The Art of Reducing Your Consumption | Zero Waste Series #2

Picture of Lea Plörer
Aspect of reducing consumption as 2nd step in the pyramid of the 5 Rs of Zero Waste

In this series of articles we delve into the 5 R’s of Zero Waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle. Each day we’ll tackle a different R, sharing practical tips and inspiration to reduce your environmental footprint and create a more sustainable future. In part two of the Zero Waste series leading up to International Day of Zero Waste we’re tackling the art of reducing our consumption.


What Are the Benefits of Less Consumption?

Unlike many believe, Zero Waste is not about never consuming anything new ever again. It’s more about to minimize the things you acquire and bring into your life and to be more intentional about the purchases you make.

By choosing not to buy, you lessen the demand for raw materials needed for production, which helps preserve natural resources. Reduced consumption translates to less energy consumption and transportation required, as well as minimizing waste at all stages of the product lifecycle.

On a personal level, buying less (especially non-essential items) frees up significant amounts of money that can be saved or allocated towards other priorities. In order to refuse items, you are encouraged to assess your needs and make conscious choices about what is important enough for you to bring a new item into your life and consuming only what is necessary or aligns with your values. In return, owning fewer possessions minimizes clutter, reduces maintenance needs and frees up mental space. Decluttering your physical space is the next step in this journey, and it can unlock surprising benefits that extend beyond just a tidy home.


Tips for Decluttering

A great way to reset your consumption patterns is to declutter your belongings or make a regular routine of decluttering your wardrobe and other belongings. It can show you what items you aren’t using regularly, we realize what we actually own. When we own less, we tend to take better care of the remaining items, think twice before bringing a new purchase into our lives.

1. Don’t do it all at once

Make a game-plan what areas of your life you want to declutter and in what priority these should be tackled. Then go on tackling them one step after another. Possible categories to look into: books, digital clutter, home supplies, clothes, memoria…


2. Don’t keep things out of obligation

Never keep items, simply because you feel obliged that you should. Sometimes we are given gifts by people we really love, but the gift just isn’t for us. Not everything your grandma has ever passed onto you has to have a sentimental value. Of course, the things that are really important to you, have a sentimental value or bring back special memories should always be kept. And if you don’t like to see them on a regular basis, the memory-box might be exactly for you.


3. Make place for memories

Decluttering all too often seems like this rigid task, where you have to get rid off everything that isn’t 100% useful. By not allowing yourself exceptions, decluttering becomes this dreadful task. Keep a box or place for memories and nostalgic items – your hoody from college, the tricot of your favorite sport’s team, the ugly shirt from the bachelor’s party of your best friend…


4. Allow for special occasions

Similarly to the box of memories, keep a box of special occasion items, that you need regularly but not often enough to keep in your proximity. This can include dresses to attend to weddings, ski gear, carnival costumes… These are items that could also easily be rented out (or items you can lend out to friends) but if you already have them at home, you might as well keep them and take proper care of them until they break. At that point you can still consciously decide whether you want to replace them or not.


5. One in – One out

Practicing the simple idea of “Bring one new item into your life, let go of one item” is a great way to ensure that you are not accumulating lots of clutter and a great practice once you’ve already taken the initial step of decluttering your already-existing belongings.


6. Should I keep this?

There are many mantras you can follow when decluttering your space, some of the most famous ones are “Is this the best, the favorite or the most-useful?” if it doesn’t fall into any of these categories, it would be deposited. This mantra, however, doesn’t really allow for belongings with sentimental value. Following Mary Condo the question “Does it spark joy?” has become the global mantra of decluttering. Another question that can help you assess what to keep and what to ditch is the question “Would you contact an ex-partner to get this item back?” If the answers to these questions is “No”, then you should probably just let it go.


7. The “Maybe-Pile”

Put things that you are unsure about in a separate place. Give yourself a deadline, if you haven’t reached for an item in this box until then deadline comes around, everything that remains in the box can go.


8. The sunk-cost fallacy

Oftentimes we keep things, because we’ve already spent money on it and it seems like a waste of money to now give it away. Unfortunately, that’s not how money-spending works. The money is already spent, no matter whether you use it or not. The only difference is, that now it also clutters your physical and mental space. Trading the item for another or reselling it is a better way actually to get a financial benefit out of it.


9. Why would you like it now?

Remember that 99% of the time, you won’t suddenly start liking something that you have never even remotely liked before. Let go of things that maybe you bought because it was a trend or you wanted to fit in or a specific persona you wanted to be at some point, and embrace the items that make you uniquely you.


10. Put it into perspective

Decluttering can often feel like giving a part of yourself away. Remind yourself, what you can gain by letting go of certain things and visualize how much joy this could bring to a person that just doesn’t consider this item ‘fine’ but what actually love it and get proper usage out of it.


How to reduce my consumption

When reducing your consumption, decluttering what you already own is only one aspect. Now the question occurs, how to assess what new items to bring into your life. Here are 4 easy tips to help you reduce your consumption in the long-run.

  1. Create a wishlist for your next purchases
  2. Rent or borrow items instead of buying new
  3. Choose durable products that need less replacing
  4. Avoid impulse purchases – don’t make purchases without at least sleeping a few nights over it

Responsible consumption extends beyond refusing new purchases. We from Faircado want to make sure, that everything new you bring into your life, is as sustainable as possible. That’s why we came up with a browser extension that looks for second-hand alternatives while you’re looking for products online. That way, you can instantly discover pre-loved alternatives without all the hastle. It’s a seamless way to make more conscious choices, save money, and reduce your environmental impact.

Want to check out our other articles around the 5 R’s of zero waste? Learn more about how to Refuse, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle.