share your story in the comments and by social media with #wastelesschallenge