When I sat down to write this article about being wasteful, I was thinking more along the lines of items we use around the house. For example, are you the type of person who rolls the toothpaste tube down to the bottom? Or are you someone who throws it away when it becomes unmanageable? Do you squeeze every ounce out of the ketchup bottle and balance the old one on the new one to get every last drop out? Or do you open a new bottle rather than shake that little bit of ketchup from the bottom?
Being wasteful, however, goes beyond household or tangibles items. Being wasteful can also include how you spend your time, energy, space, and anything else you lump into this category. Though we often think about being wasteful in terms of money, it doesn’t always have to be that way.
I am guilty as a parent of telling my children at least 100 times a year to turn off the lights upstairs when you’re not in your room. I know I sound like my father when I repeat his words. They made me cringe as a child, and I hate saying them but often say, “Do you think we own stock in the electric company?” I’ve also asked how you can waste such a beautiful summer day in your room when we have a pool in the backyard.
The question becomes, how do you know when you’re starting to become wasteful, and what do you do to correct it?
Here are some of the most consistent ways in which we are wasteful
I go to the supermarket every week and inevitably someone in my house has high hopes of making a salad every day. I buy two different types of lettuce, cucumbers, and all other salad accessories. Four days later I’m throwing out rotten lettuce and liquefied cucumbers. I read an article recently that said that Americans waste 150,000 tons of food each day – equal to a pound per person. As a society, we are a gluttonous bunch. If you don’t believe me, seat yourself near a buffet and watch for an hour.
Only purchase what you need at the supermarket for that week. Anything longer than that and your food will spoil causing waste. Try to stay on the outside of the store as that is where you will find most of your real food (fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, etc.). It’s those inside aisles that cause trouble. That’s where you find all the tasty food that’s bad for you. Another good tip is not to go food shopping when you’re hungry as you will buy way more than you need.
Children are a drain on power. I’m not as concerned as I once used to be because I had solar energy installed about three years ago, but I am still concerned out of principle. If you’re considering saving electricity, here are a few tips:
- Turn the lights off when you’re not in the room – Helloooooo
- Switch to LED bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs. These bulbs, though more costly, last longer and save up to 80% less energy than their inefficient predecessors.
- Some appliances use electricity even when they’re off. Consider using a power strip that you can turn on and off when needed.
- Run appliances such as the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full not half empty. Washing your favorite pair of leggings and a shirt or two is not using resources wisely! (This one is for my children)
Most of us living in the United States have the benefit of turning on a faucet in their home to have access to water. We’re not walking 2 miles to the well and back, and we seem to take this for granted. Many places in the world struggle for water and just because we have it doesn’t mean we should waste it. How long does your shower have to be (once again my children) and how much water does your lawn need to stay green? Be mindful of these things when considering being wasteful with water.
Time (trolling internet)
As I mentioned earlier, being wasteful doesn’t always have to do with tangible items. Are you wasteful with your time? Do you often get caught in a wormhole watching YouTube videos of people falling? (This one is for my wife who loves these types of videos as do I) Before you know it two hours have gone by and you’ve gotten nothing done. Be mindful of the time you spend doing wasteful things. Anything that isn’t moving you forward can be deemed wasteful. That’s not to say you don’t need some downtime to unwind but don’t waste an entire day being unproductive in any way.
When I first started driving way back when the price of gas was $.81 a gallon. It’s hard to imagine gas prices being that low considering where I live it’s around $2.70 per gallon (still low compared to other places but high enough for me). Again with gas being as expensive as it is, we drive all over the place, starting and stopping our cars regularly. Better planning is a great way to save gas as is walking when possible, carpooling, or biking.
Don’t waste money buying things you want until you buy the things you need. It’s the classic need vs. wants scenario. Also, focus on buying things you are going to use instead of impulse buying for the sake of buying. Before you make a purchase ask yourself if you’re really going to use this item anytime soon or are you just buying it to own it. I’ve been down this road a bunch of times with different hobbies that I started and never got around to doing.
Avoid being wasteful at all costs. Remember it isn’t always about wasting money, it’s also important to remember you might be wasting time and energy.
Do you find yourself or your family being wasteful in life? Let us know in the comments below. We won’t tell anyone…