One of my favorite musical artists is Delbert McClinton and one of my favorite songs he sings is Too Much Stuff. It’s upbeat and the lyrics are great… and the song examines a lifestyle that is “consumption” oriented. Reducing my personal consumption is something I plan to do. Why? Well, for one thing, more consumption makes us less happy according to some psychologists.
But my primary reason – which is associated with what choices I can make that will be better for the planet – involves energy consumption. And I’m not talking about consumables like food or entertainment. I plan to keep eating and going to the movies. I’m talking about “stuff”. Whenever I buy something, that “something” had to be made (using some materials) and eventually transported to wherever I purchase it. Both the creation and delivery required energy. Take a shirt for example. The materials have to be grown or created, it has to be manufactured, and it has to be transported to where it will be distributed. Each of these steps requires energy. A recent study examined the environment impact of examples of clothing like t-shirts, jeans, dresses, to name a few.
And while this particular study examined the environmental footprint over the life cycle of clothing (i.e., including periodic washings and disposal) what is clear is that just about everything we use has an environment impact.
So what’s my plan? Easy, consume less and by that I mean stop buying “stuff”. I shared this idea with my daughter and she said I sounded like a “minimalist” (which I had to look up). Turns out there are many people who have adopted a minimalist lifestyle, some out of necessity (e.g., living in a smaller place) and others for environmental reasons. So this aspect of my New Years’ Resolution is to not buy any “stuff” during 2019.
More specifically, no new clothes, no new camera lens, no anything. Each purchase has to be tested against the criteria “is this consumable – e.g., food” or is it somehow “essential”. For me this will be much easier than others. I’m retired (no need for new clothes for the office) and over a lifetime I’ve accumulated lots of stuff (although I’ve been making attempts over the years to get rid of things). In fact, another related objective is to eliminate some of the stuff I now have. (More on that later.) Another tactic I can use is to rent or borrow anything I decide I really need – the energy to make that “thing” has already been expended. The bottom line: less consumption; less demand; less made; and less energy!