52 Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint – 12. Waste Not ~ Want Not

My bet is that you are rich. I mean financially rich, just like me, just like all of us.

How do I know this?

Just like me, you are probably reading this on your phone or the computer. Just by being able to afford these automatically qualifies you as rich. We all have money available, not only for the things we need but also for things we want.

Not convinced? Here are some facts about what being poor really means.

  • More than 3 billion people live on less than $3 per day
  • Almost a billion people in the world do not eat enough calories everyday to meet minimum health requirements.
  • 750 million people do not even have access to clean drinking water.

I was born in a rich Western Country and still live in a developed Country. I eat well every day, I have unlimited amounts of clean water available from my tap and I certainly have more than $3 to spend.

Why is it then that I don’t realise how fortunate I am?

Maybe it is just because the real poor are so well hidden that they become easy to forget. Most of the time they live in another Country, sometimes they just live in another town but I cannot see them so what do I care. So if it’s this easy to forget about the poor maybe this explains why I seem to forget how lucky I really am.

So now, every day, I try and think about these people less fortunate than me. I try and visualise friends or relatives who may be ill, or families torn apart due to war or violent crimes and environmental disasters. I try to visualise this so that I can remember just how lucky I am. If I manage to realise how fortunate I am, then it makes it much easier to be less selfish.

Quite often though, my thoughts turn back to my struggles. My back hurts, I haven’t got enough money, why am I not as cool as George Clooney! That’s when I start to feel sorry for myself, thats when I start to become selfish again.

As most of you know by now, for the last couple of years I have been trying to raise awareness of waste in society. Trying to point out how detrimental it can be for everyone, especially our environment. Once you start to notice how much waste there is in the world it can be a little disheartening. I know I will never win the war but I wondered if perhaps there was a better way for me to rationalise the situation. A way which will continue helping me minimise my waste but also help make me happy and more generous.

That’s when I had a thought, if I can generate waste, it is only because I can afford to!

I can afford to buy clothes I don’t really need. I can afford to buy food I may not eat and I can afford to use plastic bags I will only use once. I can afford to try things out and not worry too much if they are not for me and I can afford to drive somewhere and leave the car parked all day, without using it. These things and more I can afford to do every day. These are the privileges of a rich person. I am a rich person. Every time I waste something I now realise how rich and fortunate I am.

But what if I didn’t waste all these things? What if, instead of generating waste, I thought for a second or two about those less fortunate than I. Instead of buying the shirt I didn’t need, or too much food because it looked so nice, what if just didn’t buy it?

Would my habits change? Would I buy less? I quickly realised that there are really only 2 outcomes from thinking this way.

First, if I decide to buy something, I know it is either because I really, really wanted it, or genuinely needed it. Now, I realise just how fortunate am I to be able to buy this thing. I will cherish this item more than I would have previously.

Second, if I choose not to buy it, it is because I have realised that I didn’t really need it. Now I have saved myself money and helped reduce my impact on the environment. With the money I didn’t spend I can afford to save it or chose to donate it for a good cause.

Whichever way I look at things I am happier about who I am. This is a win-win situation for me.At Christmas, traditionally a time of excess, I think it is a wonderful opportunity to think about how lucky we really are and how much of a difference we can make, just by choosing not to buy something.

There was a great picture from 1 million women this week, I have included it below. I thought it was kind of nice.

Merry Christmas!

one brown plant, 1 million women



There are so many ways in which we can help reduce our environmental footprint but with so much going on it is hard sometimes to remember. Rather than remember, the best way is to form a habit and the best way to form a habit is by utilising the 3 R’s:

  1. Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
  2. Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
  3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)

Each week, for 52 weeks, we will post a new idea to help you reduce your waste and work towards a cleaner less polluted lifestyle. Hopefully, by the end, some of the idea’s will become habitual and stick with you forever. Consider this to be your gift to the world.

#reducewaste #environmentalfootprint #onebrownplanet