Lots of Americans say they care about the environment and issues such as global warming, but make few changes to their own lifestyle, to be part of the solution. They may condemn others for not bringing reusable cloth bags to the grocery store, then load their bags with lots of processed foods in plastic packaging, which they load into their gas-guzzling SUV. Reducing your carbon footprint and your impact on the environment, is not just about the way you vote or if you recycle your aluminum cans. It is a way of life that is made up of a long series of choices. There is much political discourse about income inequality in the US, but 95% of Americans are considered “middle class” or higher, compared to the rest of the world. 56% of individuals that are considered “high income,” or the top 20% of earners, reside in the US. Most Americans have not seen a 3rd world country and really have no idea what “true” poverty looks like. It is important to be thankful for what we have and to be mindful of our personal consumption. For if you buy an item, you are responsible for the use of the raw materials, the energy used in its manufacture and the transportation from factory all the way to your home. The more “things” you own, the more impact you have on the environment. Learning how to be happier with less makes you a positive force in the world. One way you can start this transformation is with your wardrobe.
Many people in the US have more clothing than they ever wear and complain that they need bigger closets and more storage space, yet don’t wear half of what they own. Try this exercise in your closets to see if you really use what you own. Sort your closets by season, so all of the clothing of the current season are together. Turn all your hangers to face one direction. For the next month, when you wear, wash and return items to the closet, turn the hangers the opposite direction, to designate the items as have been worn. At the end of the month you may be quite surprised how many items you never wear. Much of your closet many not even fit you any more. Ask yourself, why do you still own these items?
If you recycle the clothing, by giving items to charity or reselling them, then those items are removed from your environmental footprint. This is because the next person will not be responsible for a newly made item. If you are on a tight budget, then sell the items online or in consignment shops. If you are not happy with your current wardrobe, create a whole new look for yourself and use that money from your old clothing to buy new items that suit you better. To save money on your new clothing purchases, try using Groupon Coupon discounts at stores that have a great variety of trendy clothing, such as Tilly’s. Try making a deal with yourself to replace 3 items of clothing, that you recycle by selling or donating them, with 1 item that you really love. Your closets will probably become half as full and you will be twice as happy with what you own.
This do-over of a small aspect of life, you clothing, can be the start of an overall lifestyle change. Try extending this exercise to other areas of your life, to see how many possessions you may recycle, and give the items a second life in society. It will be so easy that it will surprise you. Being happier with less will change you. You reduce your environmental footprint and will walk a little lighter on this earth.