How to Calm the Need for Stuff When Going Zero Waste

The modern American culture in no way encourages minimalism, patience and restraint. Rather, we’ve been conditioned to use wealth and access to get more, more, more, wherever it’s made and whatever the cost to the planet and our health.

This addiction to consumption has led us to a place in which we require garages, attics and storage units to keep our things, are practically drowning in plastics, and have very little understanding of how our shopping habits affect the rest of the globe.

People who’ve committed to going zero waste have to force themselves to break these patterns, practicing self control in an effort to reduce the hold that “stuff” has on our lives. For many of us, this involves shopping locally and in season to help limit excessive consumption, and committing to only purchasing products that will not end up in the landfill at the end of their lives.

These two actions alone help a great deal. It’s pretty hard to shop online when you won’t let plastic bags into your house. And setting strict criteria for what you purchase and why (for example, a bamboo toothbrush over a plastic one) means you’re a lot less likely to grab up products willy nilly.

But what about shopping for fun? How do you confront that addiction to “stuff” that we talked about earlier? It’s not easy. But it’s worth it. Here are a few ways to soften the blow.

Take a real break from shopping

Set a clear intention to do no unnecessary shopping for an entire month. This means anything beyond necessities like groceries or a much-needed winter coat are off limits.

Whenever you get the urge to go shopping for the fun of it, take a breath and examine your intentions. Why do you want this right now? Is it because you like the “high” that comes with something new and shiny? Is it because you’re struggling with envy or comparison? Start here.

Purge the clutter around you

Once you have established a clear head around shopping and its role in our lives, you might want to take the time to declutter a bit. Random additions to your stash will look silly and stand out if your home is clean and clutter free.

Start with the places you haven’t touched in ages. I’m talking about the craft closet, that one corner in your garage, boxes under the bed. Think about what you see. Have you used this item in the past couple of months? The past year? If not, decide whether it’s a true keepsake or something you’re holding onto for convenience’s sake.

Identify something meaningful to shop for

Still feel like you need a refresh? There’s no harm in adding a new jacket or piece of art to your space, as long as it’s done intentionally and with care. Select something that you’ve wanted for a while, then commit to purchasing nothing until you find the exact perfect thing.

Maybe it’s a new armchair for the living room. Maybe it’s a dutch oven. Maybe it’s a gardening tool or a computer or a painting for your office. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you’ll use or enjoy for a long time. Then, save up and make it happen.

Fill up with experiences, not things

I might sound like a broken record, but this is so true: memories are so much more precious than things. Rather than filling your heart and space with stuff, look for cool experiences that are worth your money instead.

Sign up for a rock climbing class, book space in a recording studio, take a friend to a concert, save up for that big vacation you’ve wanted to take for years. You’ll feel so much better after a long weekend in the mountains than you would after a spree at Target.

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32 comments

Caitlin L
Caitlin Labout an hour ago

thanks for this

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Past Member
Past Member 2 days ago

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O4 days ago

tell others what you want as gifts so you don't get things you would never use or already own.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O4 days ago

read your books, see if you can donate some

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O4 days ago

th

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Sherry K
Sherry K5 days ago

Many thanks to you !

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Danuta W
Danuta W5 days ago

Thanks for posting

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson5 days ago

Thank you.

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Angeles Madrazo
Angeles M5 days ago

Thank you

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Anne M
Anne Moran5 days ago

Enough of stuff already !! - How many pairs of shoes do you really need ?? - Or bags, purses, dresses, slacks, jackets, bangles, jewelry, etc. - Go on vacation,, you'll have much more fun there, than trying to impress others, who couldn't care less, anyway...

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