Small Ways People Waste BIG Money and Resources

22 08 2008

We’ve all heard that small things can add up fast. Here, in my completely subjective list, are the biggest money-and-resource wasters of our modern lives, in no particular order:

1. A daily coffee shop habit. Every time you pay $2.50 for a double skim latte (or whatever), you could be making that puppy at home. For a lot less money. And if you don’t bring along a reusable mug or cup, you’re wasting more than money. Try saving the coffee shop trips for special days and time with friends and family.

2. A weekly take-out habit. Obviously, a similar principle applies here as above: choose the DIY version more often, and you’ll be surprised how little you miss spending the extra cash. Still don’t want to cook? That’s okay–store-bought convenience foods, if chosen wisely, can still be fast, yet cheaper and with less packaging.

3. Idling a vehicle. My husband and I never cease to be amazed at the ways people waste gas and hard-earned money by idling cars: in the drive-through lane; at notoriously long traffic lights; while waiting for their spouse to deposit checks/buy the milk–you get the idea. It doesn’t hurt your car to turn it off, and it pays in the long run. Try it; you just might like it.

4. Throwing things away unnecessarily. When I was in elementary school, someone told me that you need to get new things for school each year, regardless of how well the old things are holding up.
I see this attitude in the trash piles of neighbors–perfectly good items cast off for the new. In college, my friends and I watched as other students placed year-old appliances and furniture into dumpsters to make moving easier. Clearly, the scrimp and save mentality is no longer in vogue, but it’s not dead if we don’t want it to be.

5. Buying what you won’t want later. Avoid guilt and waste with a little forethought. Will that slushy maker pay for itself? Do you need the 10-oz steak? Will one doughnut suffice? You can also try the time-honored trick: If you go away from the item and still pine for it a month later, it might be a good investment. Of course, it’s still a good idea to think about any impact on the earth before you buy.

6. Fearing public opinion. And by public, I mean your parents, your best friend, those neighbors your don’t even like . . . most of the time we overestimate in our minds how much people will actually notice about our lives and choices, anyway. But even if people take notice when you start bringing your own coffee or buying less stuff, the important thing remains: how you feel about these choices.

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4 responses

22 08 2008
Obi-Mom Kenobi

Good list you’ve made there, especially #6. But don’t forget about buying bottled water when there is plenty of safe, free water coming straight out of the tap.

23 08 2008
Mister Moone

…I echo Obi-Mom’s comment on tap water (I Love our tap water); re:

“And by public, I mean your parents, your best friend, those neighbors your don’t even like . . . most of the time we overestimate in our minds how much people will actually notice about our lives and choices, anyway. But even if people take notice when you start bringing your own coffee or buying less stuff, the important thing remains: how you feel about these choices.”

I agree! I cannot always do all of the things you mentioned, Colleen, but I do many of them a lot of the time – I think we all need to think more about what we choose to buy (and need) and maybe this is “green-mindful-living?”
Pax…

24 08 2008
pacres

Great tips so far. Keep them coming. There are hundreds of ways we can all save money and time while reducing out impact.

9 09 2008
Green Cleaning for Way Less (of Everything) « The Greening Tree

[…] 9 09 2008 First of all, a shout-out goes to Ecollo for linking to my post on small habits with big consequences. It’s my first “official” link, and I’m […]

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