Reducing your waste is not just about being a tree hugging hippie who takes drastic measures in life to impact the environment. There are a lot of benefits that come from reducing waste that make the effort totally worth it. If you practice a low-waste lifestyle, you might start to feel that the environmental impact is just an added bonus to a lifestyle that benefits you in huge ways.
1. It’s good for the environment
Let’s just get the obvious one out of the way first. The entire system of waste creation and removal is doing a damaging number on our environment. Read my post called The problem with landfills to read more about why our current system of dealing with trash is so bad for the environment.
Waste reduction can help prevent pollution of our air and water, prevent the depletion of natural resources, and conserve landfill space.
Basically, waste reduction helps every aspect of our environment. It makes our waters less toxic for the animals that live there, it makes the air less polluted, and it saves wilderness from being torn down for landfill space and natural resources.
2. You will save a ton of money
Almost every waste prevention practice saves you money, either now or in the long run. It is a much more affordable way to live, which is why everyone who is concerned with saving money should try at least a few waste reduction practices. The ways that a l0w-waste focused lifestyle saves you money can be broken down into 3 basic principles:
Buying reusable means buying less over time. You might look at the cost of, say, reusable microfiber towels, and compare it to a roll of paper towels, and think, err…this is more expensive, I’m gonna stick to my regular paper towels. Looking at the price of reusable items and comparing it to the price of disposable items might make you think that a low-waste lifestyle is too expensive and you can’t afford it. But keep in mind, you’re comparing a one-time purchase to a recurring one. When you looked at the price of the microfiber towels did you think about never buying another paper towel ever again? It’s a better financial decisions to spend a little more money upfront in order to save a lot of money later.
Imagine never buying wrapping paper, cards, paper towels, dryer sheets, diapers, straws, Ziploc bags, cotton balls, napkins, water bottles, razor heads, sponges, and so much more. All of these items have reusable alternatives that are featured in the WasteLessThinking shop. Buying these items becomes so worth it when you realize how much cheaper shopping trips become.
Buying in bulk is cheaper per ounce. One of the major concepts for living a less-wasteful lifestyle is buying as much stuff in bulk as you can, like cleaners, dry foods, beauty products, etc. Buying in bulk is another one that might appear more expensive, but when you break down how much you are paying per ounce, you are actually saving a lot. If you’re buying things that you know you are going to use all of it’s much more economical to buy in bulk.
Buying less means spending less. Another major principle of low-waste lifestyles is to simply buy less stuff. Having things means having to decide what to do with it once you no longer need it. The easiest way to stay true to a low-waste life is to cut down on purchases, which obviously saves money.
3. It will make you feel happier
Waste reduction might not be the first idea that pops into your head when you think of things that can make you happier, but science shows that waste reduction actually increases happiness. There are two major reasons why waste reduction makes you happier:
Life purpose increases your happiness. Data shows that people who do important things in life, like caring for the environment, report higher levels of happiness and well-being than people who do not. It’s simple… being part of something important makes you feel good. Knowing that your lifestyle is bettering the planet for everyone who is here and will be here gives you a sense of fulfillment. One study showed that a behavior as small as recycling can significantly increase your happiness.
Decreased clutter increases happiness. Again, a major component of a low-waste lifestyle is decreasing how much you buy, thus, how much you own. Having less stuff may seem like something that would make you less happy, but science says that having more stuff creates more clutter and decreases your happiness, while having less stuff leads to organization and increased happiness. Simplifying things like your closet, fridge, or pantry can benefit you just as much as it benefits the environment.
4. It will improve your health
The concepts of a low-wasteful lifestyle can lead to increased health in several different ways.
Increased happiness increases health. Since we just discussed the benefits to your happiness that waste reduction practices have, I will point out that increased happiness is also very good for your health. People who are happier are generally healthier and live much longer than less happy people.
Eating out less is better for your health. A major rule of a low-waste lifestyle is dining out as infrequently as possible. You can read my post on restaurant waste if you want to know more, but to sum it up, it’s hard to control your waste in restaurants. The only environment where you can truly control waste is your own home, and cooking for yourself at home is far better for your health than dining out.
Less plastic in your life means less chemicals to harm your health. A low-waste lifestyle goes hand in hand with a low-plastic lifestyle. Plastic products are generally single use, or at the least are not very durable and therefore do not last as long as products need to for a low-waste lifestyle. Cutting down the amount of plastic in your life cuts down on the amount of harmful chemicals that your body is exposed to on a regular basis, which will improve your health in the long run.
A healthier environment is healthier for you. Your efforts in reducing waste will lead to a greener community, which is better for you. It gives you cleaner air to breath, less toxic water to drink, and healthier food to eat.
So wether you’re thinking about starting a low-waste lifestyle or you’re already doing it, keep in mind that it’s just as good for you as it is for the environment.