By Faye Griffiths Smith – Extension Educator Family Economics and Resource Management
Making decisions about how we live our lives can be challenging. With so many products and options to choose from making the best choices for our families is often a complex task. With the internet, there is often so much information available at our fingertips it can be more difficult to reach a conclusion. For example, consider the last time you replaced a major appliance – were you surprised by the number of possibilities and features to choose from? Did more options and features make it easier or harder to decide?
Sustainable Decisions…Where Do You Start?
Living sustainably often means reviewing our long held habits and consciously finding ways to meet our needs and satisfy some of our wants in ways that are better for us and our world – both now and in the future.
How to get started
Like many families, you may be trying to keep expenses down. Is trying to live more sustainably going to cost you more time, energy and money? Can some sustainable living practices help you save money? Some of the most basic sustainable living operating principles can be found in this saying popular during the Great Depression: “Use If you and your family want to live more sustainably, where do you begin? First, think about sustainable living…what areas of common interest does everyone in the family or the household share?
- Are you interested in making changes to lower the amount of waste your household produces?
- Paper or plastic? Do you want to limit your use of non-renewable resources?
- Do you simply want to buy more food grown locally?
- It will be easier to make changes in areas your family agrees are important and they want to achieve together.
- Is living more sustainably more expensive?
Like many families, you may be trying to keep expenses down. Is trying to live more sustainably going to cost you more time, energy and money? Can some sustainable living practices help you save money? Some of the most basic sustainable living operating principles can be found in this saying popular during the Great Depression: “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without.” Our landfills could give testimony to how much we throw away in our society.Advertising encourages us to buy newer products with more features. People often throw out items that still are usable rather than try to give them away or resell them. Though it may take more time and effort, repairing items can often be cost effective and reduce waste. Fashions can go out of style long before clothing wears out. Picking less trendy styles may be one way to get more use from your clothes. It has also become popular once again to refashion older clothing into new garments, home décor and crafts.
- Needs versus Wants
Families interested in keeping costs down often ask themselves the question “Is it a need or a want?” before making purchase decisions.
That is also a great question for those of us who want to live more sustainably. Though it is tempting to rush out and buy products with the latest technological advances, in most cases, we can probably manage without the most recent innovations for a while. Also, electronics and technological products tend to go down in price significantly after the first few months. Think of the variety of small kitchen appliances and products that have been developed in recent years that are limited in what they can do – quesadilla maker, juicer, sandwich maker and rice cooker. Unless you use these products frequently, you may find that they take up unnecessary space in your kitchen.