When we buy stuff – clothes, tech, white goods, furniture, toys –  we are already in the habit of asking questions and making choices. Do I want this? Do I need this? What is the cost and am I prepared to pay it?  To live greener we need to shift the empahasis and broaden the idea of cost.

Since all consumption uses resources and energy, the first question has to be, “Do I really need this?” or maybe, “Do I really need this?”.  I went on a diet a while ago and started counting calories for the first time in my life.  With a fixed calory intake each day I soon started asking myself, is this cake worth the calories?  (The usual answer was that cakes were not worth the calories, but beer was.)  Anyway, when it comes to stuff I think that “Is it worth the carbon?” is a useful question.

We also know from research and probably from personal experience that having does not necesarily lead to happiness, and that the happiness that comes from buying new stuff can be disappointingly short lived. So it’s quite possible that living greener will lead us to more sustainable and sustaining sources of happiness… which is a win/win. We’re developing ideas about how to build a low carbon foundation for a happy life on the Play page.

And, when we think of the cost of something, we need to include the environmental and human cost – what will be the effect of buying this on the environment? And what will be the effect of this on the well-being of the people who produced it? Often not easy questions to answer, so we’ll look at them in more detail and in specific cases on the blog. 

Overall, when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of our stuff the principles to apply seem to be:

  • quality stuff lasts longer. Buy that.
  • care for it well.
  • share where possible.
  • repair rather than replace.
  • re-use and repurpose where possible.
  • recycle at the end of their useful life.

Of course so many consumer goods are not designed with those things in mind.. maybe even the opposite.

Plenty to discuss here. Let us know your stuff reduction tips!

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