Imagine if everyone lived minimally… By minimally, I mean if people didn’t buy more food, cosmetics, décor, etc.… than they actually needed. After taking this class, I find myself wondering about that question a lot. I find myself stopping before buying things I don’t need. I now look at goods and consider the packaging that I will be throwing away and the money I could save. Since taking this class, I’ve found myself saving money, time, and space in my cabinets by not buying useless things! I hope to continue this by making a budget, and carefully thinking through my purchases. This month, I actually saved enough money by shopping at Aldi’s, which is more sustainable than Walmart because you must bring your own bags or buy their recyclable bags when shopping. A lot of their products have minimal packaging which is also more sustainable. I hope that someday, Stillwater will have even more sustainable shopping options!
As I continue my sustainability journey, I hope to find more ways to improve my habits to help the environment. Other ways I am more sustainable, is by repurposing used furniture, drinking coffee at home (vs. buying at a coffee shop and drinking out of a plastic cup), sorting my trash to recycle, and using old containers for new things. Through these habits, I hope to create positive change in my circle of influence. One way I have done this is by only drinking coffee made at home. Since I have been making cold coffee in mason jars, my roommates have started to do the same things. They now make coffee at home and take to class in a reusable cup, rather than purchasing coffee in a plastic cup in town. I hope that with my new perspective on sustainability, I am able to encourage my friends and family around me to create more sustainable habits also. I love that sustainability encourages me to think outside of the box, in order to use old items for new things. Another way I hope to encourage my circle of people to become more aware of sustainability, is to use all of my product before buying new. I have started using all of my shampoo, conditioner, cosmetics, and food before purchasing any more. This has encouraged me to come up with creative recipes to use the random leftover food items left in my pantry and fridge. I have things such as ramen noodle stir fry, unique pasta dishes, vegetable soups, and several others! I also hope to influence my family when I go home too. My family throws away a lot of plastic trash from food products, and plastic plates and silverware. My mom cooks for a lot of people every day, so it is much easier to buy plastic plates and silver rather than washing so many dishes. Habits like this are hard to change in daily life, but they greatly affect the environment. I think that my family could change a few small habits in order to make a big difference in the amount of trash they produce each week.
I didn’t realize how many small, daily habits I have that produce plastic waste until recently. Everything store bought is wrapped in plastic, and sometimes even additional packaging outside of that. It is almost impossible to avoid this completely without living an entirely different life. The most helpful habits I have found to reduce waste, is using regular plates, silverware, and cups rather than a throw away option, even though that is more convenient. Luckily, this saves me money, and time at the store which is a bonus. Another small thing I have found that is more sustainable (although it doesn’t make a huge difference) is walking or riding my bike, rather than driving to class. This helps me not only save money on gas, but also emit a little less fumes into the environment from driving my truck.
Another small way I can encourage my family to not only save money, but produce less waste is by planting a garden. Produce is extremely expensive right now, and by growing vegetables at home we can eliminate plastic packaging waste that comes with store bought foods. Another small habit I would like to change, is buying cosmetics from a more sustainable company, in addition to buying it only when needed. There are makeup and cosmetics companies that are focused on producing recyclable packaging and shipping items. I hope to encourage my two sisters and mom to do the same thing.
Oddly enough, making a budget for myself has been the most helpful tool in helping me become more sustainable. By making a monthly and weekly budget, I limit my purchasing on a regular basis. I have started setting a monthly food, cosmetics, and basic living budget. This encourages me to use up all of my products before purchasing in order to stay on budget. Many of my family members also budget this way, which is very helpful as far as sustainability goes. I also plan on donating my clothes rather than throwing them away next time I clean out my closet. I also hope to encourage my sisters and mom to do this next time they clean out their closets. At some point, I hope to change all of my purchasing to purchasing from sustainable companies, who use sustainable packaging.
This class has also encouraged me to become less focused on being a consumer. It is very easy to constantly think about items you would like to purchase because of constant advertising. In our current world, we are constantly bombarded by product advertising, which makes it very difficult to stay away from purchasing new items on a regular basis. I try to make the most out of what I already have, by making creative outfits, hairstyles, and foods with what I already own. While writing this paper, my roommates were discussing their purchasing habits, and talking about how materialistic our generation is. They were talking about our generation becoming obsessed with purses, shoes, luggage, etc., because we are constantly surrounded by it and therefore thinking about it. I love clothes, shoes, and products, but it is also really fun to be creative with what I have. It is also really fun to shop at places like goodwill, and other second hand stores rather than buying new items off the shelf.
Overall, I have changed several small habits, and hopefully my habits will influence those around me. I hope to continue to work towards changing more, bigger habits that are more difficult to change. I love how this journey has encouraged me to be more creative and innovative. I also love how it has encouraged me to save money, which allows me to save my money to spend on experiences rather than items. Overtime, I hope to create more of these habits that I can carry on for years, and influence others along the way.